These words are written in the Bible in 1st John4:18. John who was very close to Jesus when Jesus was on earth wrote these words. He wrote There is no fear in love, but love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. That applies to our relationship with God. God wants us to experience His love for us as His children. He does not want to be slaves to fear. We can experience God’s great love when we come to know Jesus. How does this principle apply to my friendships with other people?
I have had many friends who came to America as refugees. I have heard their stories. I have met people form Iraq who suffered under the brutality of Sadaam Hussein. I have met people from Afghanistan who suffered harsh treatment by the Taliban. I have met people who fled the wars in French speaking Africa. I have met refugees from many countries. They all deal to various extents with fear. Fear of the unknown-what will happen here and how do they start their new lives. Fear for family and friends back home. Some even still fear their oppressors might still be able to do some harm to them here. Fear can grip us and control our lives. Glenn R. Schiraldi wrote in his book ‘The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Source Book’ that Post Traumatic stress is “a normal response by normal people to an abnormal situation”. I love that quote. It is such a fitting way to explain the experience of my refugee friends.They are experiencing what any of us would experience as a result of war, torture, oppression, and brutality. For some it is paralyzing. For others it is a factor but does not defeat them.
What they all need is a friend who will come alongside them. It takes patience on my part because I tend to be a person who gets back up after I get knocked down. When I am with my refugee friends, I try to remember this promise from the Bible. Love is what they need. The love of God. Unconditional, accepting, patient, and gentle love is what they need. I try to remember this because for some of them I may be the first example of true christian love them have seen. It can expressed in small simple ways such as taking them to the store, or helping them go to the bank, or helping them understand how to get started here in America. I have a friend from Congo who told me many times, “Matt you are the only one who helps me here, I don’t know what would happen to me if you did not help me”. That was nice to hear, but also made me sad to think that more people did not offer help.
We can show God’s love in small ways or big ways, but we need to show it. It is not an option. John also wrote “We love because He first loved us”. If we experience the love of God, we are to show that same love to others. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians”Blessed be the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions, so we may comfort others”. We may no tall be called to help refugees, but we are all called to love others with the love God has shown us. The question is who do we need to show that love to today?