To Follow Jesus
My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’
Text set for today’s reading and meditation:
1 John 4:7-21 (NIV-UK): “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
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 Saviour 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.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
The above verses from John’s first letter, have been for me over the years, a firm anchor, which I’ve held onto when violent storms were raging overhead. They are fantastic.
Selwyn continues to discuss the issue of fear, in today’s study, these are the parts I like: “No one lived a life so completely free of every fear as did Jesus, the Christ. When we look at His life we see Him demonstrating the truth of today’s text: perfect love casts out all fear.
We should never forget that Jesus lived in our world and one of the reasons God became flesh was that we could learn what God is like and how to live the life of God on earth.
Jesus taught His disciple that fear (properly understood) for rebellious, sinful people has only one object – God.”
The word fear is used in a number of different ways throughout Scripture. The Hebrew word for fear, covers a range of meanings; from the emotion that is felt when we are scared of someone or something, and we exhibit a ‘flight or fight’ response. In regard to God, the word we use in English – ‘fear‘ – is better translated as the ‘reverential awe we experience when we see God as the all-powerful Creator of all that is seen and unseen’.
In Proverbs 1:7, we read: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ I don’t think it’s accidental that the Hebrew word for ‘to see‘, has a similar spelling to the Hebrew word for ‘fear‘. To understand, or to see, that we are the created, and God is the Creator, is the beginning of wisdom. It’s interesting that words like overwhelming awe are not found to any significant extent in the book of Proverbs, but the Hebrew word for ‘fear‘ is commonly used.
Now to the reference that Selwyn uses from Luke 12.
Luke 12: 4-7 (NIVUK): “‘I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
These verses show why it’s so important to read Scripture in context. ‘Mankind’, in their fallen sinful state should fear God; that is, they – if they could see who God is – would be petrified with fear, to be in His presence. But we, are told – ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Why? Because we have been saved, through Jesus’ death on the cross – if we believe, our fate is not hell. Fear has to do with punishment.
Selwyn concludes his study as follows: “One of Jesus’ favourite phrases was ‘Fear not’. How was it that He was so free of fear? Because of His complete confidence in His Father who was, and is, on the throne, and knowledge that all His purposes were wise and good.
Assured of this His mind has no dark places in which fear could hide. May our minds become more like His.”
This is an important topic – too many people have a limited view of what it means to ‘fear‘ Our Lord. We, who follow Jesus, do not have a relationship with Him built on a type of fear that would cause us to be too scared to approach Him. That’s unthinkable!
As John states in today’s reading: ‘This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.’ We, who are His children, will not fear the day of judgment. Can this truth be any clearer?