So much fear and worry. I see it’s mark all over the church of today. Fear of what might happen if we love unconditionally, lay down our arms, and embrace people that are different than us. Fear that names itself as a boundary or righteousness. Fear that our loved ones won’t make it into the good version of eternity if they have different views than us.
There are so many instances, in both the Old and New Testaments, where we are told not to fear. We are invited to step out onto the water, we are invited to follow freely, we are encouraged to love unconditionally. Fear is not our ally. Fear is the enemy. It is the pathway to anxiety, distrust, and broken relationship.
“Going liberal” seems to be a pretty prevalent fear. Fear that for the liberal Christian, values and morals will be tossed aside leaving liberal believers thinking they are saved when they really aren’t. As if you could determine if someone was saved in a quick glance or with a couple of test questions.
Some assume that liberalization happens because the person in question has stopped caring, stopped thinking, or stopped working on their faith. For them, being “liberal” means giving into the world, and giving up what makes Christians unique. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Learning to love people who are different than myself, who see the world differently, and who have a wider understanding of faith, has been a journey of much thought, care, purposefulness, and meaning. There is nothing lazy about the journey required in expanding the mind.
Expanding long built patterns of thought and behavior means really wrestling with belief, faith, understanding, and the text. It means looking fear in the face and seeking understanding, not just a panic attack.Fear does not seek understanding. Fear reacts to perceived danger, often causing pain, damage, and hurt. When faith changes for another person, fear is not automatically required.
In fact, as you see faith transform in someone you love, it is important to listen to what they are really saying and thinking and feeling. Instead of giving into fear, what does it mean to acknowledge that in the midst of growth and change, they might be saying:
I still love you. I still see the value of your journey. I try to honor your perspective. And I’m asking that you do the same for me. I still believe in the same creed. I still believe in the Triune God. I still pray to and worship and love the God you do.
I don’t need you to pray for my soul. Unless, of course, you want to pray that I continue to respond to God in the ways that he is already at work in me. The journey I’m on is valid. It has meaning. It is responsive to what God is working out in me. That’s not relativistic or sappy. It is an honest response to the way God is working and moving in my life and the world around me. That is meaningful, powerful, and good.
I’m well aware that you may think I’m going to hell. It’s okay. The condemnation tapes are working hard. They grab for my attention more frequently than I would like. But, this is where I’m at: once you take the red pill there’s no going back. No matter how much you want me to be the same old me, I can’t. It can’t be undone. My world, my view, my perspective has changed. Even if I wanted to come back, I couldn’t. I just see too much now.
I’m sorry if the changes I’m going through cause you fear. Please let it go. I’m still me and I still love you.
Do not fear. Fear leads to barriers, brokenness, and pain. And I feel all of those when you stop talking to me, when you look at me sideways, when I disappear from your life.
God is doing a new thing in me. He is speaking, and moving and making all things new. I know they look different for me than they do for you. I’m okay. And you will be too.