- This morning, my mum shared the following story. Last year my old friend, Beverly, lost her husband, Danny, to cancer. One of Danny's grandchildren is close to her cousin, Haley (my brother Geoff's grand-daughter). Danny's grandchild said "I can't play with my pop-pop any more, he's in heaven now." To which Haley replied, "It's OK, you can share mine."
Today's scripture reading: Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him”. Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. John 18:25-27
When Jesus was arrested his friends scattered. Even Peter - big, brave, brash, bodacious Peter - pretended that he did not know Jesus. Fear is an interesting phenomenon. It can make us act in ways we did not plan to; it can challenge values and convictions we thought we held dear; it can - literally - immobilize.
Later the Gospel-writer John went on to pen the following words about fear, taking what he learned directly from Jesus and defining love as its opposite. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:17-19
Typically, given a puzzle or a fill-in-the-blank quiz, we would put down "hate" as the opposite of love. But the New Testament teaches that the answer is "fear". Or, to put it another way, LOVE IS THE PERFECT ANTIDOTE TO FEAR. The more I live as someone who knows with confidence that God loves me, then the less power uncertainty, confusion, danger, disappointment and fears have to make any kind of impact.
John is really picking up from Christ's prayer for his followers at the Last Supper. "As he is, so are we in this world." It's the reminder that living love out loud is part of the mandate for discipleship. Fear is incompatible with living the Christ-life.
My mum shared the following story with me today. Last year an old friend, Beverly, lost her husband, Danny, to cancer. One of Danny's grandchildren is close to her cousin, Haley (my brother Geoff's grand-daughter). Danny's grandchild said "I can't play with my pop-pop any more, he's in heaven now." To which Haley replied, "It's OK, you can share mine." (That's Haley, visiting with Rebekah)
These children, in their unguarded conversations, deal with the reality they are faced with by talking, confidently, about huge ideas such as "life that transcends death", "faith", and "sharing without reservation". There is no fear - because their sense of belief is ironclad and their experience of love is rooted in both personal experience and in their pure understanding of God.
Challenge question: OK, so here's the question. Do adults become increasingly cynical and consequently fearful because we are older and wiser and more experienced in "reality"? Or, do adults forget how to love without reservation because we have been taught a contrary set of values over the years?
Maybe, rather than children being brain-washed by belief-systems imposed on them by adults, what has really occurred over the years is that we have been/are being brain-washed by a culture that promotes fear over love, cynicism over belief, and materialism over Gospel.
As always, just thinking out loud. Won't you join me?