“Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, ‘There is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’” (Gen. 20:11)
Here’s the story. When God told Abraham to leave his home, Abraham was worried about all of the people he would encounter on his journeys. He assumed that the heathens would have no fear of God and that they would kill him so that they could take his beautiful wife, Sarah. And so, Abraham did what was wrong, and told the people that Sarah was his sister. God protected Sarah, once through a dream that God sent to their hosts, and once when the “heathens” saw Abraham and Sarah holding each other. The “heathens” had more integrity than Abraham and returned Sarah to him untouched.
It goes all the way back to Abraham’s days. We draw artificial lines about people we meet. We assume because of looks, or background, social status, or sexual identity, that there can be no fear of God. Because of this, we hold back God from our interactions. We judge based on external appearances what people will be like. We create an “us” and a “them.” I have been guilty of this when I assume that someone who is more like me in social status and background might be more open to faith than someone who appears very different from me.
God’s hand and His Spirit are so much more expansive than we ever consider. He goes places we never expect and touches people in ways we never imagine. The story is told of the missionary who took the gospel to the remote jungles of Africa and told them the story of Jesus. When he told the natives of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the natives responded, “Oh, so that is His name.”
God goes before us. Instead of assuming, “There is no fear of God in this place,” why not believe that God has gone before us with His Spirit preparing the way?
Jesus is the ultimate example for us. He spent time with people with no preconceptions about them, seeing each person as the precious child of His Father. He befriended the tax collector. He healed the centurion’s servant. Jesus was unfazed about spending time with prostitutes. He loved the lepers and the Samaritan woman. Jesus made no distinctions. He looked beyond external appearances and saw the heart.
What would happen if we did not prejudge? How might our faith express itself differently if we loved “everyone, always,” as Bob Goff affirms? Are we missing out on God’s wildest blessings by calculating, like Abraham, how we might best play it safe? In the past, I have written that “we go nowhere by accident,” as my good friend Pete preaches. Perhaps I need to take it one step further and acknowledge that we go nowhere where God has not already been. He goes before us. And if God has paved the way, then we need not be afraid.