Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fear Not

There is a lot a of fear out there and I'm not only speaking about the world.

The world is full of people who are scared. Some of them are afraid of terrorist that are making a conquest through parts of the world. Some are afraid of a political party losing power, or another party never gaining it. There are people out there who are afraid of losing their jobs and/or not having the money for doctors and medicine. Some people are scared they've wasted time and money on a degree and they'll never get a job to make a good wage and have a part of the American dream as it once was. Some people are afraid that the last relationship that they were in was the best that the could ever do, and nobody could love them, or their partner as well.
This is the world we live in.  This is, the state of affairs.

What is a church to do with a world like this?
How can a church help in these times?

As believers we're called to be in the world but not of the world.
We're called to be a strong example of love whose trust is firmly in God... but we often aren't
Some ministries are terrified of governments coming in and telling them what they can or can't say, so they don't want to get incorporated or become a 501c3 or even have a telephone
Is it wrong? That isn't my call, but I think its strange.
People become afraid of what a person might say, and they tailor messages of condemnation around someone that may just have a differing opinion. Fear.
Churches are supposed to be a hospital for the soul, not contained in any building but a vast reaching body that tends to the wounds and concerned. It laughs with you, It cries with you. It loves you and represents Christ. I was part of one ministry for a great while and for years I fought for lunch with a leader so that I could get to know the man.  I came away knowing more about him by all the things that he refused to open up about and wouldn't say and the questions that he never cared to ask or get answers too than any words that he ever threw out behind a pulpit. I wondered, Is he afraid to let me in?

I read an outstanding post yesterday titled "How to love a psychopath" and in it they spoke about the need for a deep connection in order to facilitate healing and to convey love. I've been a part of several ministries that not only fall short on the connection, but it would seem that they are against it.
Love is a lot of hard work, and it is the thing that is contrary to the atmosphere of fear. In some ministries, every new person is a potential threat and the only people that are really welcomed with open arms and lovingly embraced are those who already believe what the house believes.  A friend touched on this point quite well when he said

"I'm not saying this to bash the church or synagogue. I don't usually go to religious services anymore because I just can't handle it. The way things are done is so opposite to the way I am and to what actually works when it comes to making disciples and personal transformation, I often walk away feeling frustrated and drained. I'll give you a couple examples.
I'm very talkative, relational, and interactive, but in most religious services you can't talk - except for scripted prayers and songs - and there's little relational interaction except for what you squeeze in after the official service.
I'm very active physically - read that hyper haha - but in most religious services I have to mostly sit still and passively go along with whatever is happening.
I'm obsessed with making new disciples and changing the world, so I would rather be out there meeting nonreligious people (the 1) and building friendships with them than spending half the day sitting around with other people who already believe just like me (the 99) acting as if the pinnacle of discipleship was singing songs and 'getting fed'. Yes, some congregations have a strong focus on making disciples, but for many of the ones I've been to, it's not even on the radar. "

I've seen a disproportionate balance in relationships. I heard my own brother teach that the kingdom of God is built on relationships. Some places had no idea that my parents divorced, that I had moved in to help my mom, or that I was moving across the country even though I'd been talking about it for a while. A select few told me that they would miss me and that god would bless me where ever I was but there were others who said that I was making the gravest mistake of my life because of a strong sense of fear and impending doom was upon us all. Some of these same doomsday people thought a meteor was going to hit us last year, the economy was going collapse the year before that, another crisis and before that another crisis.  Don't get me wrong I love these people, and I'd most likely take a bullet for any of them.... but the constant paranoia fostered in an atmosphere of a lacking deep connection while pushing a specific thrust on getting their message out....

It felt as though the doctrine was truth, but I was among a cult. When I spoke out about concerns, the wagons would circle and their would be meetings about "slandering the ministry", because there was not that deep connection, it was easy for some of them to assume the worst and rally groups for secret meetings on how to "deal with the Jay situation" instead of reaching out in a one on one phone call.
On the other hand I once lived with a Pastor. He took me in until I could find my way in a new town. He poured into my life not by forcing scriptures, but by being a light. He listened. He laughed with me and he treated me like a brother or a son. He walked in a way that was comfortable with God, not looking over his shoulder but trusting in Him.

How can we appropriately minister to people with the hard questions if we as a people are afraid of them and their questions. Legitimate doubt in a quest for truth produces a more resolute faith at the other end. When that doubt is met with chastisement, fear and separation then it only reaffirms in the negative. I've been in churches that do not appreciate legitimate questions, because the pastor was afraid of those questions leading to a reevaluation of his doctrine, which contained flaws. It still hurts sometimes knowing that I was rejected because of questions.

We have to overcome our fear or the world. Fear is generally not an attribute of those who have died in the Messiah.
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love - 1 John 4

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