LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR – Overcoming The Fear Of Strangers
And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39
The fear of strangers is a universal fear, common to all the fallen cultures of men. I recently read of an island off the coast of India where, if you arrive there, the natives come and kill you, simply for being a stranger. I go to many strange places, and the universal response of the man on the street to me is fear, which ranges from apathy to hostility. After Adam sinned, his initial response to God’s overtures was fear. He hid himself. The fruit of sin is fear, manifesting as hostility, and shame. You look at people, they look down. You smile at them, they wilt (in some cultures, it is a cultural ‘no-no’ to smile in public). The fear of strangers is rooted deeply within the soul of fallen man.
There is even an English word for this fear – XENOPHOBIA – meaning fear or hatred of strangers. Now, it’s one thing for fallen man to fear strangers, but if you as a born again one fear strangers (fear is ANYTHING outside of love, from apathy and indifference to superiority and hatred), you will not be able to successfully run a house church. If the members of your team have a fear of strangers, then you will have a ‘Christian club,’ where no stranger comes, and not a ‘house church,’ where the lost are saved, healed, delivered, filled, and discipled.
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men (things)…Titus 1:8 KJV
Two of the requirements of an EPISKOPOS – translated ‘bishop’ but could be better understood as ‘overseer’ – is that they be a lover of strangers (the word ‘hospitality’ is the word PHILOXENOS, meaning ‘lover/ friend of strangers’) and a lover of good things, i.e. a promoter of virtue. You and I must learn to love strangers!
Years ago, the Holy Spirit taught me to love strangers by simply greeting people. I would run through town as a jogger and simply greet everyone as I met them, and wave to the drivers of every vehicle. I have become well-liked in our town because I have learned to love my neighbors. A stranger has become a friend I haven’t met yet!
Now, let’s talk about strangers and our house churches…
Behold, I give you the authority (EXOUSIA: Kingdom enforcement authority) to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 NKJV
The reason we fear strangers is because of what we think they might do to us that we aren’t prepared for. The key is to get prepared and take away their ability to do us harm. You do this by the Spirit of God. Jesus never carried a weapon, but in all the times the devil tried to kill him, he was unsuccessful in even touching Him. Why? Jesus walked in Kingdom authority. You and I can learn to walk in Kingdom authority in our daily lives, and all of our ministry situations.
Learn all you can about the authority you have in Christ (check out THE BELIEVER’S AUTHORITY by Kenneth Hagin Sr.), and then practice it. There are two ways to practice it – in your mind, and in real life, smaller situations. In your mind see yourself laying hands on someone and casting out a demon. In your mind see yourself confronting a man with a gun and saying, “STOP in Jesus’ Name…put that thing down, NOW!” And see them doing it…Practice prepares you for the real crisis that may never come, bless God forever.
It is interesting to note that the phrase ‘nothing shall by any means hurt you’ is one of the most emphatic in the Greek New Testament. It’s a double negative, meaning ‘…NO, absolutely nothing…’ which hinges upon you walking in the first part of the verse, your authority in Christ.
My sheep hear My voice…John 10:1 NKJV
The key is to be confident that you can discern God’s voice under duress. In real life, if you lose something, stop and ask God to show you where it is. Command that it will return in Jesus’ name. Instead of rushing around looking for it, get quiet and let God show you where it is. Practice in small things prepares you to handle bigger things just as easily. Learning through continual practice to hear the Lord’s voice in little things will prepare to recognize His voice when you are under stress…
So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. 1 Samuel 9:15 NKJV
Another great reality is that as you develop yourself in the gift of discerning of spirits, the Lord will be able to ‘download’ a complete spiritual inventory of that stranger even before you meet him, or as you meet him. You will instantly know him, and how to deal with him. You need not fear anyone. God ALWAYS prepares you in advance if you have ears to hear…
Love overcomes fear. Love is a decision, not an emotional response. Decide to love strangers. It will be one of the most important decisions you ever make in your ministry career.
Remember dear one, we must be about our Father’s business…