What are You Afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

I don’t mean that as a mere rhetorical device.  I mean it quite seriously:

What are you afraid of?  What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to you?  To your family?  To your nation?  To your workplace?  To your way of life?

I’m trying to put words to this truth about the things we fear.  It’s the flip side of the idea that perfect love drives away our fear.  It’s the reality that anything short of perfect love will be tinged by our fears.  And our fears are our undoing.

On some level, it’s impossible to fear something that is wholly outside of us.  On some level, fears don’t exist on the level of the abstract.  Whatever we fear, it’s really about how the feared thing will impact us.

I’d go even further.  We delude ourselves into thinking that problems are outside of us.  But they are not.  Not really.  Not ever.

It began with Eve, Adam, a garden and a snake.

And it’s easy to say “The garden was outside of them.  The snake was outside of them.”

But the garden and the snake weren’t the problem.  The reactions of Adam and Eve, these were the problem.

Left unchecked, fear drives us to become the very thing we so feared.  The Old Testament tells the story of Josea and Gomer.   It’s the story of a women who so feared being hemmed in and trapped that she embrarks on a journey that ends when she sells herself into slavery.

And consider Joseph’s brothers.  It was clear that the youngest brother was to have power within the family.  It was power that they didn’t want to share.  And so they set into motion a series of events which culminates in Joseph become one of the most powerful people in the world; it culuminates in the brothers being wholly and utterly under Joseph’s control.   It’s hard to imagine how Joseph could have ended up anywhere near as influential, if his brothers hadn’t feared his power.  They made Joseph that way.

And then: Consider the fear of the Romans that was had by the people at Jesus’ time.

I’m not casting stones, particularly here.  If I had lived at the time, I know I would have had good reasons to fear them as well.

But I can only imagine how it seemed to the people who were crucifying Jesus.  The Romans must have thought, “Yeah, these guys seem all gung-ho for Jesus as he enters into the city.  But that one guy, Judas, he turns Jesus over.  Pontius gives them a chance to set him free, but the crowd goes for the murderer instead.”

They began with this fear of the Romans.  And in selling Jesus out, they increased the power and sway the Romans had.  After the crucifiction of Jesus, the Romans must have rested easier.  Their consciences must have been assuaged.  There must have been a sense of “See?  We’re doing the right thing.  This rabble actually needs us.”

I think I have some more to say on this topic.  But not today.

What do you fear?  If left unchecked, what could this fear do to you?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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