Today’s Pastoral Passage: I John 4
Hemis-fear……yes, it’s my made up word to depict the cloud that seems to grip our planet. We are a fearful race. There is anxiety, mistrust and suspicion around every corner. When and where will the next cataclysmic natural disaster strike or the next terrorist attack? What mechanical or error will bring down the next plane or boat and derail the next train? What unforeseen human error will cause multiple deaths and injuries? Tragedy broods ominous over the populated masses.
Fear is paralyzing. It gnaws at our hearts and plays tricks on our minds. Fear wants to bring this spinning sphere we live on to a screeching halt. How do we combat this great evil of humanity? LOVE!! Love is all you need sang the Beatles. The apostle John wrote that there is no fear in love, but perfect love, unconditional love, love that rolls along on the wheels of grace and forgiveness is what will carry us through the valley of fear. Fear can be so blinding while love is visionary. Love stands up for the least, the last and the lost. Fear wraps us up into a very small package but love frees us to expand and grow.
My friend and mentor, the late William Sloane Coffin, said, “Love is not a truth that we can subdue, it is the only one to which we can surrender.” Fear can protect us but in irrational forms it can destroy us. What kind of fear is crippling you? Is it holding you back from finding the truth that can set you free? Has that fear erected a wall to keep love out? The voice of God is speaking through our passage can you hear it? God is also speaking through John Prine as he sings, “Only love, love only, only love will do. Only love, love only, only love comes true. Nothing else , you see, there’s nothing else, only love, only love.”
Tim Willis is retired Chaplain at Clemson University, and currently works in the Intentional Interim program for churches seeking a pastor. He is also a true barbecue connoisseur, and will one day write the definitive book of barbecue across America.