Fear is a Liar
We’re reeling, and understandably so.
Another tragedy has hit too close to home and we find ourselves in a state of shock, anxiety, anger, and fear. It’s natural to be afraid. It’s natural to hold tight to the things that make you feel secure – the things that make you feel safe. After all, no one wants their loved ones to be in danger, and no one wants the security of their life to be at risk.
Nonetheless, we live in a climate that promotes and fosters anger and fear. In the search for headlines and views and clicks, we’ve positioned our news outlets and social media feeds to shout at us. The shouting has infiltrated us like poison, and has spread to every facet of our lives. We breathe and drink and soak up every bit of fear and anxiety we can – and worst of all, we encourage others to consume that death as well. And then we wonder why the world is so broken.
Please know that it isn’t my intention to focus on a government or a man-made system that is designed to fail us, but rather an internal struggle that we all face. There is plenty to be frustrated with on both sides of the political aisle, and this isn’t the moment to express those things.
What I want to communicate is the opportunity – and the mandate – we have as people of faith to be a light in a world that is poisoned by darkness.
I went to a conference last year in Chicago called Storyline, and it was absolutely life-changing and brilliant. It was my first exposure to the greatness of both Bob Goff and Glennon Melton. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear from Christians who radiate joy, peace, and genuine hope. I’m inspired by those that appear to live above the constant cycles of “shock-anger-bitterness-acceptance”. In my heart, I know they are affected by it, and I know no one is immune to the brokenness we all feel when hate takes centerstage in the form of terrorism. Yet, I’m inspired when those people find ways to respond with seemingly unnatural love and compassion.
Unfortunately, that’s not the typical state of my social media feeds. And short of un-friending people and thereby muting the dissonance I feel, I’m at a loss for how to make it stop. We’ve fallen into the trap of anger and have allowed the fear and terror to flourish. Instead of speaking hope and inclusion to those that find themselves suddenly disenfranchised and homeless, we close our arms and speak fear and darkness back into them. We choose to succumb to the fear and terror, and it further poisons our identity as Christ followers.
We have allowed terrorism to take a stranglehold of our perspectives. When we look at the hurting in others and we say, “no, you can’t come into my home” – we’ve allowed the poison of fear to enter our hearts. We are not called to walk past the hurting on the side of the road. We are not called to put our trust in systems and borders and the security of our homes. We have been called to weep and mourn with those who have been shaken by darkness. We have been called to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, put them in hotels and hand them our debit cards.
Fear tells you to hang on to what you have, because someday you might lose it. Fear tells you to shut others out, because someday they might hurt you. Fear tells you to become bitter at the poor, because they might steal from you. Fear tells you to blame others, because the truth is too hard to take. The truth is fear is a liar that we like to believe.
Love, on the other hand, is a risk. Love gives up a part of itself in the hope that it will be reciprocated, and yet expects nothing. Love is a handout, a shoulder, a meal, a solemn prayer. Love is a home to the homeless. Love is a nation to the nation-less. Love is not contained by a border and does not require an ideology or skin color or creed to flourish.
Love is giving up the shouting for whispers and silence.
What makes us different is our ability to love those that seek to harm us. What makes us different is our resilience to pray for our enemies and the healing of those broken by the horrors of their failed society. What makes us different is our light.
I’ll leave you with two quotes…one from MLK Jr, and one from scripture. I’ve seen both of them posted around and I find encouragement in the hearts of those who dwell on these words.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Guard your hearts, friends. Be encouraged. Dwell on light and fight against the darkness that seeks to destroy your joy.
In love – Harlan