Friday, August 10, 2012

Love without fear

(Jesus said, ) But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, "Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant."

"You wicked servant!" the king roared. "Your own words condemn you." Luke 19:20–22

What’s wrong with bringing back an original investment? It’s better than risking all and losing, isn’t it? Re-reading the verses above, I wonder if unearned gains are the reason the king reacts. Perhaps it’s not as much about keeping what we have, as hoarding out of fear. Perhaps it’s not doing our best because of our trepidation of failure … or success.

I’ve been thinking about what life would be like if we loved without fear or faltering. Most of us, in loving and living, have a certain amount of anxiety or hesitation about risking all in the act of giving ourselves to others.

But what if we threw ourselves into life with reckless love, regardless of the perils? What if we were willing to put everything on the line – our reputations, our dignity, our sense of entitlement to reciprocal love – to embrace others and our opportunities with all our personalities and character?

From some, that would look extravagant and extroverted, a splash of kindness in every direction. It’s scary for those who are used to being pushed away from their attempts to do things for others to keep an outgoing flow of love. Especially when we’re told over and over again, “No thanks! Keep away!” “I don’t want your attention!” or “I’ve got life under control, back off!” More devastating still, hearing: “Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough to contribute to me/ this project/ this ministry (etc.)”

Others would quietly serve, wholeheartedly seeing to the good of those around us. Sometimes a gentle spirit is crushed by not being noticed, by having attention drawn to good deeds, or hearing a scathing remark about the inadequacy of such actions. Having someone take the credit while belittling us for loving acts or sacrificial commitments can wither the heart, too.

It might also be shocking to receive such unfeigned grace and good deeds. After all, aren’t we sometimes suspicious of those who lavish good works around them? Don’t we fear that someone who does us a favor may want something from us? Something we might not be willing to return to them?

With all the talk of “love banks” where good actions or “deposits” accumulate to balance “withdrawals” of human need or unkind actions, it’s hard not to start measuring what we are owed and what we owe others. Sometimes, starting from a core distrust, such measurements begin to build a relationship. In truth, we’re so far in debt as far as God is concerned, that the accounting of rights and wrongs smacks of humanism, not godliness.

Scripture says we owe an un-repayable debt of love – that we have become debtors to Christ. In fact, we are His slaves, entirely purchased at Calvary through a bloody ransom. Therefore, if our Master asks us to love other, we don’t have permission or power to refuse – if we want to stay in right relationship with Him. (“By this everyone will know you are my disciples, that you have love one for another,” Jesus said bluntly.)

We probably try to like and love most people. However, I’m thinking beyond the human ability to do no harm and to be nice to those who are our friends and family.

LOVE WITHOUT FEAR. What would a day of that look like to those around me? To those around you? How would such courage feel?

Read more:
*Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Lamentations 3:22-25 NIV 

*I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:18

*Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?” Mark 2:19 (NIV)

Moravian Prayer: Creator and Sustainer, you have provided such bounty for us, your children. When we feel a lack of earthly things, help us to trust in you to provide for our needs, on earth and in heaven. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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