Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies
by Catherine McNiel
Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. So why are so many Christians taught to fear their neighbors? The American church is known as a people who are afraid, who have been nurtured through fear into hatred, and who have moved from hatred to violence—or at least to neglect. This fear, too often lived out boldly in the name of Jesus, is a false religion.
God instructs us to welcome strangers. We are not to withhold hospitality or help from anyone in need. So why do we fear strangers, especially those needing hospitality, afraid that their presence may threaten what we have?
Jesus taught us to love our enemies. We are to pray for those who actively harm us. Instead, we create enemies in our minds, seeing anyone who thinks, believes, looks, or lives differently from us as dangerous, a threat to our way of living.
The Christian community exists to declare and demonstrate God’s love and to follow Jesus in practicing love over fear, even in unsafe times and places. It’s time to reclaim our brave fear of God and risk transformative love for the sake of our neighbors, the strangers among us, and our enemies.
We are people of the Kingdom. Fearing Bravely teaches us that we have nothing to fear. Instead, we can respond to our fear problem with a brave love that emerges from choosing to let our fear of God overcome our fear of everything else.
Catherine McNiel writes with conviction, wisely guiding us to recognize our fear and, with God's help, not let it limit us to love courageously all who are among us.