20 August 2008

Where there is faith, there is no fear

God is preparing me for something. What it is, I don’t know but it’s dang uncomfortable. I like to be in charge of me (and everything else, too, although, I am an INFJ). I know, however, that I have no control over what whatever is coming.

Because of that, during the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. This was prompted in part by what was going on with the Lambeth Conference, of course and also because of some health problems.

Fear is the underlying force “guiding” behind so much of our lives and all that goes on in the world.

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of change
  • Fear that what we know is completely gone
  • Fear that if one thing changes, everything else will crumble

Fear is the best motivator – rather, the best thing to rally the troops.

It is also the motivator behind much of what we do, but we don’t realize it. We don’t drive 100 mph down the US 101 because we fear jail. We don’t sleep in that extra hour in the morning because we fear the retribution of our employer. Fear is all around is – it is the second guiding force in the world. (Power is number one.)

But fear and faith cannot abide in the same place. Either fear will kill faith, or faith will overwhelm fear. Michael Phelps, one of the greatest athlete in history and who I am proud is a fellow American, remarked that he had "faith" that he could "do it if he just didn't let fear kill that faith."

My Baptist relatives have a peculiar practice for biblical inspiration (the LDS do this, too). Open the bible to a random page, close your eyes, run your finger down the page and stop it any place on that page. The verse your finger points out is supposed to be a direct message from God to you. You have to be careful, though because it might be that bit about Samson taking the jawbone of an ass and killing a ton of Philistines or Judas hanging himself.

I decided to chance it, and that’s what I did yesterday in my holy hour after an appointment with my surgeon. (I keep writing about holy hours! It is not intentional believe me.) The act was a bane and a blessing because my finger stopped on 1 Cor. 13.4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

There was no need to read it. Most of us have heard those verses so many times that we can quote it from memory.

So, I tried again. This time was no different. 1 John 4.18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

There is was – the 2x4 up side he head. After reading the John verse, I realized Paul was not talking about “love.” He and John were writing about God’s love for us.

God does not boast in what he did for us – God just loves us. God does not keep a record of our screw ups – God just loves us. God doesn’t require anything from us at all – God just loves us. He doesn’t punish us – God just loves us as we are.

I thought of the connection these two verses have to John 15.15

If you love me, keep my commandments.

And what are Jesus’ commandments?

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Mt. 22:36-38)

Love God, and love your neighbour as you love yourself. That is all God requires from us in return for that unconditional and all embracing love.

Where there is love, there is faith; and where there is faith, there is no fear; apprehension yes, but fear, no. He has gone before us to prepare for our arrival.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!"
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Marie Louise Haskins 1876 - 1957

I am about to step into the new era. The church is stepping into a new era. Whatever the change for TEC, the AC and for me, we need not fear. We must simply place our hand in God's hand, and know that all will be well.

We have an update from Fran. It is here.
Scot has posted a report on the service. You will find it here.