I have an irrational fear - or perhaps more precisely, nervousness - of 'phoning people I don't know, or don't know well. It makes me feel slightly ill, and I'm inclined to put it off, and to work out exactly what to say. If they 'phone me, it's fine, and if it's a friend or even an office full of people I know well, it's ok. In fact, if they're a fellow Christian or Christian organisation so I know we share in the Lord and his Kingdom, then it's more or less ok too. Maybe I don't fully trust that God is sovereign even when I can't see the person with whom I'm talking - maybe it's a control thing (suggestions for believing the Truth in this regard welcome as comments).
Now someone just asked me to 'phone some hostels in ski resorts in France, as she doesn't speak French. That ill feeling settled in my stomach. I quickly recalled to mind demi pension, but wasn't even sure what 'ski pass' is in French (I guessed 'ski pass' or 'pass ski' - turned out I was right). No time to put it off - no time to over-rehearse - I went for it. (Thankfully the lady had a lovely clear accent - over the phone I do struggle with lazy French accents or West African accents!) I don't say this as kudos to me(!) - any half-sane person would have no issue with ringing a hostel in the first place! But I reflected after the traumatic event, "'...love casts out fear': I wonder if this is an example of it, humanly speaking?" I wonder if God enabled me, through his Holy Spirit as he changes me and gives me love, to help this person even though through fear I really didn't want to do that task? I mean, when you love someone, you don't hesitate to help in something like that. So I reminded myself of the passage from which that phrase comes:
[1 John 4.13-21] By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.What encouragement - God himself lives in me, casting out proper fear through the love He has given us in sending Jesus to be our Saviour. This then liberates me to love people to the extent that it overrides even irrational fear!
Inconsequential pondering over. But I will rejoice for the very small sign of what Paul noticed in the Colossians, and what I've been praising God for all week in the Christian students in BUECU -
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth...