Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Fear

Henri Nouwen wrote in Turn My Mourning into Dancing about how people are many times driven by fear of losing something that they have. We fear burglary, so we spend thousands on home security. We fear losing status, so we try to paint a face on ourselves that elevates our standing. We fear this and that, so we focus on taking whatever measures we deem necessary to protect and hang onto these things. The scripture teaches that God is not a God of fear. Yahweh is all about love and security. Nouwen's argument leads us to try and simplify our lives by letting go of things. When we realize that we cannot hang onto them anyhow, where is the sense in tenaciously clinging to stuff that is going to pass away? Jim Elliot wrote, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." True words.
I'd like to take this idea a step further. There are many people in the U.S. who make the argument that this country was built on "Christian" ideals and principles. This allows them to equate anything patriotic with the "Judeo/Christian ethic." (Whatever that is.) This includes the concept of Manifest Destiny, unfettered capitalism, white patriarchy, and American Exceptionalism. It also creates an environment where we need to have the biggest, baddest military and economic system so that we can protect what is perceived to be 'ours.' And, whatever is 'ours' is our right to claim as Americans. We live in constant fear that some country or power or terrorist organization will try to take what is 'ours.' We justify these actions by quoting some scripture taken out of context.
When I read the scriptures, however, I find a different view on things. I see what Nouwen wrote about. I find Jesus as a servant calling others to service. I find that detachment from stuff is the road to happiness and contentment. I find a rich guy who was told that he lacked one thing. He should go and sell his stuff and give to the poor. Then, follow Jesus. Perhaps if the U.S. was to actually take a Judeo/Christian view and, say, forgive the crippling debts of developing countries, particularly in Africa that we could, as a nation, make a positive impact in the world. Maybe, if we took Jesus' words to forgive and pray for our enemies Iran and others would not consider us the Great Satan. We could become a true expression of Jesus' love for the whole world. This was evidenced by his obedience to the Father in laying down his life for the world. What better example of "letting go" is there?

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