Share the Love // Perfect Love drives out Fear…

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Fear isn’t a subject which gets much of a look in around Christmas, but for many of us, it’s there: Will everything be ready on time? Is it good enough? Will everyone get on? How will we manage to pay for it all? And then there are all the emotions that New Year’s Eve can bring….

Fear comes in many guises: anxiety over jobs, money, status; insecurity in our identity and relationships; fear of being alone; fear of illness and death; fear of future – whatever it may hold. It is foolish to deny or belittle fear, especially when it can seem so prevalent in the world around us, in our own lives and lives of others. But that’s exactly what we do – we try to laugh away our fear, supress it or simply pretend it’s not there. But it is.

If we’re not careful so much of how we behave can be driven by fear of what people will think of us, or what will happen in the future. Fear lies behind consumerism, we buy things not only because they are needed or nice, but to shore up our identity, to make us feel good and others respect or envy us. It also drives many of the other negative characteristics of our society today. It’s not just needing more money to buy more and more things that makes so many of us work so hard, for many that’s also driven by fear of job loss or being considered inadequate at work. And that’s before we get to the impact on fear on our attitudes to strangers, to immigration…

The Christian tradition teaches that perfect love drives out fear. That can specifically be wrong fear of God, a fear of punishment. When we come to understand that God is not a God of punishment – “you did this, you didn’t do that” – but first and foremost a God of love, then a wrong fear of God is corrected. May be that some of us need to hear that, or to hear it afresh today.

But is it also true more widely? Given all the fear we see in the world and in our own lives, how can we say perfect love drives out fear? Is it true?

The first thing to note is that this world is not perfect, yet. Christians believe that Jesus came, lived and died to put an end to sin and death, the things that cut us off from God and each other. But that has not happened, in its entirety, yet. There are very many good reasons to be afraid. But we can also look at the world and say, with confidence, “this is not how it was meant to be” and “this is not how it ends”. Love WILL drive out fear.

But is also useful to remember that love CAN drive out fear, and that can be our lived reality now. That’s not to make light of what can be a very difficult and painful area for many of us – our experience of love in this present world is not complete, and never perfect. But yet, even as I may feel as if I’m one of the most fearful people around, I can still remind myself that, as love is seen in me, it will drive out fear.

In every day there are actions we can take, to choose love and so to banish fear.Why not try to notice today when you are fearful, bring that fear to your attention, write it down. Then ask yourself, how can I seek love – from others, or for others – which can help to counter that fear. Is there an action I need to take to make that a reality?

 

Jane Perry. Thirty-something (just!) dreamer and conspirator. Mum to Jacob (7) and Tom (9), and wife to Will, in Lewes, East Sussex. Everything else, including theology, mission studies and social policy research, in my spare time.

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Who can YOU be?

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And there were Shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them “do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”.

Luke 2:8-10

 

When we are living our lives and everything seems to be ticking over, our work and family lives are just carrying on their day to day routine, we can often forget about God’s presence and then when he tries to get our attention it can be very scary. The Shepherds were just going about their daily routine when the Angel appeared to give them a message. God could give us a message through a friend who is suggesting we try something new, maybe a new job opportunity has arisen or we have a realisation that a relationship is no longer good for us. God has given us free will to make our own choices in life but he will always try to show us the best way forward because he loves us so much that he wants us to have Joy in our lives. The Angels were talking about the Good news of the birth of Christ. Through his life on earth Jesus Christ freed humanity from the things of this world that can bring us down because he showed that every person is loved by God and God wants them to be the best they can be and have joy in their lives.

My life changed dramatically when I lost my sight as a child, the future of being a nurse and caring for others which I had planned was now not going to be possible. But every day of my life, I know that Christ is walking next to me (as well as my guide dog) and because of that I don’t fear going out and being a part of this world. When I was 17 God sent me a message and that was that whatever my physical disability he wanted to use me to bring spiritual healing, joy and hope to those around me and he called me to be a priest. It took some 15 years for me to be able to grow in confidence but now at the age of 34 I am part way through my training. God has totally changed my life as he has taken my disability and used it to help me grow as a person and connect with those around me who are also going through difficult times.

I pray that you will today have courage and not be afraid of hearing Gods message for you. Don’t listen to the words of society that may not be able to see past your circumstances but listen to God through those around you who are there to encourage you and may you feel God’s love today and the rest of your life.

 

melissaMelissa Carter

Melissa is 34 years old, and has been registered blind since the age of 16. She works as a legal secretary,  is currently training to be a priest and has represented Great Britain at the Disabled World Archery Championships.

She has felt God’s presence in her life since the age of eight and he has supported her through the difficulty of becoming partially sighted. She says: ‘It is very scary trying to see yourself through God’s eyes, I used to be very shy and did not have much confidence which is why it took me 15 years between hearing God’s call for me to be a priest to me starting my training because I had to slowly catch up to see myself in the way that God does. He is happy to give us the time to grow but will always be there to support and encourage us along the way.’

 

Daily Share

Today please think about what your future could be and what you are afraid of, which may be stopping you from fulfilling your potential. Do you need to get training, more confidence, move area or change your friendships? Think about it, pray about it and find a friend to talk to about your hopes for your future as through support of others God will help you to grow into who he knows you can be.