"Our problem in regard to fear, is that we fear the Other more than we fear the God who commands, "Love each other." - Will Willimon
Fear is such an intense feeling in our lives that can be harmful or helpful. It can get our adrenaline going and get us out of a tough situation. It can also paralyze us and keep us stuck from moving forward.
Is listening one of those things we fear in life?
Do we have a natural inclination to hear others?
Are we open to meeting strangers and hearing their story?
Can we hear the cry of the needy?
I am reading a great book, that I would highly suggest reading, called Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love by Will Willimon. We may very well be born in sin, which includes a fear of the other, but we are also created in the image of God.
Willimon says, "Lest we speak too negatively of our genetic evolutionary inheritance of fear-or-foe and flight from the potentially threatening Other, we also ought to note the neurological evidence that we are hard-wired for social interconnectivity as well."
Science writer David Rock cites research that shows when we experience a threat we (1) think less clearly, (2) have difficulty receiving and assimilating new information, (3) make mistakes in perception and interpretation, coming to false deductions, and (4) tend to respond negatively to situations, focusing on the downside and taking few risks.
Our fear of others closes us off from hearing them, learning about them, responding to them. Yet, our God is a God who hears the cries of all his people. And we as Christians, are called to hear the cry of the needy. How can we set aside our fears long enough to listen?
Come to worship this Sunday to learn how we don’t have be afraid to listen. It is one of those first steps we can make. This Sunday we will hear from Emily Gray, the Executive Director from World Relief in Oswego and Rev. Kim Neace in Naperville.
Next week, July 17, we invite you to bring your friends, neighbors, and family to Naperville at 11:30 a.m. for an International Potluck/Refugee Forum, where you can learn more about what we can do together to care for the refugee.
We will host Keith Draper from World Relief, Randy Roberts one of our Faith Promise Partners, and Corey Ashley, our resident theologian. Sign up here to bring an item for the potluck.
"Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13