1 John 4:13-18
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Fear has been a raging fire in our world for a long time and especially over the past year. We fear illness. We fear financial struggles. We fear political upheaval. We fear what others think about us. We fear what new turmoil tomorrow may bring. Fear, worry, stress and anxiety rule the day and flood our hearts. The more we listen to fear-mongering on the news, in social media and from those who seem to revel in the demise of our culture, the darker our world feels. How can we escape this unending cycle of bad news and fear?
This passage gives us three ways to overcome the fear. First, God has given us his Spirit, through whom we can grow in faith and confidence. Second, we are called to live like Jesus in how we honor God, how we treat other people and how we look at the world around us. Third, God invites us to live in love, which drives out fear. As love fills our hearts, fear gets squeezed out. When we set our hearts on loving God and loving our neighbors, we find that fear gets washed away, replaced by hope and joy. Not only does fear recede in our hearts, but we can also help others let go of the things that bring them anxiety. Love actually changes people. It makes the world better. It pushes back against the darkness and the hurt that have enslaved so many hearts.
When you hear words of fear, answer them with words of love. When you see people trapped by anxious thoughts, offer them the hope that spring from kindness. When you feel fear and worry rise in your own heart, turn back to the truth of God’s word and the encouragement we find as we “rely on the love God has for us.” Remember that God’s Spirit dwells within you to comfort and guide you. Remember that “perfect love drives out fear.”
Thank You, Jesus, for showing me perfect love. Help me to overcome my fears and worries. Remind me of Your unfailing love, and teach me to share Your love with others. I ask this in Your mighty name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian