26 March 2020 – Perfect love drives out fear

What is it that matters most in life? Is it passing exams at school or university? Is it getting good feedback in an appraisal at work? Is it getting all the groceries when you go to the shops? Is it for those more familiar with social media the number of ‘likes’ we get to our posts? I could go on and list many more things here but you get the point very quickly that these incredibly important things amongst others in our lives that really do matter to us – but they are not at the top of our list of what matters most in life. What is currently at the top of your list? Or maybe second or third in line? It may even be a worthwhile exercise to write down on paper what comes to mind.

I want to suggest that the top of our list is being loved. I mean that our existence actually really matters to another person or some other people on this planet. All of us at one time or other will have experienced that horrible feeling of intense loneliness despite being present amongst other people. For most of us as we get our bearings and relate to the people present our feelings can change, but the thought of spending our whole lives without anyone else noticing or caring for us is a sobering prospect. Thank God today for the precious people in your life who love and care for you. Thank God for the family members and friends who have encouraged and supported you through tough times and good. Maybe even in these difficult times at present you have someone or some people to thank for blessing you with some acts of kindness. And in turn you may have been an encouragement to another person or people as well.     

The apostle John, one of the closest followers of Jesus and the only one to die naturally of old age reflected in his later years quite a lot on the amazing love of God, in particular in I John chapter four. I want very briefly to reflect on a small part of that chapter today. It states: 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus.  18 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. (I John 4:16b-18)

What point or points is John making here?

  1. God is love At the heart of who God is and central to His essential being is perfect love. His attitude towards His creation and in particular humanity is of the purest and highest affection. Our love or practical care for others can sometimes be motivated by self-interest as well as by a desire to bless another person in some way. In all His thoughts and actions towards us, God has the highest motives and seeks the very best for us.  Everything He says and does is infused by love. Is that not totally amazing?

  2. His calling for us This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus One day we will stand before God to give an account of our lives. This is deadly serious. What is the pointer He gives us as to the best way to live? It is to be like Jesus. Jesus who died on the cross 2,000 years ago to pay the penalty for our sins and to bring us into God’s family when by faith we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, also sought to model for us a way of life.

    Years ago some Christians used to wear a wrist band with WWJD? inscribed on it (What would Jesus do?). Sometimes the honest answer is that we do not know what choice He would make in our position. But much more often we are challenged to act in a particular way because we ‘know’ what we should say or do!

  3. The blessing of living this way perfect love drives out fear … If in my attitudes, words and actions as a follower of Jesus I genuinely seek to do what is loving towards God and other people, the fear of getting or keeping the approval of others will diminish. The Christian will want to say: My main aim in life is to please Him. If we live this way in practice then we will also be a blessing to other people because everyone benefits from a person living this way. It has been great to see so many people in our communities offering to help others in this time of crisis – is it just possible to dream that some of the benefits of the love and kindness shown to others might be continued when some sort of ‘normality’ returns?

Brian Talbot