“[As] we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love”
(1 John 4:17-18, NLT).
Early in the Apostle John’s letter (1 John 2:28), he talks about the confidence we will have when Christ returns because of our faith in God. At that time, people who have turned away from God will feel afraid and helpless. It will be too late – nothing more can happen. The opportunities people have had to understand God’s Word or to accept Jesus – the Son of God – as Lord and Saviour will be gone, and unbelievers will be absolutely speechless and unable to move because of their fear. True Christians, on the other hand, will feel strong and sure; they have put their belief in God.
Fears and anxieties are powerful emotions. Whether we feel fear (when we know what we are afraid of), or anxiety (when we feel afraid but we’re not sure what is causing it), such feelings can make us want to back off, withdraw, run or hide. We will often feel unsure or powerless when faced with a certain situation or person. And running away may seem like the only solution. Some of us may feel that our fears are controlling us; all we can think about is being afraid. Sometimes we even get afraid of being afraid, so we avoid certain situations to keep from becoming so strong that they overwhelm us.
But here is the great news (!) for coping with our fears: “As we live in God, our love grows more perfect… Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” As we walk in God’s light and live with God, our fears are banished. There is no room for fear in love. It is like oil and water – the two will just not mix. Love and fear are like that; they are not compatible. God calls us to be strong, courageous persons, not weak, cowardly nerds. “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.”
Friends, let’s go back to the confidence we will have as Christians when Christ returns. We know that “we will not be afraid on the day of judgment” or “fear of punishment” because we have accepted Christ (If not, you’re sure to be afraid). Jesus Christ Himself is on our side, His blood covers us – and God’s Spirit lives within us. As we believe and have confidence in God about the future, we can learn to cope with our fears on a day-to-day basis. We need to recognize and deal with our fears rather than avoid them. Then we can pray that God will help us face those situations that make us so afraid, to give us the courage to walk towards our fears rather than away from them. Well, walking through our fears may feel like walking through a long, dark tunnel. If we think about how long the tunnel is we may be tempted to give up. But if we take one step at a time, soon we feel stronger and our fears begin to lose their power. Soon the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter and brighter, and we can find our way more easily than before. No fear.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That is a gift God has given us. But it’s like a Christmas present. If we put a present away and don’t unwrap it, the gift won’t do us any good. And the gifts of courage and love won’t be ours until we claim them and ask God to change whatever habits have been giving us problems. And this love we experience with God becomes more and more perfect (or mature and complete). “As we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” It just keeps getting better and better toward perfection in Christ.
So the next time you feel like running for your life, stop! Remember the courage God promises to give you. Make use of it. Face your fears, tell them to get lost. And your fears will do the running instead of you. Amen?
Come let us “fully experienced his perfect love.”
With Christ. No fear.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.