Loving other people can feel like stepping across a field of land mines sometimes. Perhaps this is truest of all online. Politics. Social issues. The latest offense at school or work or the fast-food drive-through. It’s all there. Angry words, sharp-pointed opinions, the shrapnel of bitterness and envy. Why do we do this to each other?
I’ve come to believe this: we are most angry when we are most afraid. It’s the old flight-or-fight response built into our bodies from the beginning. Some of us flee, but others of us pick up our guns and load them with words. We think we are saving ourselves, maybe even saving the world, but we are destroyers in disguise.
I recently talked about this with two friends and fellow writers. During our conversation, this verse came to mind:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18–19
We, as humans, tend to think if we can have things our way, then the world will be better. So we fight our fear aggressively and forcefully. We post and shout. We raise our fists and our voices.
But what if instead of spewing those angry words and that tirade online, we simply go to the person who is standing in our kitchen today and say, “I love you and I am for you”? Or we reach out to someone who is different from us? Because we also fear what we don’t understand. And if we’re spending all our time saying, “Here’s my opinion,” then we’re not listening, not understanding. Fear wins.
One of my friends asked, “What would it be like if we made a commitment to fight for each other instead of with each other?” It’s a question worth considering if we want to defeat fear. Because if we live with swords drawn in defense, then we are always on guard, looking for the next fight, seeing threatening shadows in every corner.
We have a Protector. He is good. He is wise. He is kind. And here’s what we need to know: God hasn’t asked us to be right all the time. He has called us to love. This is the harder, braver choice. Because it requires opening our hearts instead of our mouths. It’s about seeing each other not as threats but as people made in the image of God. It means we lay down our weapons and go, with arms wide open, down a path that could very well lead to a cross.
At first we might be scared. This is not the easy option, after all. But it is the fiercehearted one. And it’s the only way back to grace and peace, mercy and hope, humility and kindness.
I still believe this: love is stronger than fear.
God, You are the maker of all human beings, those we care for most and the ones who will always be a mystery to us. Give us eyes to see others as You do, a heart that has compassion like Yours, and the strength to keep on loving. Amen.
This post is the Day Twelve devotion from Strong, Brave, Loved: Empowering Reminders of Who You Really Are. My new devotional released earlier this month, and I’d love for you to join me as we walk through it each day — together. Information on the Online Bible Study is available here, and I hope you’ll sign up!
Today’s episode of More than Small Talk is one you’ll definitely want to listen to before the holidays. Listen to Episode 46: Finding Sacred Rest here.