No Fear in Love
— Andy Wade —
Earlier today I posted about the motivation factor of fear. I ended that post with a quote from 1 John, “perfect love casts out fear”. But what does this “perfect love” look like?
While there are many examples of love throughout church history, today is the feast day of Saint Anysia of Thessaloniki, a martyr of the early church (around 304 A.D.). While there is not a lot of information about her, what is clear is that she loved the Lord… and she loved others.
What we know about her is that she was the daughter of wealthy parents. Once her parents died, Anysia was left with all the wealth. Stepping into her story, I wonder how I would have responded. As a young, unmarried woman in early AD 300, money would mean security. But Anysia took personal vows of both poverty and chastity, choosing to sell her possessions in order to help the poor.
It might be easy to imagine doing the same thing, but step more deeply into her context; not only was she a young, unmarried woman with no living parents, it was a time of great persecution. Emperor Maximian, following in the footsteps of Emperor Diocletian, declared open season on Christians. This was not a time of relative security and freedom of religion. This was not “persecution” by way of criticizing faith in Christ, or saying “happy holidays” rather than “merry Christmas”. This was real, full-on persecution. Personal wealth could potentially buy oneself out of a dicey situation!
Rather than allowing fear to motivate her actions, St. Anysia chose love and the way of the cross. One day, on her way to a gathering of Jesus followers, Anysia was stopped by a soldier. Pressing her as to her destination, Anysia boldly proclaimed she was headed to worship Jesus. The soldier would have none of it, insisting that she worship at the temple of the sun god. When she refused, confessing again her total faith and allegiance to Christ, the soldier drew his sword and killed her.
I am humbled by Anysia’s faith. I am humbled not just by her willingness to die for her faith in Jesus, I’m also humbled by the very difficult choices she made along the way so that she could live in love rather than fear. As I prepare to enter the new year, I wonder, what choices will I make and how will they reflect my faith… or my fears?
Making faithful choices requires us to be intentional about how we live, not always easy in our multi-tasking-obsessed culture(s). Christine has often written about how to be more intentional as we navigate our life of faith, most recently in her post, How to Make New Years’ Resolutions You Keep.
If you know Tom Sine at all, you also know that he’s all about intentionality. On January 11th, Tom will lead a workshop, “Create Your Best Life in 2014” at the Mustard Seed House. Don’t let the title confuse you, this is not some self-help workshop to make you “live a happier and more prosperous life”, this workshop is all about making our faith and the purposes of God central to the choices we make.
In 2014, I invite you to step further outside of your comfort zone and more fully into the purposes of God.