Monday, January 19, 2015

Love, Not Fear

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photo obtained from
I had a post in the works for this morning and God placed something else on my heart.  Actually a combination of things, all relating to events of the last few days. We'll get to those soon enough.  But, as I realized that what I planned on posting here was not what God intended, this time, I had the background information and a bunch of disconnected thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head. Opening my Bible program, I opened to a passage I'd tweeted Saturday, that's sort of the linchpin holding some of those thoughts together.  We'll hit that one at the appropriate time.  But, first....

Our illustration, today, is a map of Africa drawn by Hermann Moll, sometime between his birth in 1654 and his death in 1732.  If we compare it to a modern map, some city and country names may be new or changed and borders may vary, but that doesn't hide the fact that western  society hasn't done much to share the benefits of our culture with much of the continent.  There are still those who survive or get rich by killing or taking from others.

What brought this post into existence was a call for prayer.  It seems the Charlie Hebdo incident had farther reaching effects then just in France and Belgium.  There are groups of Muslims in Africa killing Christians and burning churches.  One of the native pastors in our ministry in Niger is in danger, along with his family.  A young man I know from our Bible college is a missionary in Kenya. He and several others were attacked, his face was cut with a machete, he lost the sight in his left eye.

I'm on several missions mailing lists, some of which reported similar things going on in Africa, India, and other places.  And I have to admit to not taking the reports as seriously as I should have because some spent as much or more time asking for donations as reporting what they were doing for the sake of the Gospel.  Lord, I repent!  But the reality strikes home when it's people you know, who are only seeking prayer, not money.

When the realization strikes that this world is not as sane or safe as our little bubble of existence would have us believe, many are struck with fear.  If we don't fully know God, that almost makes sense.  We're looking at situations we're not a part of and, for that reason, God hasn't yet given us the grace to experience them.  So, when we hear of frightening circumstances, fear creeps in because the information isn't being filtered through God's grace.  But 2 Timothy 1:7 says "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.".  It's God, not us, dealing with the situation, giving out the grace when we need it, protecting our mind, emotions and spirit -- if we let Him.  And, as I quickly found out, wiping out any areas of familiarity.

I mentioned a linchpin verse:

1 John 4:21 (KJV)  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

That's very clear.  It doesn't matter if the love of God creates our love for each other or the love for each other is evidence of our love for God, the two go together.  In fact, the preceding verse is even stronger.

1 John 4:20 (KJV)  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Whether it's a Christian having an attitude about another Christ follower because some doctrines or worship practices are different or those Muslims killing "infidels", the thinking is wrong.  The love of God isn't evidenced by the love of fellow man.  When we look at what Jesus said was the basis of the Commandments, we know love is the key to a relationship with God.  Anything else makes us, at least in some areas of thinking, His enemy.  

No, what I've said here doesn't mean we condone heresy.  But it does mean we lovingly draw people to The Truth, not burn them at the stake.  When we're one with the mind of God, we don't get rid of what we fear, we evangelize it.

1 John 4:12-14 (KJV)  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

That verse in 2 Timothy speaks of power, love, and a sound mind in a way that we can't miss that they're interrelated.  If the love is missing, so are the power and soundness of mind.  We're leaving a vacuum to be filled by the spirit of fear and anything that goes against the mind of God.

In our last post, we referred to Hebrews 11:1.  It reads, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.".  But faith is an if/then proposition, not something arrived at by evidence.  The original Greek says so.  In much of our relationship with God, we aren't saying God will act or respond in a certain way because that's how He always does.  God isn't limited by our understanding or His past actions.  The two things we've had proof of are that what He will do will be best for us, no matter what it is, and that He will do it out of love for us. We trust Him for those. Where faith comes in is through the circumstances we experience.  They don't always match how we think things should happen.

I put in that prayer request in several online communities, describing the circumstances, and closing with "I'm asking for prayer for protection for African Christians, pastors and missionaries. And for continued spiritual fervor to share the Gospel.".  That last statement may be the most important.  If we truly love God, then we're also going to love those who hate us.  They're the ones who most need to be built up in the Word of God till they succumb to the love of God.  And we're the living demonstration of that.

Certainly the result of my friends injury at the hands of those Muslims will have an effect on whether he;s the one to go back and evangelize them.  If he's not, there's no guilt in that.  But there's a real problem if he isn't supportive of their getting the Gospel in some way.  As I said, earlier, it's not just Africa.  So, which anti-Christian people will you be praying for, that they receive salvation?

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