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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Opposite of Love is Fear

Written by: on March 23, 2019

Today, I chose to take the opportunity to visit a Muslim church service that was honoring the victims of the horrible New Zealand tragedy. It was a ‘community service’ open to the public. I wanted to write this blog after attending the service, as I had just devoured Douthat’s book and felt a little ‘boxed in’ by his rhetoric. The service was very enlightening and warm, and many questions were answered by the Iman (whom I learned is the church leader). I learned that Muslims are very loving people and live their lives on a ‘works’ principle instead of a ‘grace’ principle, which differs so much from Christianity. They also believe in Jesus, but not in the Trinity. Jesus, to them, was a great profit, not a Savior. I was surprised to learn they believe in angels and many of the OT prophets. Mostly, I was in awe of their love for those around them and for the world.  So, it makes the tragedy in New Zealand all the more senseless. Why are we so afraid of others and their different beliefs? We don’t take the time to understand.

The opposite of love is not hate. It is fear. It is fear of the unknown; fear of not learning what others are all about or who they really are. It is often created through pre-existing bias and expectation of future threat. We often deduce things that are going to happen and anticipate threat. So often our responses our negative – before we even analyze the situation and seek answers to the truth. (Spoken like a true counselor, eh?) As a counselor, I found that fear is often the guiding light for people – preconceived notions of the future. And if our thinking is skewed due to prior circumstances in our life, this can be a powder-keg situation for those living their lives in fear, which truly is the opposite of love…walking in faith and trusting God’s plan.

So, now to tackle Douthat. I found this author to be both negative and far-reaching in his beliefs, almost to the point of fear. By that, I mean that Douthat makes it sound like Christianity is no longer functional in the USA. He claimed that Christianity is mostly misused and misunderstood today and that it is watered-down and falsely promises success to followers. The author then asks: how do we reclaim it?[1] (as though it’s already lost.)

Douthat claims: “It is not enough for Americans to respect orthodox Christianity a bit more than they do at present. To make a difference in our common life, Christianity must be lived – not as a means to social cohesion or national renewal, but as an end unto itself.”[2] Yet, I believe Christians do ‘live’ Christianity. I know there are skewed ideas from some churches and that theology at times has become more loosely adhered to. But, for the most part, I see Christianity alive and well in so many wonderful ways.

There certainly needs to be renewal and accountability for our actions. Yet, what is so exciting is that many Christians today are learning to not just walk in the role of a ‘follower,’ but instead in the role of a ‘Servant of Christ.’ Servant leadership encompasses not just the pastors of the church, but the followers as well. If we are serving as Christ on this earth, He came to help the unsaved, not the saved. Often, it is the church members who are out in the streets, doing the work of Jesus, as the church leaders are often in the role of running the churches and making all the pieces fit. Both roles are crucial, but it is so exciting to see the new ‘movements’ towards servanthood taking place within our local communities (i.e., Jesus Loves Kalamazoo, Love Inc.), which are drawing people into servant leadership by reaching deep into the areas of need in our cities. The author may not approve of this type of Christianity….but I do! It is reaching the secular world in such a positive, impactful way.

So, to sum up this blog, I think all we need as Christians is to allow Christ to serve as our example – and to live together in LOVE. Let’s let love win and trust in Jesus! “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). We’ve already got our Leadership in place…now let’s follow His Lead!!!

[1] Ross Douthat. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012), Kindle Edition

[2] Douthat, Bad Religion, 294.

About the Author

mm

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

8 responses to “The Opposite of Love is Fear”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    So awesome that you got to attend that service, you have displayed what true Christianity is all about and I believe what Douthat was getting at. As I pastor in a local church this book hit me in a different way, in that it brought some clarity to some of the issues we face with people especially in light of the social media driven world where everyone has a platform and almost equal status of authority. One of my big takeaways is that it’s not just important for the leaders to know what is right thinking about God but also the people we lead. We can’t just be the “go to” women and men of God but everyone needs to be able to right divided the word of truth.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much, Mario. I really like your take on Douthat’s book. You are looking at it from a different perspective because of your role as pastor – and I appreciate your reflection. I love your idea about knowledge of right-thinking with regards to the people you lead as a pastor. Wonderful insight, my friend!

  2. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Nancy, you have such a beautiful way of finding the positive and uplifting in all things. Kalamazoo is such a better place because of you!

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Oh, Jacob, you are too kind! I appreciate your positive comments and the gifts you give to others. You have such a caring personality, Jacob, and Christ’s love shines through it!

  3. mm Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, you are right that fear is the opposite of love. As Christians, we cannot be overtaken by fear. Christianity may not be what it was in the 1950s but that version had its problems as well. We must continue as you said, to let love win! Blessings!

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Blessings back to you, Mary. I appreciate your response to my blog and agree that the church has changed. But, in many ways, it has changed in a positive way. We just need to continue to walk as Christians – and let our light shine!

  4. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Nancy, I am so glad you experienced this! Having been in North Africa this year, I much of the same as you describe. I also agree that there is much more genuine Christianity being lived out that Douthat gave credence to. I think the media has magnified the “heresies” Douthat describes to make us think this is all there is to Christianity. We all know better. Heretics have always been around and most likely, always will be.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Tammy. You are experiencing so many wonderful traveling opportunities in your ministry. I am so happy for you! I agree that heretics will always be around, but we must continue to shine as Christians – and let that light reflect on others. Thanks for all you do for this world, Tammy….

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