The Fear of Loving Your Neighbor
As we’ve gone through this Meet Your Neighbor series I’ve had many of you reach out and share how this series has challenged you to get out and meet co-workers, actual neighbors, and people different from you. One of the common themes I’ve heard from you all is the nervousness or fear that exists in meeting someone new.
There’s a real uneasiness that wells up in us as we try to form relationships with people that might be “out of the box” for us. Will they accept a dinner invitation or will I feel rejected? Will they mock me for different values I hold? How do I enter their world and still be true to myself? There are all sorts of real questions and situations we must deal with when we finally get beyond ourselves and start meeting people that are different.
Just this past week I got call from a Hopester. He told me when this series started, he and his wife began praying that if the Father wanted them to share their faith with others that the Father would provide the opportunity for them to do so. Well, just that week, out of nowhere, a co-worker, going through a hard time, called him and asked to set up a lunch to talk about Jesus. This Hopester called me nervous because he’d never done anything like this and wondered if he’d be rejected and yet, ultimately, he knew his co-worker really needed to receive Jesus. I prayed with this Hopester on the phone, he went to his lunch, and I later received a text saying his co-worker is willing to regularly meet and go through the book of John to learn about Jesus. Yay! God!
I received an email from another Hopester last week talking about the fear that comes when she thinks about reaching out to her co-workers. The fear is real but this Hopester responded by saying, “Perfect love casts out all fear…I’ve read those words a hundred times…I know God is using this series to teach us how to love others…only by truly understanding how deep and wide and high and strong and absolutely COMPLETE His love for us is, (then we see) there is no room for fear…including all those ‘what if I actually reach out to that neighbor who doesn’t believe like I do’ worries.”
Nobody has said that “Love your neighbor” would be easy. It can be nerve wrecking, challenging and stretching, yet it can also be very rewarding. As we love our neighbors we must remember that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” – 1 John 4:18