Don’t Be Afraid
1 John 4: 7-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
On May 13, 2017 several white Americans gathered at Lee Park in Charlottesville, VA with lit tiki torches protesting the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue and renaming the park. One of the protestor’s chants, “You will not replace us,” really struck a chord with me. Supposedly the protestors were all conservative white supremacists. However, their chant reminded me of some frank conversations I had with white liberals shortly after Barack Obama’s first presidential victory. Although their liberalism allowed them to verbally agree with racial equality, generations of white privilege had them genuinely concerned psychologically about what America would be like for them with a Black man in control. Even if they had voted for Barack Obama, several of them remain concerned about what changes he would bring to the country as president. Sadly, my friend, there isn’t much difference or distance between white privilege and white supremacy.
It is no big secret that many white Americans feel that their country is unfairly being taken from them. One only needs to look at the percentage of white CEO’s, homeowners, millionaires, university presidents, and professional sport team owners to know that this isn’t remotely true. Nevertheless, this fear remains real. “You will not replace us” was a very real issue in the US 2016 Presidential election.
White supremacists and white people will give many varied reasons for their mistrust, dislike, hatred and/or anger towards people of color. Yet no matter the reason, I am convinced that fear is at the root of their thought processes. In 1 Timothy, the apostle Pauls tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear. Here in 1 John, we are told that fear is not consistent with God’s love and that this self same fear will lead to hate that also is not of God.
As a dark-skinned Black man, I will not presume to know what changes white people would have to endure for real racial equality in America. Nor would I ever suggest that the changes would be small or inconsequential. However as a descendent of slaves and a survivor of police brutality, I can tell my fellow white Americans that the same God who kept African-Americans through slavery, slave rape, lynchings, Jim Crow, police brutality, stiffer prison sentences, and discrimination can definitely keep White Americans in a transition to true racial equality.
Now is not the time for fear, especially white fear; now is the time for love. As the scripture states, it is through love that we can experience the true nature of God. It is through love that we can be like Jesus in THIS world. It is through love that we can lean not to our own understanding and fully trust in God.
The fundamental questions for every Christian today are: What is driving your political ideologies? What is driving your Christian witness? What is driving your doctrinal theology? If any of your answers are linked to a fear, then you are probably not operating in the will of God.
No matter what God is always in control. Thus all of us who call ourselves Christian are required to live and operate without fear and as if the best is yet to come. Don’t be afraid, the change that God’s love will generate will not replace anyone. Why? Because God is in control and we all matter to God.