Tune Out Fear—Listen to Christ
By Deb Crowley of Urbandale, IA, USA
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. —Jeremiah 29:4–5, 7, 11 NRSV
There is such fear in the world today. Following the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, the media lit up with voices of fear. Some said if the USA allowed Syrian refugees to enter the country, it would create an open gate for terrorists. Not only that, how could we possible care for those fleeing for their lives when there are so many homeless and hungry among us? Words rampant with fear!
Was it fear that caused the priest and the Levite to steer clear of the man lying on the road half dead? Was it fear that kept religious leaders from touching the leper or ministering among the mentally ill? Did fear prevent them from inviting a tax collector to their home for supper? Did words of fear, with tradition, distrust, concern for personal safety, or interpretation of godly “duty,” speak louder than Jesus’ words? Couldn’t they hear his message of love, mercy, and compassion for all?
Jesus caused holy disruption! He upset the old ways and taught new norms. He didn’t just preach it—he lived it. He continually taught God’s radical love—selfless, nondiscriminatory, unending love.
He explained that when disciples feed the hungry, take in the stranger, visit the prisoner—when they “get their hands dirty” —they prepare their hands to serve Christ. When they risk out of compassion for one of these, they are ministering to Jesus himself. Do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36).
Surely God must weep for the suffering poor, displaced, mistreated, and the homeless—refugees of the world. Is this needless suffering God’s will? Surely not! God calls us to open our hearts and minds and ears to hear pleading mothers and fathers across the globe who simply want a future of hope for their children.
How can those who proclaim Christ turn away from the voices crying for help? Let’s stop listening to words of fear. Let’s forget the politics and perhaps sacrifice some of our plenty and respond to the cries for help.
As we hear of the refugees’ continuing struggle, let Christ’s words of love be the source of our response.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, help us listen carefully so we may hear—not the loudest voices—but what matters most. May we share—not the easiest peace—but the longest lasting peace.
Spiritual Practice: Voices of God
What is the voice of God saying to us? Do we hear the whispers of God’s longing for shalom, God’s dream of beauty and wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the “voice” of God calling to us in faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise? Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the pursuit of peace and justice? How does the call of shalom continue to come to you through the many “voices” of God?
Today, God, you will be my filter when words of fear fight for my attention. I will listen to brave love which speaks truth to power.