“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” – 1 John 4:18a
After looping my dog’s leash around a post, I stepped into a shop for a cup of tea. The next thing I knew, Scout was flying down the street at a dead run, the post bouncing behind her. I couldn’t tell if she was chasing something or she herself was being chased, but she looked to be running scared.
In these chaotic days of executive orders and marches, policy changes and protests, immigration raids and rapid response networks, I see frenzied, almost non-stop activity. I look around at people I love and respect—social justice veterans, enraged youth, terrified immigrants, despairing LGBTQ folks, wary Muslims, first-time activists—and sometimes wonder if we are all running scared.
What motivates our throes of civic action? What generates our columns of resistance? What galvanizes me to action?
Is it hatred of “the other side,” anxiety about what might happen, an all-too- legitimate fear that we or others we care about will be harmed? Is it a passion for justice, concern for the least and the lost, love for the God of the poor? Most days it seems to be a mighty mix of all of that.
Jesus was forever telling his followers not to be afraid, and yet there was—and there is—much to fear. What he really meant, I think, had less to do with feeling than action. “I understand that you are afraid,” he might have said, “but don’t live out of your fears. Instead, let love be your fuel.”
Take away my fear, Rebel Jesus. May it be love that drives my holy resistance. Let it be love that keeps me going.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.