Thoughts on Fear and Love

This Sunday the children, youth, and adults from our VBS weekend will be sharing with us the good news. We will hear again the story of Jesus calming the stormy waters, as the disciples cry out in fear from the rocking boat. Paul Tillich, the great German theologian of the 20th century, once said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but fear. This has always struck me as true to some degree. And yet, I can’t help but notice how much fear and faith have in common. Oftentimes, they are a response to the unknown, the different, the unexpected, and yes, even that which threatens us. So often, it is just these things that inspire fear in us and they are often the things that call us to summon faith in a new way. I don’t want to draw hard lines here, but it does feel that responding in fear or responding in faith are two different responses to the same situation. And I think that is central to the story we will hear on Sunday. Perhaps the main thing is not whether we are afraid in this life, but rather, how are we responding to the world around us? Are we responding in fear to that which is different, unknown, challenging, or threatening? Or, are we responding in faith, with trust, compassion, engagement, courage, and love? Life is not so easy as for us to always respond in faith—fear is real for all of us. This is not a word of condemnation, but instead, a word of encouragement. Indeed, it is the very words we hear from Jesus so much after the horrific and terrifying event of the crucifixion and the unbelievable event of the resurrection: Do not be afraid! Peace be with you! Together, we can hold fast to the promises of God—that God is with us. And perhaps, in this, we can summon the faith within us to engage our fear with trust and courage. For as we hear in 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. In Christ, you and I, we all have this perfect love. Do not let the fears of this world, this life, or our hearts steal from us this perfect love that casts out fear and summons faith. It is ours for the living.

See you Sunday,

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