People have a tendency to view the population of the world on a continuum. Everyone whose ideas and opinions are to the left of mine is, by definition, “a liberal,” and is to be most conscientiously converted to my way of thinking. Everyone whose ideas and opinions place them to the right of me on this imaginary bandwidth is, by definition, “a raging fundamentalist,” and is most assiduously to be avoided lest s/he try to convert me. As members of the evangelical tribe, Andy Braner maintains that we stand on “the pinnacle of truth,” and our beliefs certainly line up with the plain teaching of the Bible, but in No Fear in Love, he makes a strong case for the fact that most of us stand there, on our pinnacle, alone.
“Fear makes us hold on to what we know and what we know works. Fear doesn’t allow for us to engage in new environments with people who think differently than we do.”
As part of his ministry to teens and college students, Andy has traveled all over the world with a message of deliverance from the fear that leads to polarization, misunderstanding — and more fear.
Part One of No Fear in Love dissects fear in all its forms. Sky-diving and a near miss with a forest fire are on Andy’s list of fear-factor experiences, but, in his work, he continually encounters the truth of John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
We focus on the thief, instead of on the full life. Instead of sharing our lives with people, we hide and refuse to engage people who are seeking the fullness we claim to know.
Andy’s words will startle you and make you wonder; they will cause you to read slowly and analyze; and they will push you to ask yourself the reasons for what you believe about morality and reconciliation. His examination of Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane is worth an annual re-read before Good Friday because of all that is says about fear and suffering.
Part Two applies the principle of “loving others the way God loves us” in the complicated realm of personal evangelism with people whose world view is absolutely unscriptural. Will we view these individuals made in the image of God as another notch on our belt to be earned? What happens in the mind and heart of a follower of Jesus Christ if s/he befriends a Muslim or a Mormon? Is it possible to show respect for their culture without seeming to embrace it?
Part Three moves right into the living room where Christians disagree with one another. When we differ on issues around the sanctity of human life and the definition of marriage, is it necessary that we move to our separate plots on the continuum and never enter into dialogue? Andy Braner helps his readers to see that our fear of engaging in the conversation “blinds us to our real calling, which is mainly to be servant leaders. . . We need not fear the discussion.”
Given the nature of eggs and omelets, the fear of making a mess robs us of opportunities to communicate openly with people whose world is vastly different from our own. I’ve always felt a little sheepish about listening to predominantly left-leaning NPR, but No Fear in Love has affirmed what I’ve always thought, but never felt free to share widely. It is important for me to hear about books I may never read, to learn about ideas that are foreign to my way of thinking, and to listen to the words of people who believe things that I know to be false. Why sit on the pinnacle alone? With a little understanding and a lot of mutual respect, there’s no reason for fear.
This book was provided by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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