By Robert Halsey Pine
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” (1 John 4:7-21 NRSV).
This is my test every day. I try to love God and my brothers and sisters. In this I hope to find freedom from worry and fear. And every time worry or fear creeps in I know that I am not doing a good job in loving God and thus my neighbors. It is an hour by hour, minute by minute challenge.
There is an unwanted interruption, a negative phone call, a task not done by someone that I was depending on, my own lack of attention to a situation, a past due notice that I’ve already paid, the threat of a law suit, the product I recently bought doesn’t work, I get put on hold for 10 minutes when I call to complain, I see gossip ruining relationships, my hard work goes unappreciated. I cry out, “If it wasn’t for people, things would be great!” The truth is that if it weren’t for people, it would be more difficult to know God. He reveals Himself in us who believe in Him through Christ Jesus whom He sent with His Word.
In all of this is my need to love and trust in God and to love others as God loves me. I sometimes think that people are keeping me from loving God. I once heard an Israeli say that God took a nap during the Holocaust. I guess God’s answer might be that people stopped loving one another. We are in a war that we must fight by loving God and our friends and persecutors. I heard a poet who had witnessed a tragedy being interviewed by the media. She didn’t want to talk about the atrocities that she had witnessed. She wished to talk and write about the love that she observed and felt in the middle of chaos.
With all the assets in the world that God has given us, no one should be fearful or wanting. The yeast that is missing to make God’s human bread experiment rise is His children’s love for Him and for each other. These two things continue to change the world, but there is much more work to be done. HURRY!
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.