Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Fear Inside

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.

1 John 4.18

Why They’re Afraid

Rather than concentrate on grievously wrong actions and attitudes toward us, we can identify (and identify with) the reasons behind them.  Why do people, particularly fellow Christians, say and do things that wound us? In a nutshell, they’re afraid—afraid of us, afraid of change, but mostly afraid of embracing what they sincerely think God hates. They believe accepting gay believers will end in their punishment as well as ours.

We certainly understand fear of punishment.  Once we discovered we were “different,” how many of us trembled at the thought that we were doomed to Hell?  We know how scary it is to feel threatened by someone not like us.  We know why straight believers want to shut out anyone whose basic drives and nature they can’t fully understand. We do it, too.

The Perfect Choice

In Matthew 5.48, Jesus tells us, “Be perfect, even as your Father is perfect.” Perfection starts with perfect love, and perfect love starts with expelling fear.  When we love our straight brothers and sisters as we love ourselves, we have nothing to fear.  What’s more, as Paul told the Corinthians, “Love never fails.”  It never fails, because it compels us to look through our adversaries’ veneer of hate, prejudice, and self-righteousness to find the fear inside.

In dealing with intolerant believers, we have two options.  We can look at personalities created by fear. Or we can see beings created by God. We can despise the people they’ve become. Or we can love them for who they were meant to be. The perfect choice seems more than obvious.

Ignore the signs they make and find the beings God made.  See their hidden fear, understand them, and love them as yourself.

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