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Friday, May 11, 2007

Loving Out the Fear

Jon Walker is a "pastor advocate" who used to be on staff as Communications Pastor at Saddleback Church. He writes the daily devotional that Rick Warren uses. Today he's talking about how we're supposed to relate to one another. I find it profound for a number of reasons.

1 Peter 3:8 says that, "All of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds." (NLT) Walker says that God enables us to love the fear out of one another. He says that we drive fear from our families and friends by loving one another so supportively that every one feels safe inside the group. Jon cites 1 John 4:18, which says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV) I understand this to mean that since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

Walker alleges that this safety allows us to bring our humanity into the open, including all our pain and joy, our ups and downs, our victories and defeats. He says it means you give to others the same uncommon safety Christ gives you – to be real, to be sad, to be messed up and confused, yet to be loved. Here are some other things Mr. Walker has to say about the subject.


God challenges us to create a Christ-community where we love like our lives depend upon it (1 Peter 1:22) and where we can each “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) We’re to weep as one and celebrate as one, caring for each other equally (1 Corinthians 12:25-26) as we comfort and confront, warm and warn, cherish and challenge within an atmosphere of supportive safety.

Loving the fear out of each other requires that we develop:

Tender hearts – We give support to each other because God gives us support, and we’re to encourage others with the encouragement we receive from him. (2 Corinthians 1:4) In the New Testament, the word ‘support’ can literally mean “to increase one another’s potential.” (Romans 4:19 NJB) We strengthen one another by extending love, instead of fostering fear, and we do that by offering relationships that are safe and sympathetic.

Humble minds –True humility focuses on the worth of others. We understand our value in Christ, and we understand that God shapes each of us for a unique purpose.

Godly eyes – Loving the fear out of our family and friends – in fact, loving the fear out of the world - means we see others for what they can be, not for what they appear to be now. Jesus called Peter a rock when the fisherman was still acting on impulse (Matt. 16:18), and God called Gideon a mighty man of courage when he was hiding from the enemy among piles of grain. (Judges 6:11-12) God calls us to encourage and affirm each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11), seeing those around us in terms of their purpose and mission in life.


This of course all makes perfect sense to me. After all, it is Biblical. But I have to confess that it probably runs contrary to my own experience in life. I've had a pretty difficult week spiritually and emotionally. I've journaled and poured my heart out to God, sharing with him my spiritual and emotional despair. I've tried reaching out to some people that I know love me. I have tried to be humble and contrite and fully own my part in this. Yet the love I get has not seemed to have the effect that Jon Walker says it will.

Is the effect different when one is a prophet? I have one friend, whom I'm sure loves me, who does not necessarily speak any specific truth into me. But he will infer that the common denominator is me, as if I'm not really owning my part of my troubles. I wish those who love me would be more bold about speaking truth. If you see a log in my eye ... will you tell me? Isn't that how love removes the fear?

I want to agree with Jon Walker and give a hearty "Amen, brother!" to what he's said. But like I said, my own life experience doesn't yet seem to line up with what Scripture tells me.

"Lord, give me a more tender heart and a more humble mind ... and anything else You think I need here. I want to have a teachable spirit, and honor You in my everyday life. But it seems despite my best efforts, I remain considerably short of that goal. Rescue me from me, Lord."

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