Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fear And Love

It is not true that some people are evil, let alone pure evil.  That is to deny our complicity, our responsibility.

Neither is it true that everyone is evil, in the sense in which we understand and use the term today.  That is to demonise people, and to preach a gospel of sin management.

It is true that each and every one of us is capable of doing evil things, and this happens, very simply, when we give way to fear in our hearts.

A man in Norway goes on a calculated rampage because in his heart he has given way to fear, of the direction he saw his nation going in.

Men, women and children across England go looting because in their hearts they have given way to fear, of the consequences of having been disenfranchised (they have been disenfranchised, but there is a difference between being disenfranchised and giving way to fear), of the way their lives are impacted by others who lack moral authority: everyone is on the make; why should I lose out?  And those others respond with heavy-handed retaliation, because in their hearts they have given way to fear, that their privileged position might be taken from them.

Each and every one of us can give way to fear, and when we do our actions of self-preservation will have a destructive impact on those around us.  But giving way to fear is not inevitable.  John, the beloved disciple, writes that perfect love drives out fear.  We overcome fear as we experience and receive the love of God the Father.  And the way that we come to the Father is through Jesus Christ, his Son.  And the way that we see Jesus is through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has been poured out on all humanity from the Day of Pentecost onwards.  We experience love driving out fear by degrees, as we give way to fear and then repent – come back to Love – and are strengthened to overcome fear with love.

When we choose not to give way to fear, each and every one of us is capable of the perfection we are called to (God does not set us up for a fall), is capable of incredible creative action that brings life to others.  The choice is ours.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  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.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they 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 them.  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.  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.  If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars.  For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."

(1 John 4:7-5:5)

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