What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?


Christianity is no spectator sport. There’s no sitting on the sidelines while trying to follow Jesus. Once we decide to follow him, Jesus invites us to join him in his mission of loving others sacrificially. Selfless sacrifice is what Jesus would define as “love.” In John 15:13, he tells his disciples,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Most of us would prefer to keep the idea of “love” as far from sacrifice as possible, where more warm-fuzzies abound and fewer hard choices are made. Unless there’s something to personally gain in exchange, we often withdraw from self-sacrifice. Our natural reflex—if we allow it to rule us—keeps us from engaging Jesus’ mission or becoming more like him.

Instead, we can choose to love like Jesus did and that decision takes some rewiring of our beliefs.


First, we have to confront the main fear underlying our distaste for loving others sacrificially. Yes, it’s generally uncomfortable, but what are we really afraid of risking? What is lost if we choose to love like Jesus?

“If I sacrifice myself to love others, who will take care of me?” a small and fearful voice inside each of us asks. Whether it’s our time, energy, or money, we know that these are limited resources, so a choice to give it away leaves us with petty leftovers—if anything at all. Left to our own devices that small voice will grow until our desire to make sure we’re well fed and taken care of rules every area of our lives.

Is that voice telling us the truth? Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25 reverses our implicit assumption:

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

Tightening your grasp around your own resources won’t produce the outcome you desire. Giving your life away by loving others is the only way to receive what God is offering us: a life free from our own self-seeking.


God doesn’t just demand we try harder at being less selfish. He frees us from focusing on ourselves—even how to take care of ourselves. Promises about God’s care for his children abound in the Bible. Here’s one to hold tightly whenever self-focused fear rises and doubt of God’s care looms:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6: 25-33

We won’t let go of the fear that we need to take care of ourselves until we grasp the truth that God does care and will care for us. We will be free to lose our lives once we trust the one who has promised us eternal life.

Encouraging the Discouraged

Encouraging the Discouraged


Despite our hopes and best efforts, we all know that walking with Jesus isn’t all mountain tops and smooth sailing. We understand that a combination of doubts and difficult circumstances could lead someone away from Jesus. Maybe you’ve experienced a rough patch in your journey of faith or continue to struggle with nagging skepticism. Or, maybe you’ve seen someone in your life make that choice and become less engaged with church and other believers.

James’ answer for our tough times is prayer and loving accountability. To close his letter, James reminds us,

“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” | James 5:19-20

James reminds us that as a part of the family of God, we are each others’ keepers. We were meant to look after one another, just like you would your biological brothers and sisters. Instead of passively standing by as others wander from the truth, we can remind them of who they are and call them back to faith. We aren’t responsible for other’s decisions, but we are responsible to them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, what are some things you can do for your friend who is struggling with faith? Here are some good places to start:

Listen well

1 // Don’t make the mistake of Job’s friends by offering unsolicited (and ultimately unhelpful) advice. Allowing someone the space to express their hurts and frustrations can help them feel less alone and show you other ways you can best encourage them.

Pray for them.

2 // Believe that prayer works and pray for your friend. Especially if your friend ask for you to pray for them, make sure you do it. If you think your friend would appreciate it, let them know you’re praying for them. It lets them know you care and want good things for them.

Connect with them.

3 // After you notice your friend stepping away, don’t simply expect them to come to you, even if you continue to invite them back to your study, small group, or Sunday service. Like Jesus would, go to them by inviting them to coffee or out to lunch—places outside of church or small group—so that you can have a one on one conversation and show that you’re personally invested.

At the end of the day, the most compelling thing is to show someone you care and to love them back towards faith. Resist the temptation to use guilt or begin to gossip. Instead, be the kind of person you’d like to experience when you’re in a tough spot: a friend who cares deeply, acts intentionally, and encourages your faith.

How to Discuss Tough Topics

How to Discuss Tough Topics


When was the last time you engaged in a discussion with someone you disagreed with? Our current culture is becoming more and more polarized and engaging in less and less dialogue. With each side creating an enemy of the other, it’s become more and more challenging to have a discussion—not a fight—about really important topics without risking damage to our relationship with one another.

As Christians, we can model to the world what it looks like to love one another even as we disagree. Because the body of Christ is blessed with lots of different kinds of people with differing backgrounds, perspectives, and personal convictions, we’re not always going to agree on every topic, even if we agree on main doctrines of faith.

Those conversations can not only be stretching but also God-glorifying, if we engage in them with these principles in mind. These guidelines come from Christlike Dialogue, a ministry dedicated to helping engage people with differing views in conversations that honor God.Keep in mind they are guidelines, not rules, or “steps to follow”. While they’re helpful in providing safe parameters for a discussion of differences, the primary goal is to prepare our hearts to be one in Christ before we begin to dialogue.

1 // PRAY Ask God to help you gain a greater understanding of each other, of what is true, and of what God might want to reveal about Himself through the conversation. – Psalm 18:30

2 // FIND COMMON GROUND Identify a common subject of interest for the dialogue. Read John 4:1-26 for an example. It can be anything you can identify as common ground (such as water in the example) that might help you relate to one another more clearly.

3 // BE HONEST Authenticity is highly valued. – Proverbs 24:26

4 // BE HUMBLE If one of the parties is in authority over the other(s),
it’s important to give people under authority freedom to respectfully discuss matters of concern without negative consequences. – Matthew 20:25-28

5 // BE TEACHABLE Remain open to the possibility of being wrong about your position, and to the possibility of being deceived. – Proverbs 3:5-6 | Jeremiah 17:9 | James 1:26

6 // LISTEN Learn from one another and don’t attempt to persuade others to your point of view or assume someone is wrong just because he or she doesn’t agree with you. Seek to understand and be understood as to why each of you believe what you believe. James 1:19-20 | Philippians 2:3-4

7 // PURSUE TRUTH Agree to give one another the freedom to speak the truth as each perceives it, without interruption from the other(s), except to ask questions for clarification. Agree to consider the Bible as a reliable source of truth and wisdom for life’s challenges. Psalm 51:6 | John 14:6 | 8:32

8 // PERSEVERE IN LOVE It is not important to agree with one another; it is important that you extend mutual respect and perfect courtesy to others, despite differences. This does not mean that you condone something about which you disagree; but it does mean that you don’t withdraw your love from others just because they don’t see things exactly as you do. Remember: the relationship is more important than the issue. John 13:34-35 | Titus 3:1-2

9 // JUDGE NOT Refrain from being critical or judgmental of others. – Matthew 7:1-5

10 // TRUST GOD WITH THE OUTCOME Agree to leave another person’s decision, and the consequences of that decision, between that person and God. (1 Peter 2:23 | 2 Timothy 2:24-26 ) Some situations may require church discipline to be administered in love. – Matthew 18:15-17

For more information about Christlike Dialogue and their mission, visit their website HERE.