“Take everything out of your pockets,” the man said as he approached me with his metal-detecting wand before I (Matt) entered a local high school to watch a basketball game just one week ago. In that moment I realized that God has a sense of humor. This was the exact high school I was fearful of coming to when I was a kid, and now I am raising my family in the neighborhood
Eighteen years ago, when I played basketball for Lake Washington High School, we would occasionally have to travel to play a south Seattle team. The coaches would prep us saying, “stick together,” as though something dangerous might happen between the parking lot and the gym. Fear of “the others” was birthed and it would take years to undo.
“The others” referred to anyone that wasn’t like me. People, who had different skin color, were of lower social-economic class, or from neighborhoods that tended to be crime-ridden. I remember one day about ten years ago when I was with my brother and we had to stop in South Seattle to get gas. I was afraid to even get out of the car and pump my own gas so my brother did it for me.
Fear keeps us from being fully human and fully alive. We were made to live in relationship with one another. We were made to bring all our talents to the world around us. We were made to receive and to learn from one another.
Fear poisoned me so much that safety became the primary lens through which I made decisions. This is not just my story, it’s the story of many Christ-followers in the western world.
FEAR causes us to make decisions on where to live based upon the safety of the neighborhood.
FEAR causes us to deny our appetite for risk and adventure because “it might not work out”.
FEAR causes us to engage in relationships, and share meals with ONLY those that are like us.
FEAR causes us to miss out on Kingdom-on-earth experiences because we are worried we might be “tainted by sinners”.
What would happen if we began making decisions from the example that Jesus left us rather than through the dreaded lens of fear? My hunch is that FEAR would become less of a big deal. Relationships would take center stage. People would be healed (including us). We would become fully alive. This is life as God intended it to be experienced.