Walk by Faith, Not by Fear

“Two men went to the temple to pray.”

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:10-11

One wonders how the disciple Matthew, a former tax collector, must have felt upon hearing this parable.

Jesus most certainly told the story to convey a message to the Pharisees: those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who are humble will be exalted.

He also wanted to communicate to those in this honor and shame culture that those who were traditionally the subject of finger-pointing, shaming and humiliating were those who Jesus himself invited to the table to eat the Bread of Life and drink his Living Water. It is a message not just for first century listeners, but for 21st century readers of the Gospel message.

copyright Susan Irene Fox

copyright Susan Irene Fox

The Pharisees of the first century were determined to keep people out of God’s kingdom. That is not God’s intention. Jesus came to invite everyone; it was a radical idea then. It’s a radical idea now. Though we may be loathe admitting it, we still live in an honor and shame culture.

Let’s get real for just a moment: in Western culture, there always appears to be a minority that seems acceptable to kick around. Oh, it’s changed over the decades, but if you really think about it, you can identify which one was the hot topic of political agendas over the years. Now, it’s the LGBTQ community, particularly in certain circles of Christianity. And the trigger word around this topic is “lifestyle.” But here is a radical, “new” concept about lifestyle.

If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious. In other words, we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of a lofty lifestyle – we must be spiritually real. [emphasis author’s] (Oswald Chambers, c. 1912*)

Being spiritually real means inviting the Holy Spirit to speak for us. It means putting aside our own, small, “religious” agendas and our fear of the differences of other people to let the love of God speak into our hearts so we can speak it into theirs.

It means courageously and outrageously speaking “the message of the gospel, of Christ absurdly serving, sacrificing, and loving people so much that He would die for them [so it is not] drowned out by morbidly dark warnings, shame tactics, ruthless accusations, angry rants, manipulative sermons, fear mongering, and vicious attacks.” – Stephen Mattson, Red Letter Christians http://bit.ly/1ff5yPA

It means opening our hearts and minds, it means embracing instead of pushing away, it means humbling ourselves to see that maybe – just maybe – our point of view of judging, shaming, accusing, denigrating and loving conditionally is wrong. It is not love. It is not following in the footsteps of a loving God.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:7-9, 18-21

If you are still unconvinced, please set aside 34 minutes to watch http://bit.ly/1jjXkHq for an eloquent and personal story.

It will be well worth your time.

We weep. We seek heaven for grace, mercy and redemption, as we try, not to get better, but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe. Linda Robertson, http://justbecausehebreathes.com

This post can also be seen on Mind’s Seat, www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com

*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, © 1935, 1992, Oswald Chambers Publications Assn, LTD

35 comments

    1. Thank you. Nice to be in touch with a sister in Christ.

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      1. No problem, spreading the word

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  1. birdchirp · ·

    Reblogged this on Redbird's Roost.

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  2. Amen and amen! I love the Mattson quote. Yes, spot on! And what you said before it…”Being spiritually real means inviting the Holy Spirit to speak for us. It means putting aside our own, small, “religious” agendas and our fear of the differences of other people to let the love of God speak into our hearts so we can speak it into theirs.” Did I say, amen yet? Can I click on a “REALLY like” button here somewhere? 🙂
    Great post. Let’s do this for a change! Blessings..

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    1. lol! Thanks for your REALLY enthusiastic comments, Mel. 😀 As I’ve said before, this is a new category for me and I never know how my opinions are going to be received. Thank you so much for spurring me on to post these more often.

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      1. Well, it couldn’t be said much better than you did, so “opine” away! 🙂
        I think we’re all starting to learn what God actually means by unconditional love. That’s love without conditions. We seemed to believe something else before.

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      2. Apparently. I consider myself blessed to have only come to the faith seven years ago. I think I’ve come without a lot of the legalistic baggage many have carried and struggled to release over the years. Another example of God’s perfect timing, at least for me.

        Thank you again for your gracious encouragement.

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      3. Amen, that you did, and you are! You can just skip a lot of what we went through over the last 30 years, thank you very much! Blessings.

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  3. I have always felt that believing in love and inclusion for all who would open their hearts without prejudice and the wish for others to see the beauty of love without needing to harm or exclude others is the closest we can get to true spiritual enlightenment while still mortal, with mortal faults.

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    1. Love and inclusion are really the foundation, aren’t they, Jenni? Thank you so much for your comments. They always are “enlightening.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) 🙂

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      1. [cheeky grin] faith isn’t all about rectitude and sobriety there has to be joy there too. 🙂

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  4. An inspired post, Susan. You delve into an area that I intend to explore in my sequel. How true are your words:

    “… it means humbling ourselves to see that maybe – just maybe – our point of view of judging, shaming, accusing, denigrating and loving conditionally is wrong. It is not love. It is not following in the footsteps of a loving God.”

    This was such a nice post to read. Thank you.

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    1. Bless you for your encouragement, Nav. These IMHO posts are always challenging territory for me. Our mutual friend, IW, has provided me with insight about stepping way outside my comfort zone to do this. These topics have weighed heavy on my heart and needed to find a way to express the hurt of and for others I was feeling.

      Those who have commented have been extremely kind thus far, and willing to look, for which I am grateful.

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      1. You absolutely nailed this one, Susan. It was a lovely post.

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      2. Thank you. 🙂

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  5. Well, every comment here makes your point and I agree. My one extra contribution, if it is one and not unduly judgmental other than to illustrate this point, it is that haters are popular. Many of the blogs I see with thousands of followers are filled with hatred and judgment. I don’t want to read the unconscious ravings of haters. In fact, I try to interact with the Holy Spirit directly as anyone else’s interpretation of Christ’s message is influenced by their human limitations. That is why I hold back from it myself. In any event: acceptance, tolerance, gentleness, humility, respectfulness, understanding, kindness to all creatures, to all species, that epitomized Christ and that is what I try to emulate, myself as best I can given that I am a flawed human being.

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    1. I absolutely agree with you, Beth. We are all flawed, and all we can do is pray for those who hate, especially those who call themselves Christians. I do not read those blogs either. It is like walking away from gossip. Though if I “happen” across one that is questioning, I will attempt to guide in love, as I would someone who tosses out a gossipy comment to me in private.

      Emulating Jesus and embodying the fruit of the Spirit is truly the goal in our walk.

      Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments.

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  6. My mum used to say, ‘Remember, when you point a finger, another three are pointing back at you.’ Judging is a dangerous game. Just as elevating self is. One seeks to be seen as righteous while the other dares anyone to discover otherwise. None of us, I fear, could take that scrutiny. It is one thing to fight injustice and other to say we are not guilty of it.
    All we can do is try to be the love He created in us.
    I had the reading above at my wedding. I adore the opening. It’s beautifully poetic.
    Once again, Susan, thank you for another opportunity for reflection. Love shines through your post.x

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    1. This category (IMHO) has been extremely difficult for me, yet my heart has been led to write about these matters. I pray continually for the Spirit’s words because I’m certain my own would be inadequate for the task. If what you perceive is love, it is His. I am thankful.

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  7. Great Post…as usual. I am always fed by your words.
    I use this message with my children all the time. I tell them that we should strive to be Christlike…NOT so that He will love us.
    BUT
    Because he first loved us.
    We can do nothing to earn or deserve his love.
    But when we love our brother, we glorify Him by following his example.
    Thanks again for your wisdom. It is a gift in my life.
    God Bless!

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    1. Thank you. It is really our calling to love, even those who do not love. Difficult sometimes, but necessary. If we are to walk in His footsteps, we must put aside our pride and obey.

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  8. My dear – a splendid write. 😀
    I love the part about angry rants! (ho hum) It is so hard to point to judgemental attitudes and hypocrisy WITHOUT then placing oneself in the same category. Correcting in love – or should I say SHARING insights in love so as not to fall into said same mindset. An outlook of ‘ You may not know what I see – but I may not know what you or someone else sees – or understands’
    My most dreaded conundrum. To point to ignorance is to deny ones own ignorance (even if it was a trait of the past) I don’t like it when people are hypocrites or pass judgement…yet if I accuse of this – then I am being what I am accusing…and so there we go – it goes around and around hey 😉

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  9. The true fear… these days… is not
    ~ Failure.
    ~ Being unloved.
    ~ Being ignored.
    Sure those are all worrisome to many Christians when they should not be.
    BUT…

    The true fear these days…

    Is being…
    DIFFERENT.

    So different in a radical, unrelenting love and following close behind Christ that others WILL notice.

    This is in my book. Why? Because it’s what drives the lukewarm, and they need to hear it.

    Great post, my friend.
    Make us think!

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    1. Thank you, Heather, for your always kind, encouraging and generous words.

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      1. 🙂
        Keep going girlfriend ~ in Christ!

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