Saturday, May 05, 2012

No fear

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 John 4:1-21

TO CHEW ON: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.

I recently saw an hour-long video montage of the Japanese tsunami of March 2011. Most of the video clips were home movies, shot by people as they experienced the event. Angles were odd. Scenes were shaky. Sounds—crashes, water gushing, screams, crying—were heart-rending. Reading this passage I ask myself, how does God's love encompass such incidents? How could someone who had been through that not live forever traumatized and fearful that something similar would happen again?

When it comes down to it, though, each of us faces our own library of fears. We have seen loved ones suffer with cancer. We have walked with friends going through separation and divorce. We have wept with parents who have said a final goodbye to a child. For in some degree bad stuff, fearful stuff has touched each one of our lives. How can we say with conviction "There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear" if the God we believe has all power allows these things to come our way?

It has everything to do, I believe, with the goodness of God and our belief, trust and unswerving conviction that He is good. And that "All things work together for the good of those who love Him" - Romans 8:28 NLT.

The presence or absence of fear on our part has to do too, with our view of what is good for us. Is the agony that a drug addict has to go through in order to get clean, good? At the moment she is in it, I'm sure she'd say no. But later, when she's no longer in drug's clutch our once-slave to heroin will say, it was worth it to get out of that bondage.

It's not for me or you to rationalize how each apparently bad thing that touches a life, our lives, could work out for some good. I know that I would never intentionally go through any trial, no matter how good it was supposed to be for me. But I believe that the trials God allows into my life have all been sifted through His good hands, and will achieve a good purpose in my life if I let them. And thus I really do have no cause to fear.

As my Bible's "Truth-In-Action" commentary sums it up so well:

"By faith we receive the love of God in Jesus Christ. Stand against fear, knowing that perfect love casts out fear." Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action Through 1 John," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1791.

PRAYER: Dear God,  it is easy to glibly say there is no need to fear because of Your love when things are going well. Help me to believe the truth of Your sovereignty, goodness, and love when things don't seem to be going well, and to the extent that I really have no fear. Amen.

MORE: Some definitions.

  • "Omnipotence (Power, Sovereignty). God's omnipotence means that God is able to do all his holy will. The word omnipotence is derived from two Latin words, omni, "all," and potions, "powerful," and means "all powerful .... God's omnipotence has reference to his own power to do what he decides to do.
  • Goodness. The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God does is and does is worthy of approval.
  • Love. God's love means that God eternally gives of himself to others.
This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others. This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others."
—definitions by Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pages 216, 197, 199.

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