At the beginning of the week and throughout the weeks leading up to the topic of Fear I thought I had a plan. I thought I had a good idea about what to talk about, but then news broke early in the week about two police officer involved shootings of men of color. Then many officers were killed in Dallas during a rally with others injured.
Needless to say, there were some plans that were changed as the stories developed. With each story my heart broke, and I asked over and over again the question “Who am I to have a voice on this?” “Who am I to deliver some insight to my faith community about situations that I have so little experience.”
I am just ordinary, me. Maybe that is the point that through this ordinary time we are able to see that in the ordinary we are able to find a voice and action to make an impact in combatting the things our world would have us fear. It is not hard to find the brokenness, but joy and empowerment is something different.
My hope, at the end of the day, was to encourage us to name God for God and then realize our (each of us) role in pushing out the fear around us with the love that comes with knowing our gracious God.
Here is a little outline of the message:
- What are you afraid of? This is an issue in many ways of losing control. We fear the things that we cannot control. So I tell my girls one of the things that I fear is them getting hurt because there are times where I cannot control their safety.
Fear of God
- When we say we fear God it means that there is a holy reverence. As someone who respects the power of the river and its rapids respects the power it has over us and therefore we have lifejackets. But there is something more. In the Bible people are Really afraid as Francis Chan points out in the video linked below.
- We fear God because we cannot control God. Because God is God and we are not. For many of us that is frightening. However, when we place our fear in God other things begin to come into focus. We see that there is a larger plan at play and the world is not all about us. And so then fearing God liberates us to do some great things.
Where fear would STOP God would empower ACTION
- Fear tries to detour or distract us.
- “Yes, the shootings are awful, but I don’t have time to worry about them because I need to make sure I send these emails.”
- God cuts through he excuses and calls us to act, nudging our hearts to break along with God’s and then be a part of the restorative process.
Where fear would SILENCE God would empower VOICES
- “This isn’t my problem.” Or “what could I a white male add to this conversation?”
- Now that the Bishop Family adoption paperwork is in Hattian hands it is another reminder that our family is going to look very different soon and issues of race will be front and center in our lives in a new way.
- This is a problem for all of us because it is an issue of shalom of r the entire body of creation. There is brokenness that needs to be addressed.
- Each of us have a voice that will reach a particular place and we cannot afford for any voice to go unheard because we must learn from one another.
Where fear would SEGREGATE God would empower UNITY
- Fear loves neat boxes that draws boundaries around us and them. There is no “we” in fear. After all how will we know who to fear if there are not bins of good and bad to put people in?
- Yet we have been made for relationship and we have been reconciled by Christ. We are all in this house together. We are also all diverse and that makes the Kingdom so much better.
See Ephesians 2:12-22 (CEB)
12 At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. 13 But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God. 17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. 18 We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. 19 So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. 20 As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. 22 Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.
- Embracing the fear of God empowers us to love better.
- Each time in scripture when those encountering God are afraid, the words, “fear not” are spoken. As if God’s saying “I got you, so go crazy with your love for me and help heal my broken people.”
- Action steps
- Listen– Hear all sides of the story
- Learn– How does this inform or change your perspective. Ask more questions the one you really want to ask to help you understand with your heart not just with your head.
- Love– find a way to love and be in community. Extend the conversation, be in real relationship, vote/lead in local government, let your heart break and mourn well see the link below
Here are some really good reads that helped me prep:
Powerful response from my bishop—
How we as people of faith react in the face of tragic events—
good book: Fear the other by William WIllimon http://amzn.to/29F3CWS
Great video about fearing God by Francis Chan: