Advent Series - LOVE
LOVE > HATE / FEAR
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
What is love? Is it an emotion? A feeling? Is it something than can be grasped or held? Or is love something more? I feel like love is a concept which has been talked about for eons and yet many people still ask questions. My goal isn’t to regurgitate what many have said but to offer a different perspective on how we see love. Jumping right into it, let’s take a look at 1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
From this we see that love is from God and God is love. He manifested His love for us through Jesus so we might live through Him. Because God loves us, and manifested His love in such a way as to reconcile us to Him, we no longer need to fear the future, death, or judgment day. Instead we should be longing for these things similarly to how the Apostle Paul did. Paul writes in Philippians “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Paul is a man who loves God and His people and has a deep rooted desire to be reunited with Christ. Paul also knows when the day does come, it will be a wonderful and glorious day. As he waited for that day to come, he did everything he could to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Often times hate is referred to the opposite of love, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. In fact, I think it’s only half right, because there are times where you can hate someone or something with all your being in which case hate is opposed to love. Other times you can say you hate someone or something but yet you still love the person or thing and the only reason you feel this way is because they hurt you in some way. In this scenario hate is not opposite of love.
1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love”. If there is no fear in love then it stands to reason that fear is the opposite of love, just as light is to dark and up is to down. They cannot coexist at the same time. You cannot have light and dark occupy the same space. You cannot travel up and down at once. You cannot have love and fear present at the same time. It’s just not possible.
Let’s put this into more practical terms. Say you are afraid of heights (like I am) and you let your friends convince you to ride the drop shot at an amusement park. You might enjoy they ride, or you might not, but the one thing which remains consistent is your fear of heights. But what if you go on the ride and your fear of heights is removed? Would you enjoy it more? Would you have a new found love for the ride? I think so. Fear is a crippling disease that preventing us from enjoying all life has to offer. It also prevents us from taking action and from speaking the truth. Fear involves torment, torment involves pain (physical and/or emotional).
In 1 John 4:9-11 we read, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Jesus was beaten, battered, and bruised within inches of His life. After suffering through this abuse, He died an ugly, gruesome, and painful death, not for anything He did, but for all of the things we have done and will ever do. He did this because He was love manifested, the word made flesh. He took the death, the pain, and the suffering we should have taken and replaced it with abundant life. If God loved us so much as to lay His life down for us, should we then not love one another in the same manner? To put others needs before our own? Paul thought this way even though he desired more than anything to be with God. He put his love for God’s people first, teaching them how to love and showing them how to live it out.
If we took a quick snap shot of your life right now are you living a life of love and putting others before yourself? Or are you so caught up in your world to even notice the people out there hurting because of the way you treat them and the words you say? Take time today to reflect on the trajectory of your life. Are there people who you have been neglecting in some capacity? Love isn’t always easy. Often times it’s hard, messy, and costs us more than what we want to give but in the end it’s worth everything we put into it. Jesus loved us so much as to die for us, surly we can sacrifice our comfort and dignity to trudge through the trenches to show someone they are loved.
Love is a choice. We can either choose to Live it out or Snuff it out. God is Love and Love chose us.
Will you choose Love?
1. During the Advent and Holiday season, it is easy to think about practical ways to show love to others. Consider using the generous spirit of the season to help you make a solid plan for showing love to others through the rest of the year. Make a once a month plan as an individual or as a family to show love to someone else in a practical, hands on, way.
2. Chris talks about Fear being the opposite of Love. Check out this 31 day Bible reading plan focusing on "No Fear."
3. Often times, conquering, or even just facing, a fear in day to day life can impact the fear's you have when it comes to one's emotional and spiritual life. What is one fear you have which you can face?
Chris Baugh serves as our Retreat Coordinator and Escape Room Creator at IOLBC. Previously he has served on both our summer staff and as a YMT.