The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), but there seems to be plenty of which to be afraid these days.
Taking appropriate steps to be safe is common sense.
Letting fear rule our behavior to the point of seeing all strangers as potential sources of peril, or barricading ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually from the world makes no sense for people of faith.
So much more is expected of Christians. It is time to trust the perfect, suffering, reconciling love of God.
It is a love that says “no” to the forces that diminish life and says “yes” to love, even at great cost.
It is a love that will change us until we cannot help but be burdened by the pain of others and find ourselves asking God to use us to make a difference with all that we are, say and do.
Few of us will be called on to make ultimate sacrifices, but some members of our family – the human family – are called to make those sacrifices in love every day.
For most of us living in the first world, we will be called on to make the difference for love in smaller, quieter ways.
Still, small things matter. It’s the tiny drip, drip, drip of water that wears away stone, and the slow, insistent growth of tender blades of grass that, over time, turns concrete into rubble.
You and I can make a difference every day, even in ways as small and humble as these:
- You can awaken to thank God for the day and ask God to cultivate in you a spirit of gratitude and grace through which to meet the day.
- You can ask the Spirit to move through you during the day to help you see other human beings through the eyes of Jesus.
- You can take the initiative to greet and to speak thoughtfully to strangers, especially service workers who help you throughout the day.
- You can offer the gospel in thoughtful words and deeds and pray God will let you see the opportunities to do this throughout your day. You can include in words and deeds how you spend your money and how you give your time.
- You can be the one to follow the letter of James’ teachings on the power of the tongue and be sure what you say reflects the heart of Jesus growing in you. You can refuse to be held captive to those who use the power of the tongue to make you afraid too.
- You can take to lunch a friend, colleague or family member who you know has been neglected, bruised or wounded by a church. God can use you to restore a relationship between the person and faith that reflects God’s heart and makes a meaningful difference.
- You can ask God to identify those people who you seem to have the hardest time accepting as God’s children and ask the Lord to show you what you have in common.
- You can forgive those who you find yourself in conflict with while also asking God to help you set appropriate boundaries. Some people bother you. Some people would abuse you or others if you let them. To those people, it is within God’s will for you to say “no.”
- You can commit yourself to be a 24/7 disciple of the ways of Jesus, that you become faithful, joyful, hope-full “doers of the word and not listeners only.”
- You can close the day thanking God for being God, for bringing you through and giving you faith and courage to be made a little more like Jesus, who died to set human beings free every day.
Pastor of Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia.