I JOHN 4:17-18: “God’s love has reached its goal in us. So we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment. While we are in this world, we are exactly like him ⌊with regard to love⌋. No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: September 11, 2001 is a day I will always remember. It is a day when life in America changed forever. Most of us watched in disbelief and horror as we saw the attack that killed over 3000 innocent people unfold. There was a collective sense of sorrow, grief, and fear. How could something like this happen in America? Where was our world headed? What would happen next?
The first Sunday after this horrific attack, churches were packed across this great land. We lived in San Antonio at that time, and we could not even get into the parking lot of the church we attended. We sadly had to turn back and go home. There were prayers for the victims who had survived, for the families and friends who had lost loved ones, for the first responders who risked and lost their lives in the ordeal, and for the safety of America and each person’s own family. It is safe to say that a cloud of fear prevailed after this event. A cloud that still exists to this present day.
I was traveling at that time on a weekly basis. I will never forget the first time I boarded a plane after 9/11. The new heightened security and screening, the sober attitude of the usually jovial Southwest pilots and stewards, and the collective sense of fear that permeated the airports. It was palpable. And in the 15 years that have transpired since that day, this cloud still remains. With every new terror attack, every new senseless killing, every new threat from those who neither fear God nor man, the fear of the unknown increases. Is there any hope?
For the believer there is both hope and freedom from fear. It is not found in personal resolve, or in personal preparation for the coming day of judgment. It is only found in the love of God! John boldly proclaims – “So we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment”. What a strange statement. Yet, John tells us how this is possible. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. We have been redeemed and declared sons and daughters of God by His perfect love. This love was expressed in the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, whatever happens – we are kept by His great love. If we die, we are with Him. If we live, we overcome this life’s challenges through Him. In Him we live, and move, and have our being! He is our confidence and strong assurance. His love is our freedom from fear!
While I pray for peace every day, while I endeavor to be a peacemaker in all situations, the presence of peace in the world is not the prerequisite for my peace. He is my peace! When I walk in the love of God my heart is transformed and it is continually assured. There is no act of terrorism, no cloud of fear, or anything in this world that can separate me from this great love – His great love! Paul put it eloquently in the book of Romans.
- “What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love? As Scripture says: “We are being killed all day long because of you. We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.” The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Romans 8:35-39 GW)
Lord, secure every believer on this day of rememberance, in Your great love! Let us run always in the direction of love – for Your perfect love truly does cast out all fear!
In Jesus Name!