Fear and Love
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
Among the many emotions I’ve heard expressed in the post-election hoopla, fear has been dominant. It isn’t just the uncertainty that accompanies leadership change. I’ve heard my gay and lesbian friends express fear that their rights may be revoked. I’ve heard students express their fear that their classmates and families may be separated. And I’ve heard people of color express their fear that racism has found a new cultural foothold. A high school student I know, who has a darker complexion, was called a “Mexican” by classmates and told to “go back home”.
So, how do we respond to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing fear?
We don’t try to fix them.
We don’t minimize their fear.
We don’t insist that they justify why they’re afraid.
We seek to protect them. We advocate for their safety. We speak out against those who would bully them. We cry out for justice. We comfort them. We love them.
Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler once wrote, “When a small child cries out in the middle of the night because she is afraid of the dark, it is the foolish parent who turns on the light, shows the child that there are no monsters in the closet or under the bed, and then turns out the light and tells the child there’s nothing to be afraid of. It is the wise parent who climbs into bed with that child, wraps her in arms of love and comfort and whispers, ‘It’s okay, sweetheart. I’m right here.’”
While Sittler was writing about the nature of God I also think those are wise words for us in a divided nation in which many are struggling with fear. The antidote to fear is love. So let’s love one another well during these difficult days.
And if you’re feeling afraid remember that God in Jesus has entered into our darkness, crawled into our bed of fear and holds us in strong arms of love whispering, “I’m right here.”
Want some framework for understanding the emotional climate of our nation? I encourage you to set aside some time to list to this webcast featuring Rob Bell and Pete Rollins. Listen here.
Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN