Fear versus Love
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King, Jr.
On last Monday morning, Olivia and I went to Springfield to participate in the annual march honoring Dr King. For her, this was an entirely new experience. She had never before seen so many people standing together for a single purpose, with a single heart and vision, walking with signs, and greeting each other with hugs, laughing and talking as we walked. She had never seen black and white people together in such numbers, really and truly together. She hadn't heard the freedom songs. She stared and grinned, and took pictures as fast as she could: of the sign on the Dr. Martin Luther King bridge, of the crowds, of herself in the midst of the crowd. She grabbed my hand and said, "Look! Those people are from Bolivar. They go to gymnastics with me!"
That afternoon we came home and watched, "Selma, Lord, Selma," an older, child-friendly version of the Selma march and "bloody Sunday." It shocked her again that Christians were so often on the wrong side of that conflict. "But Jesus said...," she kept repeating. Yes, child, Jesus did say..."Love your neighbor"... and harder, "Love your enemies." But fear blocks love. Fear blocks understanding.
For her, it was a new thought that fear could so totally dominate a people that their response to someone else's hunger for equality and freedom would be violence and rage. But Jesus knew: under rage lies fear. Always. And only love, only love can drive that fear out and make room for the freedom to love one another as Christ has loved us.
Go and see "Selma." Watch what we, Christian and non-Christian Americans, can be like at our worst. Don't be afraid of our past fears and hatreds, or our collective history of racism. And don't explain it away, It was sin, plain and simple. But watch what love did, too. And faith. And courage.
We follow Jesus. No turning back. Jesus IS the way. And Jesus is the Truth. And Jesus is the Life, And in Him there is no darkness at all. And perfect love drives out fear, even the fear that runs so quickly to anger and violence. Love can do it still.