“I am the bearer of a message packed full of love for people I am afraid to be around.” – John Fischer
I chanced upon this sentence of mine reading a review of my latest book, Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian: Wide Awake and Not Alone. As a published writer, I am well aware of stumbling onto something I have written that shows me I had a hold of something beyond my ability to fully grasp — something that can hit me years later right between the eyes. “Did I say that?”
I don’t know if any of you feel this tension, but I still do; I suppose I always will. I was brought up in an environment where I was taught to fear non-Christians. They were tougher, stronger, meaner, and bad for me. It was nothing short of prejudice. We could “witness” to non-Christians — the Christian equivalent of proselytizing — but that was about it. This separation and avoidance may have started out as a kind of protection, but it later became all about being comfortable. It’s easier being around people who think more or less the same things and the same way you do. There’s an inside language we all understand. You don’t have to work so hard to communicate. We know what we mean (at least we think we do).
None of these reasons are valid, and they are all truly bad for the gospel for the very reason I stated in this quote. We are bearers of a message of love — indeed we ARE the message. The love comes through us. It’s not just a message we deliver, it’s love we express in many ways, through caring for someone, listening to them, being a friend, showing an interest in what they are interested in. The message is communicated by way of a relationship, and if that relationship is with someone I’m afraid of or otherwise disinterested in, it’s not going to happen. Whatever keeps us from people, be it fear, intimidation, judgment, or pride, we must get over it. These are barriers we simply have to overcome. The love of God compels us.