Picture Credit: Nikolay Doychinova/ AFP
I am not sure I have ever carried so much burden in my body or experienced so much inadequacy with my words in my entire life. In many ways I feel like the very best I can do is join the collective groaning of creation, longing for things to be made right.
And I am sure many of you are in that place as well. No matter the differences we may have with one another, and there are many, we all long for things to be made right and we absolutely ache at the state of our world.
That is the very essence, the very foundation of our faith- in Christ we have hope that death does not have the final word on our lives. But rather, the life-giving and restorative love of God ultimately prevails in the end.
And it is this hopeful anticipation, of the way life will be one day, that should make our hearts beat out of our chests.
It is this hopeful anticipation, of the way life will be one day, that should make each of our days worth living right now.
But it is also this hopeful anticipation, of the way life will be one day, that should make such a profound effect on us that we can do nothing more than take part in that kind of life-giving and loving experience right now…. even when we are surrounded by evil, heartache, and pain.
But even more, it should be our greatest desire for others to share in that as well. So much so, that we would be willing to go to any length to share this life-giving and loving experience with others.
As Christians, we look forward to a time when death is no more and all things are made right and restored through Christ- our relationship with God, our relationships with one another, and our relationship with creation. And being that we have been given a foretaste of that “life to the fullest” presently, through the Holy Spirit, we not only want to live that way right now… we are willing to go to any length to share and invite others into this “life to the fullest” as well.
If you are having a hard time understanding what I am talking about, let me share a story and then a lesson from Scripture.
I got a phone call from my wife today and she told me one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. She received a message from a friend of ours, who used to live in our town, but who now lives in St. Louis. She recently asked her husband what gift he would like to receive from her for Christmas and without hesitation he replied “A Jenny Andress pie.”
There is no question that my wife makes the best pies in the world. But, on the “odd Christmas gift” scale, his answer was a ten out of ten. And to make this odd Christmas gift request even more bizarre, my friend has never had a “Jenny Andress pie” in his life! That’s right, when asked by his wife why he wanted a “Jenny Andress pie,” even though he had never tasted one before, he said, “Because Brandon always talks about how life-changing her pies are and I want one for myself.”
Please think about this.
By virtue of the way I described my own life-changing experience, it invited another person to long for that same life-changing experience.
But this statement is about so much more than a pie.
It’s about who we are to be presently as followers of Christ, what we have personally tasted and experienced, how it has changed our lives, and then how we share that life-changing experience with others.
The truth is that I have personally tasted and experienced the complete and perfect love of God and it has totally changed my life. And I can tell you that it is something so sweet and so overwhelming that it has completely changed my heart and opened my eyes.
This complete and perfect love from God has also completely driven out any and all fear that I used to have in my life.
Because that is what the complete and perfect love of God does- it drives out all fear.
I assure you that we did not arrive at this place by accident. For there is an epidemic of fear spreading throughout the United States among those who would call themselves Christians. And this writing is a very deliberate attempt to confront that culture of fear. It is an attempt to show all reasonable (and even all unreasonable) Christians that fear is absolutely not of God and that fear has absolutely no place in the life of one who follows Jesus.
The Scriptures say that, “There is no fear in love. Complete and perfect love turns fear out the doors and expels every trace of terror!”
So when we are completely and perfectly consumed by the love of God,
Fear is completely gone.
Fear has absolutely no hold or grip on our lives.
Fear is completely extinguished.
Fear has absolutely no room in the life of a person consumed by the complete and perfect love of God.
No matter the situation or circumstance.
And being a people consumed by love, rather than fear, matters.
Because as the world becomes more chaotic and is turned completely upside-down, those who are stricken in fear will see the fearless example of those who have been consumed by the complete and perfect love of God… and they will long it for as well.
For this love that consumes us, will never fear.
It is not afraid of governments.
It is not afraid of politicians or their laws.
It is not afraid of economic turmoil or collapse.
It is not afraid of illegal immigrants.
It is not afraid of any refugee from any part of the world.
It is not afraid of threats or scare tactics.
And it certainly is not afraid of one single terrorist.
Governments will make decisions based on their own interests. The media will sell a message even if it is misleading or is propaganda. Enemies will threaten violence from here to eternity. But we will never fear. No matter the situation or circumstance. Our only response is love.
For fear has no lasting residence within us. It is only the complete and perfect love of God that remains.
And this love is an immense ocean that swallows whole the tiniest speck of sand that is fear and death.
This love is a universe that consumes and overwhelms the microscopic atom of fear and death.
This love is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End that conquered fear and death once and for all at the cross of Calvary and proved it on Resurrection morning.
And this love transcends all things- politics, nationalities, groups, sects, tribes, tongues, races, sexual orientation, and any other construct that works to divide us.
This love transcends religion, denominationalism, doctrines, theological opinions, and everything else about religion that oppresses and works to divide people.
This love transcends our every issue, our every conflict, our every division, and answers sufficiently our every question and how we should respond to every situation and to every person.
And when you have experienced a love that immense, that overwhelming, you can do nothing but let it wash over you. You can do nothing but share that love with everyone. You have been changed at the very depths of your soul forever. And you so badly want to share that love with others that you would be willing to go to any length, even giving up your own life, for others to experience the complete and perfect love of God.
Father God, drive out our fear so that only your complete and perfect love remains. Let it consume us, let it pour over us, in such a mighty and profound way that the only response we have in the world is love, for your glory. Amen
Peace and love without any fear…