Have you noticed that when our brains start playing the “what if?” game, they almost always focus on the worst possible outcome?
“What if I start a new business and it takes off and I am able to create new jobs for some people and provide a product that improves the lives of others.”
“What if I reach out to make a friend and we hit it off and they become one of the most important people in my life.”
Never mind…that probably won’t happen…it’s a great dream, but we know what happens to dreamers, right?
The thing is, this “what if” exercise we do is really about fear.
I’m afraid of what might happen…afraid I might fail, so I will do nothing. Even though there is a reasonable possibility that it could make my life so much better, I will just stay where I am…because it is safe here. And we all know how important it is to be safe, right?
The topic of fear and safety has been a big one the past week. That seems a normal response after what we all watched in Paris last weekend.
And it has led to one of the major humanitarian crises of our time being discussed and dealt with, by many on the basis of our fears.
What if we let them into our country and some of them are terrorists?
What if they come and destroy our way of life?
In response I’ve seen the story of the Good Samaritan shared a lot this week. Jesus telling us to love our neighbour…regardless of whether she is one of us, or an outsider…or a stranger. Or even of a different religion.
One of the arguments I’ve seen shared in response is, basically, “sure, we’re supposed to love our neighbours, but Jesus also told us that we’re supposed to be wise as serpents.”
The point being, Jesus wouldn’t want us to put ourselves in danger.
Which makes me want to ask, “have you actually read the bible?”
There are these people in history called martyrs. And actually, there are martyrs today living in places like Syria who have been raped, enslaved, beheaded because of their faith in Jesus. (I mean they haven’t had to deal with red coffee cups yet but that might be coming too.)
I posted this on Twitter yesterday…
Why does it seem that people pull out the “Jesus told us to be wise” quote when they want to do something opposite of what Jesus said to do?
— Bob Wilson (@bob__wilson) November 17, 2015
Jesus didn’t tell us to love our neighbour with qualifiers. Love him unless he might be dangerous…unless you feel your safety might be put at risk.
I mean, think about these two verses for a minute:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
Wait, we’re not even supposed to be afraid of people who could kill us?
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
Jesus shares a parable where a guy gives some money to his servants and goes away. He comes back and asks what they did with what he gave it. While some of them made more money, one guy buried his money in the ground…to keep it safe. Because he was afraid.
And Jesus says, “Do see how wise this person was? He avoided risk because he was afraid for his safety and wanted to protect what he already had.”
Oh wait, it was the exact opposite.
Jesus doesn’t commend that guy…in fact in the story, he is the biggest loser.
Jesus said the reason he came was to give us life. Life to the full.
Follow me, live life as I live it and you will have an abundant life open up before you.
Why does the bible caution us so often to not fear? I believe it is because fear leads us in the opposite direction. Rather than life to the full, fear leads to a life that gets smaller and smaller as we try to protect our little scraps. Jesus tells us the quickest way to lose the abundant life he has for us is to try and save it.
When we put our efforts and energies into protecting the little piece of pie that we have, and miss out on the feast that God want us to share in.
We can’t trust God and be guided by fear.
We can’t love God, and not love our neighbour.