Jan 13, 2014, 9:36 AM
One of the words most commonly used in everyday language is the word ‘love’. Bandied so often, true love has i essence since lost its savour; and has become totally devalued and bland. Yet under no circumstances could love be equated to fear. Love is a language the whole world speaks without the need for an interpreter. It has a worldwide reach and cannot be mistaken for fear.
John, the apostle is saying there is no confusing the two; they don’t dwell in the same house. One has to give way to the other or else they will be stepping on each others toes. You cannot say you love someone and fear him. You cannot fear someone and still love her. One emotion eliminates and completely wipes out the other; they become mutually exclusive.
If the relationship that we have knit is genuine, it has to feed on love not on fear. For true love banishes fear. In a family setting, the parents are supposed to be the epitome of love for their children but there are times when they would have to punish them as part of their upbringing. Does that mean they do not love them? No! When you love, you reprimand and chastise. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” (Proverbs 23:13-14) You do this because you love the child. Fear however will set in when that punishment takes on an abusive tone or is unfounded. A local adage renders it thus: ‘Whilst mother hen will step on her chicks she does not dislike them, nor hates them.’
God, our Maker, loves us with an everlasting love and this from the beginning. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11)“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving in all he has made.” (Psalm 145:17) Perfect love expresses itself in this form. It is all embracing.
Our God is a loving God. In fact, He is Himself love. In the parable of the Prodigal son, the father constantly looked out for his son who had strayed away; confident he would retrace his steps and come home. We read that on his return journey, “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son and threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) This is a vivid example of the God-kind of love.
God’s unfailing love beats human understanding. It is a love we have not merited, yet God gave His Son to die for us on the cross, to settle a debt we cannot pay and to set us free from the shackles of sin. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “Greater love has no one than this, that he (Jesus) lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
It is a love relationship that we are living with God on this earth that will continue in heaven.
Our love should be reciprocal for this love relationship to last. We cannot be indifferent to such love; it is a love that compels us to live in love. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God took the first steps in this relationship at the creation. His love for us will endure forever because that is what He knows to do. It is His nature to love despite our stubborn attitude and disobedience towards Him and His Word, Jesus.
Expressions of God’s love take centre stage in His Word, the Bible. The fact that He sent His Son to save humanity from the penalty of sin constitutes a clear testimony of His love for His creation, His ‘prized possession.’
Our Lord Jesus did not love us in return because we have come to love and identify with Him as souls that have been saved. He abounds in love. As he prayed for the world to the Father, prior to His crucifixion he uttered these words: “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself will be in them.” (John 17:26)
God’s love empowers us and gives us a reason to live. It is the perfect kind of love which sacrifices self for others. “God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He has lavished so much love on us to call us His children. (1 John 3:1) Why harbour multiple fears in our hearts? – the fear of unworthiness, the fear of guilt and failure, and the fear of death?
This fear is unworthy of our status as children of God. Paul declares; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-38)
Let us bask in His perfect love and live a life of plenitude in Christ Jesus. Amen!