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The fearlessness of love

What is love? How do I know that I love others as I am supposed to? Is it possible to love others and not like them?  How do I grow in love? These are just some of the many questions we all have about love. They are also questions that early followers of Jesus had. The first letter of 1 John was written to answer some of these questions. Here is how John expressed one of his answers: 
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. [1 JOHN 4:16-18]
The Bible teaches us that history of the world is linear, with God standing at the end of the line as our final Judge. Just as you did not choose when you were born, you will not choose when you start the final leg of your journey into eternity! Why will God judge the world? Because he must punish all who have rejected His love and continue to cling to sin.

On Judgement Day, all those who have refused to accept Jesus will suffer eternal torment beyond imagination. We think of the most terrible tragedies we have witnessed in the world over the last few months, Hell will be infinitely worse! We should be absolutely clear that anyone who dies today without Jesus is already judged and enters eternity in Hell on remand as they await their final sentence in Hell forever! 

We should also be clear that all human beings will be judged, including all followers of Jesus, as Paul makes clear to the church at Corinth. The key difference between followers of Jesus and those that have rejected Jesus  is that for all true followers of Jesus, the day of judgement will be our welcome home party.

I wonder, how do you feel when you read such words? How do you feel about the prospect of appearing before the judgement seat of Christ, to stand before His throne? If you know who God is, you are certainly not feeling indifferent. You know standing before God is not just another day in court. What I hope you are feeling is excitement. The prospect of meeting God as Judge should fill you with excitement because if you  belong to Jesus you have reason to be confident that you truly belong to God the Judge of all mankind.

John’s concern is that some of us feel the opposite emotion. The prospect of facing God makes us fearful.Human beings are full of fear. The original word for fear in the Bible is phobia. If you search online you will find hundreds of phobias people have. I recently discovered that that some people have a fear of being in church. It has been termed ecclesiophobia. John is concerned by a fear some call krisisphobia - the fear of facing God on judgement day!

John recognises that followers of Jesus may lack assurance that they belong to God. We know that God is real and that He is holy and powerful. Sometimes that worries us because we know that we let God down so many times and we wonder whether we belong to him at all! When we look at how we lives and compare them to the standard of the Bible, we worry that perhaps we are not born again at all. This lack of confidence that we genuinely belong to God and that we may have to face God can live us paralyzed and feeling empty.

An academic study undertaken in 2004 asked 100 students whether the love they received from their parents seemed to depend on whether they had succeeded in school. It turned out that children who felt they received such conditional love still did as their parents wanted. But their obedience increased the resentment and dislike of their parents. Also, their happiness after succeeding in school was usually short-lived and often led to feelings of being ashamed.

What is true in our human relationships is also true in spiritual life. If we are not confident that we are loved by God we may outwardly do many things for God, but inside we grow distant from him. Slowly our fear of judgement will move us to “works based” relationship with God rather than the grace found in the Jesus! As Adrian Rodgers says, “trying to live as Christians without full and absolute confidence in God is like driving a car with the brakes on”.

So how should we respond to our fear of facing God on judgement day? Not by pretending we don’t have fears. John assumes we do! What we need to do is to put them to bed by exposing them before the evidence of God’s love in our lives. The awesome truth of 1 John is that God is love and this God of love has taken permanent residence within the walls of our hearts. So, the way for us to confront our fears and doubts is to look at the evidence of the love of God being made visible in our lives.

The word “perfected” means “complete” or “maturity”. John is saying as God’s love matures in us, it transforms us from inside out. How can we tell whether we are maturing as a Christian? John is saying spiritual growth is growing in loving God and His people. Your spiritual maturity is not measured by your age, how long you have been a Christian, or have been a member of a certain church. It is not even measured by your Bible knowledge or the level of your  giving. It is measured by the growth of your love. If you are growing in loving God and loving others then you have no reason to fear the day of judgement. No one is perfect in love. But as we live for God we become more like our Father in our love because as He is so we are.

Maybe you are in that season where you worry about death and judgement. The question you need to ask yourself is this: are you growing in loving God and his people? Is there more and more evidence that you are longing to know and obey God? Is your love increasingly practical, willing, sacrificial and never asks anything in return? Can you see a growth trend upwards?

If your answers to these question are yes, then you have no reason to fear judgement day. Be confident and fearless that you belong to God! If you do not see evidence then it may be that you do not belong to Jesus. So, repent now and truly accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour!


Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

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