Fear and anxiety reflect a nature of doubting. When Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27) after His disciples all panic, He replies “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” A while later when He walks on the water and they panic thinking He’s a ghost, He tells them not to be afraid. And when Peter steps out of the boat to walk with Him, it’s when Peter’s focus turns away from Jesus that he begins to sink. Jesus’ response: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
It’s so easy to fall into a mindset of fear and persecution. But granting others rights does not lessen our own. For centuries, Christians have had cultural advantages and freedoms in this country over other religions despite the words of the First Amendment. That is not how it should be. Freedom for all is freedom for one, and we need that to ensure we don’t move down the path of freedom for none.
I was wrong. Those three words seem so hard to say at first, but the more you say them the more freeing it becomes. Looking back, I recognize that I was trapped in a very pessimistic view of the world and my faith, always ready to throw stones. I’m glad I was wrong. Because it means we have hope for the future.
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” –Luke 9:25 This question (also found in Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36) has been constantly in the back of my mind over the past several years. I believe it is one of the most powerful questions …
Dehumanizing groups of people has always been a part of human history, and if anything, it is stronger than ever today. When the most powerful person on earth has spoken repeatedly of groups of people as “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists,” due only to their nationality, saying “these aren’t people. These are animals” about anyone (even gang members), and professing entire groups of people as “the enemy of the people” simply because they report things he doesn’t like (even if provably true), we need to reevaluate.
Whether you adhere to a Christian faith and care about the question of eternal life or just want to have a positive life here on earth, heed the words of Jesus in this story. He asks what is written in the law: love God and love your neighbor. He then makes explicitly clear that everyone is your neighbor, regardless of any differences you may have. Now that it’s clear who is your neighbor, he gives us one final command: go and do it.
There are a lot of things in this world that make it hard not to speak out in anger and hate. But as we’ve seen, that only makes everything worse. This does not mean I won’t call things out. But it does mean that I will carefully choose my words in an effort to ensure they come from a place of love and encouragement to be and do better.