Kingdom Principle: Fear causes us to look at our obstacles, love moves us to opportunity.
How often do you find yourself stuck on your but – frozen and not able to go forward without more answers? Imagine yourself in a conversation saying – “That sounds wonderful, but……. I would love to, but…. I really wish I could, but……. It is fear that causes us to get stuck on the “but”. Love on the other hand frees us to remain rather than being stuck. To the outsider it may look the same – to remain or to be stuck. But the motivation and purpose are found in the source. Jesus was not stuck on the cross – He willingly choose to remain there in love – even when we cried out “Father why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1) He did not fear that all was lost, rather he remained in love to proclaim, “It is finished” (Ps. 22:31). There are always other ways to reach out goals, yet we must realize that to reach the goal is not always all that matters. The end does not justify the means… the means does however demonstrate the end.
Phillip’s story in Acts is without beginning or end. All we have is the middle and the motivation of love that carried him to new opportunity. His story begins in Acts 6 as he is chosen to care for food distribution and service of the church because he was full of the Spirit and wisdom. One might question his choice to remain in this role after Stephen’s death (Acts 7) or after the great persecution scatter the church (Acts 8). Being full of the Spirit and wisdom he hears the call of the Lord and does not respond with but, rather in obedience – seizes the opportunity and goes on mission. Then just as quickly he is removed from that place and ends up elsewhere. Here is where fear enters most of us – we say – God I will serve you but….. I want to control the outcome…. But, I am not willing to go there…. But, that is not we do ministry there…. But, I am not good enough for that…. This is not true for Phillip as we find him later in Acts 21 – the Father of four daughters each of whom is a prophet and he is hosting Paul (who murdered his friend Stephen). How does love like this overcome our fear?
The movement of the Kingdom moves based on love not fear. The very best book on this topic is my Henri Nouwen – LifeSigns. In this short mysterious book we are moved to understand the what it means to dwell in the house of God. The result of such dwelling is to move in Intimacy with the Father, Fecundity (fruitfulness)with the Son, and Ecstasy with the Spirit…..
We remain in Jesus – who remains in us – and thus love is made complete in us. To remain, abide or continue in love is not to avoid movement – rather it is to see all as an opportunity to extend love. Fear like a tunicate – shuts off the flow of love from the Father to you, which shuts off the flow of love from you to others – (Review the process of Fellowship – Transformation – Compassion as Invitation of the last three weeks posts) It is not hard to see how fear can motivate us to remain in a place. I’d share my faith, but I may lose my job; I want to go on a mission trip, but I don’t have the money; I want to tell them how I feel, but it will hurt them too much. Fear never leads us to love, Love never abandons us to Fear.
Love will draw you close, Fear will push you for distance. Love will produce in you new life, Fear will focus you on what is old. Love will release you to risk, fear will restrain you to be proven wise.
As John says “If you say, “I love God” yet hate your brother – you are a liar…” these strong words cause great fear in us that we have not measured up and loved those to whom it is difficult. Today I hope you quit looking at your “but” (It may be large, it may be ugly, it may be dead weight) regardless take your eyes off the obstacles to love and place your focus on the source of love. This is not a “how to” love post where your focus is on the other person – here your focus must be on the source of all love.
1. How much time have you take to reflect on God’s pleasure of you? Where is God pleased with you? In what ways does your life bring a smile to God?
2. To whom is God sending you to love? In what ways does this sending cause you to look for the “but”?
3. Where have your built resentment toward another (even God) based on the outcome of the relationship? Are you willing to seek a new perspective on this relationship? If so – It will begin by taking the focus off the other person (and your need to avoid them) and placing it on God’s love for you.