Ever had a time that the days seem to have a theme? For about three days a while ago, there was a theme of forgiveness. Radio pastors were speaking of forgiveness, an article spoke about the health benefits of forgiveness, and even public TV had an ad about forgiveness. Another themed period involved a couple days of arranging micro-loans to foreign women to launch businesses. This weekend, the theme was fear.
My girlfriend and I were conversing about how she appreciated her life so much more now because of the trials of the year before. We spoke about her fear and despair of her future. It somehow reminded me of a movie called “Defending Your Life” which deals with facing and conquering your fears. We watched and enjoyed the movie. We had been invited to a church service and meal the next day. We heard a revival type “hell and damnation” or “fire and brimstone” sermon.
Maybe it’s just me, but I heard fear throughout the sermon. I am sure that this is what some people need. They might need to be scared away from their wrongdoings. They may need to be confronted with the consequences to get their attention. But I heard that they should be afraid of what lies before them. That unless they are right with the Lord, that God will certainly punish them. That any sin displeases Him and He will deliver His righteous judgment and punishment upon them.
Are you afraid of God? I do not worship or obey God because I am afraid of Him. I would think that this would be a wrong motivation for me. I can’t imagine working so hard to please God because I am so afraid of the punishment that He might deal out to me. God is my father, my creator, and my friend. I know that God is Love, that He loved me first and always. My relationship with God is returning the incredible love that He shows and has shown me. Can you imagine that as imperfect as I am, as flawed as my life can be, He still loves me. I think it’s incredible.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us, to redeem us. But I think that just as important is that Jesus lived as a human, fully human and fully God. Jesus understands the trials and tribulations that afflict us. He can judge us rightly and fairly since He lived as one of us. God loves us, now and always. When we are in need, we need to ASK: Ask for help, forgiveness, strength and courage; Seek wisdom, answers and the love He freely gives; Knock at the door of God’s heart until He answers with Yes, No or Not Yet.
The fear of the Lord of the bible meant reverence, respect or to be in awe. Too many believe that we should be afraid of God. We are naturally fearful creatures. When an angel appeared to Mary, he first said, ”Do not be afraid.” When the angel appeared to Zechariah to proclaim John the Baptist’s birth, he first said, “Do not be afraid.” I am sure that if an angel came to me, I would most likely be afraid as well, only because it would be strange and awesome and unfamiliar.
Though we are sometimes told that our sins will send us to hell, Jesus died for our sins. If we believe in Him, we are saved. There is no need to be afraid. Work to please God because of your love for Him, not because you are afraid that He might punish you.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:11-19 NIV
There is nothing to be afraid of because God is Love. God loves you now and always, and even if you displease Him, He is patient, merciful and just. He waits for you to ASK that you might love and trust in Him. Do good things because of your love for Him, not because you are afraid that He might punish you. God understands that you are not perfect, that is why He sent Jesus to redeem us. It is His grace that lifts us. It is His love that embraces us. It is His mercy that accepts us. So, like the angels have said, “Do not be afraid.”