There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. [1 John 4:18]
The other day, I had a debate with a friend over the refugee crisis in Syria. He, rightly I might add, pointed out that ISIS has infiltrated the flood of refugees entering Europe and are using it as a way to move into areas they had previously had difficulty gaining access to. This clandestine operation by ISIS has been likened to an invasion and many believe it could set the stage for more terrorist activity on western soil.
I don’t disagree, facts are facts and I can’t deny them. I do worry however that this type of sentiment among western Christians and our governments is causing more harm to an already damaged and oppressed people and that by giving in to fear over what ISIS might or might not do plays into their hand.
After reading a few news articles my friend sent me which talked about ISIS flags appearing among refugees in Germany and so on I responded with four simple words.
To put it bluntly; Fear is a sin. I’m not talking about fear of heights or concern about the economy. I’m talking about the kind of fear that prevents people from reaching out and making themselves vulnerable in the name of service. That kind of fear flies in the face of everything Jesus taught and it is quite simply sin.
There is no fear in love, as the apostle John said, because as Christ-followers everything the world tells us to be fearful of is of no consequence to us. Many people throughout my life have questioned my unflinching devotion to pacifism and service. They have made derogatory comments about how I would change my tune if I, or someone I loved, faced harm or even death as a result. But those questions miss the point entirely they are a kind of straw-man, easily burnt by the realization of one simple fact.
We Christ-followers are already dead!
Or more to the point, we should have at least tried to kill our selfish spirit.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Galatians 2:20]
A few years ago Christ-followers and spiritual seekers alike used to wear bracelets and other jewellery featuring the letters WWJD. The letters stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” It was a nice sentiment but it missed the mark in one critical element. Rather than ask what would Jesus do, the real question should be; “What does Jesus want ME to do?”
Part of the answer is to drop your fears, crucify your old self and live by faith alone.
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Corinthians 5:14-21 emphasis mine]
At the end of the day, as a Christ-follower, I fear nothing. In so doing I am able to be an ambassador of Christ to a broken and bloodied world. When I see refugees rioting in the streets and waving the flag of my enemy my heart breaks for them. I am not afraid; I am compelled by Christ’s love to reach out and serve them in any way possible.
Perhaps I will inadvertently help someone who is intent on killing me and the values I stand for, as my friend so aptly pointed out. But my selfish will is already dead and my only response is to let my physical body die well. Maybe in my physical death I can remain a witness to the love and compassion of my Lord. If that day ever comes my prayer is simply this; that I will remain faithful to the end and in my dying breath, drop a pebble of doubt into the shoes of my murderers. Maybe one day, like Paul, they will see the light and repent of their sins.
That’s what Jesus did, that’s what I am sure he would do again and that is what he would have me do as his ambassador today. WWJD?
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]
For more information on how to help the refugees, even the ones that might want to kill you, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org