I know everyone experiences both love and fear, essential parts of being human. There is a difference, though, between what we experience as love or fear, and what power becomes its driving force. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a person to “love” something or someone in such a way that in fear of losing it or feeling undeserving of it that fear becomes more of a motivation than the initial experience of love. Scripture tells us that love and fear are mutually exclusive, so when fear is a stronger motivator than love, the results are never good.
Regarding the general environment of the world today, I often hear the phrase, “how did we come to this” meaning the general level of anger, bullying, violence, greed, mistrust, blaming, etc. I think its taken a long time to get here. When love and fear are so intermingled for so long, its hard to keep those corrupting forces at bay. If you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding, I’m sure you’re familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, which espouses the many qualities of love: patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous or inflated, not rude, does not seek its own interests, slow to anger, doesn’t obsess over injury, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. Importantly, love bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things…and never fails. A powerful phrase that I never forget: “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or clanging symbol:.
Seems pretty clear to me. I can’t say I love my brother or sister and behave in a way that is antithetical to any of those descriptions of love listed above. And since we are all human, its understandable to believe that no-one acts purely out of love or fear, but when the fear out weighs the love the scale tips in favor of all the vitriol we are facing today. I may not control what motivates others, but I can see how they behave, and often, even when defining what love “looks” like, whether it is love of God, another, or a country, it doesn’t take a genius to see what their primary motivation is. In truth, those angry, accusatory, and loud mouth individuals out there blaming sections of the population for all the world’s ills, are nothing but gongs and clanging symbols. There are loving ways to express anger and outrage…and that noise? It’s not love.
Jesus spoke a lot about separating the goats from the sheep (in my mind those who are motivated by fear and those by love respectively) and he speaks of what their personal motivation is: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” And when the righteous challenged him responding that they had never seen him in any of those situations, he said: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sister, you did for me.” Boom