Fear of disappointment.

IMG_1352“Sorry about yesterday,” I said to Paul. “I was working on another project and I couldn’t think clearly enough to talk with you. So I just posted a rerun.”

“Why do you think you need to apologize?” Paul said. “Did you do something against God?”

“No.”

“Did you do something against someone else?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Were you afraid that you disappointed me? Or others?”

“Um, maybe.”

Paul leaned forward in the rocking chair. “Do you understand the danger of that fear of disappointing? Do you find any connection between this little conversation and why I got so upset with Peter?”

I thought for a bit. “I hadn’t until we started talking,” I said. “But I just realized that what was happening with Peter and what was happening with the Galatians, was partially about fear of disappointment and disapproval.”

“Go ahead.”

“Let me go back to your meeting in Jerusalem. You and Barnabas and Titus took an offering from Antioch to Jerusalem to help with famine relief. It was a great example of a young church helping an older church. While you were there, the elders asked how things were going and you started explaining what you had been teaching about Jesus among the gentiles. You offered Titus as an example, and you talked about the remarkable church in Antioch where there were both Jews and gentiles who were now Christians.”

Paul laughed. “It was the first time some of those leaders had heard that label. I think that might have been their first real sense that there was going to be a label other than ‘Jews who believe in Jesus.’ And it may have been the first time that some of them saw a gentile Christian, who hadn’t first been a devout man like Cornelius.”

“Cornelius was the Roman soldier that Peter talked with, right?”  I said. “Where Peter began to understand that, following the example of Jesus, it was possible to have conversation with those who were regarded as unclean?”

“True, although I need to come back to that ‘understanding’ that Peter had. But go back to the meeting. Although the elders understood the freedom that the Gospel gave, both to Jews and to Gentiles, there were some people who slipped into the meeting to spy. They weren’t comfortable with people who lived by a Jesus-centered relationship with God. They were stuck with a self-centered relationship, based on keeping the rules.”

“And making sure everyone else kept them?” I said. “That’s why you started talking about the risk of living in fear of disappointing?”

“Slaves fear for their lives, living in bondage. I saw the freedom from that kind of living, a freedom to living in relationship with God. And I was passionate about helping people see that freedom from fear. Both at an after-life level, but maybe more importantly at a right-now level.”

“You mean like worrying about a blog-post schedule?” I asked.

Paul smiled.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.