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“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

1 John 4:18

Fear will keep you from love and love will keep you from fear. It is possible to get conformity of behavior based on fear – at least for a period of time. Every dog owner knows this. Every parent of young children knows this. Law enforcement officers know this, to a degree.

But fear is not the primary way God wants to relate to his children.

Sometimes it is funny what fear makes a full-grown man do.

A few years ago, I had spent an afternoon shopping for my grandson’s birthday gifts which lay in the back of my Jeep. My mind was on auto drive thinking about different people in my church as I was singing loud to a Bruce Hornsby song on the radio.

Then I heard a distant siren from somewhere behind me and a muted public address voice with all the authority that comes with someone who carries a badge and a gun, “Halt! Where do you think you are going?”

I looked into all of my mirrors, straining to get a glimpse of the flashing red and blue lights of the police officer that was yelling at me. I looked and he was not ahead of me, not behind me, not beside me yet the siren was still there and the voice from One Adam Twelve was still hollering at me.

I was getting more and more afraid, so I began to pull over and wondered what I might have done to irritate the officer so much that he must yell at me over the PA system and turn his siren on but without flashing emergency lights.

Did I run a red light? Was I speeding? Did I change lanes inappropriately? Did he think I fit the description of a mass murderer or terrorist? Maybe he thought I was an Oakland Raider fan. What could I have possibly done to incur such wrath when the only thing I had been doing for the last hour was to purchase – not contraband – but toys for my grandson?

That badge and gun have gone to this guy’s head, I said to myself. Then the siren went off again and the voice on the PA system from somewhere behind me says, “To infinity and beyond!”

The tumblers in my brain all began to click in recognition. Buzz Lightyear had fallen over in the backseat and activated his button and he had been cycling through all his lines from the movie Toy Story.

I remember saying, “That is funny right there, Joe. You crossed two lanes of traffic and were about to put your hands on the hood of your Jeep and get spread-eagle for a – toy.” What motivated me to change that many lanes of traffic? Fear.

Relating to God based primarily on fear is not the way God desires for us to function.

There is an obscure British film from the ‘90s called Cold Comfort Farm. One of the characters, played by Ian McLellan (Gandalf), is a preacher for a strange sect called “The Church of the Quivering Brethren.” And they’re so called because when the Word is preached to them, their only response is to quiver. There’s a scene in the church and the sermon is all about Hell. There’s no good news to it – just about how badly people will be burned in Hell. And they just sit there and quiver.

At one point the preacher shouts out how if you burn your hand in the kitchen what do you do? You put butter on it to soothe the pain, he says. Well, there ain’t no butter in Hell! And they herk and jerk and quiver.

Because we have been lavishly loved by God, the old Apostle reminds us, those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

But what if I am not loved back? Jesus might have wondered that very thing. But do you remember what His Father said to him at his baptism? The Heavenly Father said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:11

Jesus needed to hear those words and He needed to remember them over the next 3 and a half years of ups, downs, outs, attacks, misunderstandings and all the subversive things done to discredit His ministry.

You are the son of the devil, they would say.

No, I’m the beloved of God, He would remember.

You are a drunkard and a sinner, they would say.

No, I’m the beloved of God, He would remember.

You are a bastard child, they would say.

No, I am the beloved of God, He would remember.

You are a lawbreaker, they would say.

No, I am the beloved of God, He would remember.

Get down off the cross, if you are the Son of God, they would scream.

No, I am the beloved of God, He would remember.

And because of that voice of affirmation, Jesus was not afraid of people. And so, He was able to love them.

The same Spirit that descended upon Jesus at His baptism now resides inside of you – that means you have nothing to fear. You can love the unlovable – just like He did when He loved you.

Joe Chambers is the pastor of Mountain Heights Baptist Church and can be reached at 425-446-1596.

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