Yesterday a Facebook friend who’s always posting something hilarious wrote,
“In history class, you thought, ‘If I was alive then, I would have . . . .’
You're alive now. What you're doing is what you would have done.”
He might have been a preacher instead of a comedian, crystallizing my spiritual angst and showing me the path to freedom in three tiny sentences.
On the one hand, American life is changing almost more rapidly than I change clothes. Definitely more rapidly than I change my bedsheets! We are assailed on every side to normalize prejudice, rename it as security, and hope life might go on as usual.
On the other hand, the call of Christ holds constant: love our neighbors . . . . welcome the stranger . . . . care for the poor . . . . do not be afraid . . . . . . do not be afraid . . . . . . . do not be afraid. And above all else, Do Not Be Afraid. I find no words of Christ more difficult to obey. Fear comes - rises - without my bidding. My brain can instantly rationalize it into some other far less stressful shape and story. Then, as an explanation offered to which others will agree, I find myself feeling even less afraid. But in my heart of hearts I know: this is not courage, only fear driven deeper down.
But what if we knew, as surely as we know that we love our children, that fear is just a part of being human ~ like taste buds and tear ducts? Fear helps us thrive in the world by recognizing danger so we can choose the proper course: flight or fight.
The joys of life in Christ are these: Jesus’ admonition not to be afraid is not His only gift. In the Christ event we have nothing to fear. Death has no hold on us. We’ve no personal rights to defend, since we gave them all away in exchange for Christ. We live by faith, and with faith comes the God-given capacity for courage. And while fear may be a feeling, courage isn’t. Courage is a behavior. Courage is the obedient choice to see the truth however scary it may be to look upon and name it for the evil or the danger that it is, and then to follow Jesus accordingly.
Also this, friends: no person, community or country ever thrived by wishing the danger wasn’t dangerous. That it is not at my own door does not relieve me from Christian duty for a single second. But rather, that Christian duty calls me all the more into step with those who wish to follow Jesus, where and as He goes in this world today.