Faith Involves Risk

Another word for “terror” is “fear,” and here in the “Land of the free and the home of the brave,” our daily headlines are full of fear and terror.  We put up defenses and some scary people get through.  I remember taking a flight for a Christmas vacation in 2001, only two months after the World Trade Center attacks, and eyeballing every fellow passenger that displayed even a hint of middle-eastern dress or features!  And the media told us that we were on “heightened alert” and recommended that Americans “be vigilant” and report anything suspicious to authorities.  And it seemed that everything was at least a little suspicious.

The problem is that LIFE is not born out of fear and suspicion.  LIFE only occurs amid trust.

Oh sure, you can become pregnant by a rape.  That is possible, yes, but it is not the norm, nor is it anywhere near the ideal.  Babies born of rape should be celebrated just like those born into stable families, but their origins are anomalies rather than normal or desired.

I point that out because LIFE (and thus society) depends on trust – faith.  Even without mentioning Jesus, Bible, or God the Father, it is plain to see that mutual trust is foundational to human life.  Fear is a parasite on LIFE – a parasite that dare not kill its host or else fear itself dies.  However, LIFE can live, in fact thrive, without fear sucking the life out of it.  Thus fear depends on life to live, but life does not depend on fear at all.

We need to think about this abstract stuff just for a moment.  Not that we need to get bogged down in erudite cogitation.  No, not at all.  Actually the stated case is fairly simple.  But it is somewhat abstract when put like this.

We need to think about this stuff in this way because our nation, our society, our culture – really world-wide – is under attack by terrorism.  And the fear is growing.  We see more and more people killed, gunned down senselessly.  We see internet videos of people beheaded, burned alive – and crucified.  YES, crucified.  I saw an image of an actual crucifixion on CNN last year!  Never saw it before, except what Hollywood and St. Paul (Gal. 3:1) portrayed, but now I have seen the real thing.  Wow!

And my experience with the media, our politicians, and even talking to my West Texas neighbors, finds that we want to fight fear with guns!  We want to return parasite for parasite – escalate the fear by exporting it back to our enemies.

Meanwhile, no one, but I mean NO ONE I know, makes any mention that what we need is more TRUST!  1st John 4:18 tells us, “Perfect LOVE casts out fear!”  That is the Word of God, folks!  And I don’t want to live in a world run by fear!  I want to live in the Kingdom Reign of LOVE!  But that means I am gonna hafta TRUST God and promote TRUSTING my neighbors.

Why is this important to a blog all about HOME and HOMELESS???

Glad you asked.

Because it is part of the same problem, actually.  Fear just happens to be the buzz at the moment, whereas homelessness is the red-headed step-child of both social issues and Christian ministry usually anyway.

Think about this: What is that “home security” system you have installed at your house?  My God!  You even decorate your flower bed with a sign that says in bold letters “ADT” or some other brand.  And it’s a sign that you don’t trust your neighbors!  You have effectively decorated your home with your fear!  “ADT” signs are not attractive additions to your flower beds!

Why do you lock your car up when you leave it at the store?  Because you don’t trust your neighbors!

Why do you carry mace in your purse?  Because you don’t trust your neighbors!

Why do you carry a firearm under your coat?  Because you don’t trust your neighbors!

And this is part of the same fear, lack of faith, that turns your home into a fortress of locked doors, locked windows, security alarms, and arsenals of weapons.  But when I was a kid, and certainly when my grandpa was a kid, no one (let me say that again) NO ONE, (one more time) – NO ONE! – shot up movie theaters and churches.  Then in 1966, Charles Whitman shot up the University of Texas at Austin.  Over time, schools, post offices, and restaurants became the sites of mass shootings until now it seems almost commonplace.

And we retreat to our homes for cover.

But we are betraying our homes in hundreds of other ways every day.  You can send your 18 year old off as a soldier to a distant land with a gun in his hand to defend your home, and meanwhile you betray the same home at the drop of a pair of polka-dot panties?  Why all the divorce if we want to defend home so much?

What is this home we have been defending??? 

I know that at my house, we get up each morning and go our separate ways ALL DAY LONG almost every day.  When was the last time your family all sat down to eat a home-cooked meal together AT THE TABLE? – with no football game interruptions? Really???

I mean, between school and work, football practice, piano lessons, youth group, awards ceremonies, late nights at the office, grocery shopping, and PTA meetings, there is hardly any time for eating together.  I know more about my kids from Facebook than from face time!  And this is eroding our celebration of HOME and of trust!

My grandpa grew up in a huge family.  They all worked the land together.  The women and girls had house chores, the men and boys worked the land and the animals.  The work was hard, but perhaps what made it special was the sharing of it.  And all the work stopped at meal times, at least twice a day!  And everyone ate together.  And you did not start eating until after it had been properly blessed – and God was honored.  And no one “left home” for college.

I recall one old friend from my youth – I mean he was about 90 years old at the time – telling me that when he was a kid, he remembered being closer to the people who lived on the next ranch 7 miles away than he was as an old man with his next door neighbors who lived only 17 feet away!

But then with the Industrial Revolution, dads and fathers began leaving home to work (actually moms and kids did too, but that got worked out after a while).  But then eventually, the moms returned to “the workforce” – away from home – and the kids went to “Day Care” and the home became four walls and a roof where occasionally you bumped into strangers you called “Dad” or “Mom.”

But I exaggerate…  I know.

But the mass shootings do not exaggerate.  They just keep getting worse and worse.  The fear grows more and more.  And the call to get more guns, better home security systems, and more sophisticated means of protection just gets louder and louder.  We seem to have traded a world of trust for a world of fear.  And I say what we need is more TRUST – more faith.  Perfect LOVE casts out fear!

But we have to accept that faith involves risk.  Until we accept that, we will not know LOVE at all.

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