When I first became a Christian, by accepting what Jesus did for me on a cross, I was filled with a wonderful lease of life. Over zealous kind of describes it. I wanted to tell the world about what Jesus had done for me. I didn’t understand how so many Christians would not talk openly about Jesus and could hide their faith in something so wonderful.
Then one discovers fear.
Fear comes when you experience persecution. Fear comes when you are shunned and lose mates. Fear comes when you are warned not to speak of your faith in certain places like at work or at a party – “don’t ever talk politics or religion” is the catch cry.
In Jesus’ time it was no different:
Even then, many Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue. They loved human approval rather than the approval of God. John 12:42,43
Fear of excommunication – the disconnection from friends, family and work colleagues.
So how do we drive out this fear?
There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. 1Jn 4:18
And how do I temper my over-zealousness because it seemed to scare people away. There must be a balance.
We love because God first loved us. If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also. 1John 4:19-21
It’s the same answer. Love.
John makes it clear.
We must not be like Cain; he belonged to the Evil One and murdered his own brother Abel. Why did Cain murder him? Because the things he himself did were wrong, and the things his brother did were right. So do not be surprised, my friends, if the people of the world hate you. We know that we have left death and come over into life; we know it because we love others. Those who do not love are still under the power of death. Those who hate others are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life in them. This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others! If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God? My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. 1John 3:12-18
Who will you actively love, this day, today?