Love That Casts Out Fear
By Charles Rush
August 6, 2006
(First preached on Sept 10, 2000)
I John 4: 7-21 and John 15: 1-8
(mp3, 4Mb) ]
e of the quaint characteristics of some Asian cultures is how sensitive they are to other people’s feelings. The Financial Times carried this rejection notice, written to a writer by an editor of an Economic Journal published in Hong Kong.
have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your
paper,” says the editor, “it would be impossible for us to publish any work of
lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we
shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine
composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and
would be nice if all rejection slips were so tactful, wouldn’t it? I’ve
received dozens, probably hundreds by now, usually delivered two years after I
submitted a manuscript. They usually begin something like “Your manuscript was
discovered in our editors office when we were cleaning
it after his untimely death. We are returning it to you. Please excuse the mold
on the cover sheet. Apparently, it was used to wrap a slice of pizza several
months ago. Best wishes in finding a proper outlet for your work. Sincerely,
and I truly could care less about your silly little offering, Burton
Throckmorton III, Yale, class of 59.”
stays with us for a long time and rejections from childhood can take on an epic
character well into our adult lives. They tap into our fears of inadequacy,
fears that we are not worthy, not really loveable.
was talking with a very successful corporate executive, a guy of sizeable
accomplishment and confidence. The subject of dreams came up. We were talking
about recurring dreams that we wish would go away. He said that his was showing
up to give a speech at a meeting for stockholders. Somewhere early in his
speech, it becomes apparent that he is in the wrong meeting. This wasn’t his
company and someone pointed this out. The lights keep getting brighter, people are asking him what he thinks he is doing
showing up at the wrong meeting. He can’t just leave. People are peppering him
with questions that he can’t answer- detailed questions about a company that he
doesn’t run. He wants to just escape but his legs are numb like lead… About
this time he wakes up and can’t go back to sleep.
dreams reflect our present reality but they often have their roots in paradigms
of anxiety that we have had since childhood. I asked him about inadequacy and
anxiety in childhood. He shared one of these paradigm stories. He was 15 years
old, driving home in South Alabama. His
father was one of these Southern characters that was
bigger than life. A great outdoorsman and he could fix anything that was
broken. He brought the solution to every problem, at least physical problems.
But he was also rather aloof and distant, emotionally speaking, as was given to
men of that generation.
friend is driving home from deer hunting, his father in the passenger seat. He
falls asleep at the wheel, the truck veers of the macadam,
rolls on its side. They wreck. This is the era before seat belts were
normative. When he comes to, he sees his father with his head through the
windshield, a collar of glass jagging around his throat. The kid is horrified.
His dad says to him, “Son, I need you to carefully push this glass back from
around my throat or else I am going to bleed to death.” He pushed the glass back, his dad pulled his head back into the cab of the
truck. Together they shimmied out the passenger window, walked up the embankment
onto the rural road, and flagged down the first car that drove by. The Dad is
bleeding profusely all over his shirt and neck, the father says to the driver,
“My name is Roswell McCaslin and who are you”, as he
extends his hand to shake it. Emergency,
yes, but there is always time for proper manners. The driver gave his name and
Mr. McCaslin said, “I know your father, a good man.
I’ve been cut rather badly and can’t wait for an ambulence.
Could you drive us both to a hospital?”
on that event, my friend said, “My father was always in control, I was the one
making the bone headed mistakes. I drove all the way to the hospital thinking
to myself, ‘I’ve killed my father because I couldn’t stay awake.’ What would I
say to my mother, my brothers. But he didn’t die. He
never talked about that day but he never let me drive again to go hunting. It
was years before I could feel adequate in his presence. It wasn’t any one thing
he said or did, it was just everything about who I was
when I was around him.
is a funny thing how often our families create for us a climate of anxiety/low
grade dread/small size fear. Our lesson this morning from I John says that love
drives out fear. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.” It
casts out anxiety and insecurity. It casts out dread. It is not automatic. This
is something that we are all in process about, working towards the place where
we can provide a space of real acceptance and security for those that we are
close to. We want to build them up and allow them to develop into their
potential. But it is not an easy task or a simple one. As our gospel lesson
suggests, we are only able to make others feel secure/accepted/ loved to the
degree that we allow the Spirit of God to transform us. In other words, the way
of loving is a spiritual transformation. It is not a done deal or a
simple set of etiquitte that is to be consistently
applied. It is a process whereby we are transformed by God’s love for us. As we
become secure in God’s love, we are able to radiate out love for others and
make them secure.
I John says “No one has ever seen God, Yet if we love
one another, God dwells in us” (v. 12) The whole point of the gospel is that
God took the initiative and loves us unexpectedly, undeservedly, unconditionally.
God loves us when even when we are unloveable.
is good news and it remains good news for us because the vast majority of us
still act as though love is a reward for good behavior. If you shape up, then I
will love you. If you love me, then I will love you. If you do what I want,
become the person I want you to become, then I will
love you. The gospel of John cuts through our approach to relationships. John
says, “In this is love, not that we love God but that God loves us.”
And if you have this love in your
life, it will radiate out of you.
Marney told about an old man who once asked him,
“Have you ever seen God?” I suppose that is a question you might ask a
Minister. Marney thought about if for a minute and
said, “No but I have seen a couple of Jesuses in my
life.” That is what John is talking about. You can see God’s love in action.
St. Francis once said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use
it’s best days that is what the Church universal is
really all about, we are trying to be the face of Jesus for each other. We come
together as an extended family of families to develop our skills to become more
loving. We are trying to create a space where people can feel accepted by God
and secure enough that they can radiate that out to others.
year we are focusing our energy on creating a space for community acceptance
for our Middle School and High School kids. Since I’ve been here, we have
evolved from having volunteers to lead the youth, to having a part-time person.
This year we have full-time pastoral leadership in Tom Martinez.
years are pivotal for our kids. And they are tough years too- there are regular
intrusions of self-doubt, anxiety, trying to find a place to fit in. I know
that our parents, our families need all the help they can get trying to create
a positive spiritual space so our teenagers can develop their own grounding
emotionally/spiritually/morally. At least on this point, it really does take a
village to raise a child. It is my hope that we can put together a program and
community for our teenagers that will compliment the fine education they are
getting as children. We are going to have regular weekly meetings, and also retreats, as well as some mission and service projects.
I want you to know that we are doing our small part to provide a place for all
the kids in the community. Every few weeks, we sponsor a band night at the
Church where our teens can come and dance, hear some
local bands that are forming in a drug free/alcohol free environment. It is a
small thing but no one else is doing it.
we are focusing some energy on our big kids too. Our adult education program
has some solid offerings. [Read a few]. We’ve put together some dates for this
semester. I hope you will pick one up and come and get some edumacation.
we have two staff and 5 lay people that have been trained in Stephen Ministry because we
want to care for each other better. If you know of somebody that would benefit
from having a Stephen Minister check in on them on a regular basis- because
they have gone through a death recently perhaps, or a job change that was
prolonged and more stressful than they realized, or they have a chronic
situation in their family and they need a place to process the burdens they are having
to carry, let us know. We have people who want to check in with them and walk
them through these difficult times. They can be someone that you know or
someone from another church in the area that you don’t.
like to think that through our programs and through the ways that we live our
lives together, we are creating the climate for love
to happen around us. Our families need that support. We all need to stretch
ourselves and reach out to others in love and service. In the end, it is all of
Back when Sarajevo was under
siege, there was an American who was in the city one day when sniper fire
erupted. He saw a young girl get hit and fall to the ground. A man ran into the
middle of the road and picked her up. The American had a car, so he jumped in,
drove over to the man and said, “Get in. I will take you to the hospital.”
started to head for the hospital. On the way the man hlding
the girly in the back seat on his lap said, “Hurry mister, she is still alive.”
little while later he said, “hurry mister, she is still breathing.” He drove
few moments later he said, “Hurry, she is still warm.”
got to the hospital, turned the child over to the doctors. The man said, “hurry please. She is getting cold.”
died. The two men were washing the blood from their hands. The man who had
carried the young girl had tears in his eyes. He said “I don’t know how I am
going to tell her father that she is dead.”
American was astonished. He said, “I thought she was your child.”
man looked back at him and said, “Aren’t they all.”
is the way God looks at it. They are all God’s children. “No one has ever seen
God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in
who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their neighbor, are liars; for those who do not
love the neighbor whom they have seen, cannot love the God whom they have not
seen.” Brothers and sisters, let us perfects God’s
love in each others lives. May the Spirit of love break out in our midst. Amen
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