Fear and love

I volunteered this week on the worship team for a youth camp hosted by a church that some good friends of mine go to (Redeemer Community Church, Oswego, IL). Last night was the last night of the camp. The topical focus of the week was how we look at our emotions in the light of faith in Christ. Pastor Josh Anderson from Redeemer shared a thought last night that struck me. He said that when our lives are dominated by fear of others–whether or not they will accept us, what they will think of us, and so forth, it’s impossible for us to really love others. There is, I think, a measure of truth in the saying that you can’t love others until you learn to love yourself. I would rephrase that to say that you can’t love others until you learn to see yourself in terms of God’s love for you.

I think it’s also true that we can’t love God until we learn to see ourselves in terms of God’s love for us. Not JUST because His love for us is the reason we love Him. Because that’s not the only reason. We’re called to love God because God is good and just and holy, because He wields His infinite power with perfect integrity of character. We’re called to love God for the glory of His infinite creativity which is the source of all good things. But we are unable to love Him unless we are established in a secure relationship of love with Him through what He has done because if we do not have that kind of relationship with Him, He is a threat. He is good, and we are not. He is holy, and we are impure. He is also all-powerful, and He is so perfect that nothing impure can stand in His sight. If we really understand who He is we will be too busy protecting ourselves to worship Him. Which is why we need Jesus, the perfect lamb who was destroyed and brought back from destruction for us. We can’t grow in knowing and understanding God and bearing fruit for Him until we have learned to simply rest in Jesus.

If we can get our hearts and minds around the fact that the most infinitely terrifying being of all loves us beyond description and has sacrificed Himself for us to give us the victory against everything evil and destructive inside and outside of us, we will know what courage is. It’s like taking shelter in the eye of the storm. It’s the safest place of all. Nobody is gonna get to you there. That’s what Proverbs 14:26 means when it says that there is STRONG CONFIDENCE in the fear of the Lord. So long as I am securely in Christ by faith, the more that I learn to appreciate and become aware of God’s infinite, immanent, terrifying power, the less I will fear. Fearing God is about understanding that He is the only thing that you should really be scared of. Trusting Christ is understanding that He has taken away all reason for you to be scared. Even when God corrects us, it’s in love, to get our attention about the seriousness of sin and to help us understand how passionate He is for our holiness. It’s not to inspire dread in us; that would destroy the very relationship He is trying to create by grace in Jesus Christ.

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