Love that drives out fear

April 22, 2009

If you grew up in the church, you might’ve had some various interesting teachers and pastors throughout your years in youth group.  For me, I keep thinking about all the wrong things that I’ve learned, and how they have adversely affected my views on Christianity, how it has turned some of my peers away from the church.

One common tactic that some of my former teachers tried to use is the scare tactic.  Believe, or else you’ll go to hell.  Become holy, because once you get to heaven, God will expose all your sins and everyone will mock you.

Is that really what you think? Is that what your faith is based upon, this fear of being ridiculed? Then you have not entirely grasped the gospel – you have not remotely understood what glorious riches we are saved on to.  We will become entirely too self-forgetful when we see our Beloved, to even concern ourselves with our past.  Yes, all our sins that we hide even to ourselves will come to light; but that will be mere afterthought.  Love is primary; fear is secondary.  We have not yet understood the heart of the father who slaughters the fattest calf, who runs out to meet his prodigal son.  For only the unbeliever who has rejected the message of the cross has a reason for being fearful of the oncoming punishment.  The believer recognizes that his own failings are no grounds for God to reject him, for he knows that he was never accepted by living a good, righteous life, but by the grace of God.

Fear must by necessity come first.  For the conviction of sins lead to repentance.  But if fear is not driven out by love, then you are preaching an incomplete message.  You are teaching something that will lead to spiritual exhaustion, dejection, and falling out from the faith, or worse, a life of carefully hidden satisfactions in self-righteousness.

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