“So we have come to know and to believe the love God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 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.”
LOVE > FEAR
Fear. It’s not exactly a word we associate with Christmas. And yet, when a newborn boy was placed in a manger some two thousand years ago this word was certainly part of the narrative. For Heaven’s Son had come to Earth—our Eternal King wrapped in human flesh—to deliver the antidote to fear: ove. And He wrapped and prepared it as the greatest gift of all: salvation.
John’s words in this passage show us that there are two ways we can live: in confident assurance of our salvation through Christ or in fearful uncertainty, driven by a belief that we have to make our own way back to Him. Truthfully, many of us fall into the latter, tricked into thinking that our efforts and our achievements earn us a place in His love. Fear is like that, it sneaks up on us—like those extra pounds we don’t realize we’ve accumulated until we try to get into our favorite jeans. It’s subtle, it’s insidious, and it convinces us we have to do more, or be more, or try harder.
Well, news flash: fear is a liar. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s love, nothing we can do to prove we’re worthy of it. He doesn’t expect that of us. He knows we are but dust. That’s why He did it all for us. Jesus’ gift to us is that we are able to know and believe in His love for us, as demonstrated through the cross. Able to stand firm knowing that “nothing—neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation—can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).
At the crux of it, either His love is overtaking our fear, or our fear is overtaking His love. This Advent season, let’s choose to receive and open the great gift of love given to us through Jesus. It’s already ours. Let’s trust that we have taken up permanent residence in a life of Love. Let’s gather our broken pieces and lay them at the feet of our Savior, knowing we are loved with a love so powerful and consistent it will change and shape us for our good and His glory. He has loved us back to life. Fear not.