Faith and Fear

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My faith has never felt overwhelmed by risk. The risks I have known were built steadily over time; the heaviness of them remaining unfelt, and only realized as risks when there was no longer weight to them.

Being a Christian in Phoenix, Arizona came with a different set of risks. It was risky to say homosexuality shouldn’t be considered a sin. It was risky to say gay and lesbian individuals shouldn’t be the only group considered when we talk about being “Open and Affirming.” It was risky to use she in reference to God. It was risky to say a literal interpretation of the Bible was not the way I read the Bible. It was risky to say works are not the means of salvation.

But the risk didn’t feel risky because it was enveloped in the pursuit of love, the love of others, and the desire for God to be seen “as love rather than as arbitrary-rule-giver,” a phrase my pastor used last Sunday.

In Berkeley, I am finding the risks almost as humid as the air. It feels risky to claim Jesus. It feels risky to use a masculine pronoun to talk about God. It feels risky claim the Trinity. It feels risky to live my faith in this space. And this is not gradual; this is right now, and I have found myself afraid. I am surprised by this fear and ashamed of it.

Something else my pastor back home said in a sermon is, “When we truly find ourselves committed, we find ourselves as part of a changed reality.” At the time he was talking about who we identify as neighbor and by whom we find ourselves neighbored, essentially being surprised by love in Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable. When we find ourselves truly committed to how God/Jesus-love behaves, we cannot help but be changed by it.

I have found myself committed to following love, to following God to Berkeley, and reality is changing, but not in any of the ways I anticipated. That is the nature of a life committed. Something I am learning about love: it never ceases to surprise.

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