A Confession About Fearing To Love People Who Are Different Than I Am

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Fear controls my life much more than I’d like to admit. Fear wants to paralyze me. It prevents me from loving well. Yet I tolerate it. I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to succeed. I’m afraid to love. I’m really afraid to love someone who is different than I am. But…isn’t that pretty much everybody?

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So, what’s my problem? I know in my head that fear damages love. I’m like Peter. I step out of the boat to embrace Love but I sink in fear. I read, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (I John 4.18). Yet, I doubt. Can you relate with me?

If I was a 300 pound slob who smoked a pack a day, drove an old beater, and said “damn” much too often, would you treat me with contempt or deference, treat me as a project, or treat me with love? If I was a 195 pound, 6’ 3” handsome successful attorney, would you treat me with contempt or deference, treat me as a project, or treat me with love? Or, in both instances, would you be afraid to even talk to me?

Is Loving Like Jesus Possible? 

Rhonda and I saw the movie “Risen” last week. One of the most touching scenes for me occurs when Jesus is with his disciples in Galilee after the resurrection. They all observe some people cruelly ridding their village of a poor leper, kicking him, beating him, yelling at him as they inhumanely drive him away. He is left in the wilderness, a heap of painful nothingness. Jesus calmly moves from his disciples and walks to the leper, sits down next to him and lovingly embraces him. As his disciples, and the unbelieving Roman Clavius, watch from a distance, Jesus speaks words of love and healing to the man who slowly gets up and walks away healed and forever changed. And I, sitting in a comfortable theater having stuffed myself on popcorn and Coke, said to myself, “I want to be like that Jesus” knowing full well that I probably never will.

I was emotionally touched but unchanged. As much as I think I’d like to be as loving as “that” Jesus, fear prevents me. I fear those who are different. I am so far from love. Maybe I can begin to love them by, at least, not labeling them. Yah, I think I’ll start there.

I Need Prayer

Pray for me. Pray for yourself. Pray that we’ll know God and His love such that fear has little grip on us. Pray to welcome the stranger and love the enemy. Pray for God’s mercy on us and on “them.” It’s a start. Who knows where it will take us.

“O, Lord and King, grant that I might see my own faults and not to judge my brother.” (from Prayer of St. Ephrem; died 373)

Share your thoughts below. Do you struggle to love someone who is different?

Dr. K