… See, Jonah didn’t run from God because he was afraid. He didn’t run because he was afraid of the brutality of the people of Nineveh; he didn’t run because he was scared for his life. He ran because he knew God would use his message to change these people … “God, they don’t fill me with fear. What scares me is how You might ask me to love them. Do You understand what they’ve done; do you see what they are doing? They are hurtful and hate filled. What if my love is mistaken for apathy, or even worse, endorsement?” …Jonah by Blue Ridge Community Church, 21:17-21:35, 29:15-29:42 (all capitalization, punctuation, underlining added)
“What scares me is how You might ask me to love them.”
Will You ask me to get out of my comfort zone?
Will You ask me to
find make time for them?
Will You ask me to enter into the filth and smell and noise?
Will You ask me to keep praying, keep loving, when all I want to do is throw up my hands and say, “Forget about it! I’m done with them!”?
Will You ask me to not yell at them for their wrong decisions that they’re not repentant of?
Will You ask me to listen–really listen–as they keep talking and talking?
Will You ask me to love them for however long they’re in my life–knowing that it could be years or could be a couple of minutes?
Will You ask me to let them go?
Will You ask me to bite my tongue?
Will You ask me to speak up, to confront their sin, to encourage them to do better?
Will You ask me to weep?
Will You ask me to hold them in the light?
Will You ask me to hug them for more than a few seconds?
Will You ask me to be vulnerable and graciously accept their vulnerability?
Will You ask me to stay, to keep showing up and reaching out?
Will You ask me to be patient and kind, even though they can push every single button?
Will You ask me to be away from home and family for hours or days or even more?
Will You ask me to play with them, even though it may be “embarrassing” or not my type of game?
Will You ask me to face the hard situations and feelings?
Will You ask me to be friends with the “weird” person?
Will You ask me to risk people not understanding, people not caring, my reputation, my security, my heart, my life, etc.?
Will You ask me to do it again and again and again and – ?
I’m scared of what all You’ll ask.
I’m scared that things won’t change, they won’t change.
I’m scared that things–they–will change.
I’m scared of losing them.
I’m scared they’ll go to hell.
I’m scared I’ll get hurt physically, emotionally, whatever-way-you-can-get-hurt.
I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared. . .
What if my love is seen as apathy or endorsement?
What if the person/people I love think they can keep sinning?
What if others think I am indifferent to or approving of sin and they judge me, commit sin, turn away from the Church/Christ, or-or something?
What if other Christians–my fellow believers and Family–don’t understand and support and join me?
I’m scared to love, Jesus.
. . .
But I’ll love anyway.
I want to obey You. I want to please You. I want to imitate You. I want to show people You.
I choose to believe it’s worth it. I choose to believe love makes a difference–even if I never know it, even if it’s a difference in just my life.
Perfect love casts out fear*, so perfect Your love in me–dwell in me, Perfect Love.
*(1 John 4:18)