1 John 4:16-21
Fear is natural; part of God’s good creation. It warns us of danger, prompting us to take evasive or defensive action. But, like fire, it is a good servant, but a bad master. When it gains mastery over us, it can destroy us. It can prevent us from knowing the gracious love of God. It can make us to be obsessed with money, possessions and standing, with the hope that they can give us the security we lack. It can turn strangers into enemies resulting in suspicion, hatred and war. It can blind us to the plight of others so that we do nothing to help them. It can keep us tongue-tied in our witness for Christ lest it alienate us from our friends or family. What then is the answer to this destructive power of fear? Faith and love. Faith in Jesus, the Son of God who loves us with a generous and abundant love. Jesus said to Jairus, the synagogue leader who was afraid that he was about to lose his beloved daughter, “Do not fear, only believe.” Trust or faith is the answer to the tyranny of fear. Trust in the goodness and love of God. Faith and love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Love take us out of our preoccupation with ourselves and our fears so that we are concerned about the wellbeing of others, even those that might be seen to pose a threat to us. As God’s Spirit moves us to trust God and to love in God’s way of loving, we find the chains of tyrannical fear being loosened. Reverence that in the Bible is called fear of the Lord, a healthy fear, then has room to grow.
- Give examples of fears that are good and helpful.
- Give examples of fears that are damaging and hurtful.
- How is fear used by commercial, political or religious leaders?
- What is your experience of faith and love overcoming fear?