Summary: In this message, part 2 in series The Company We Keep, we learn that the biggest need in human life is to learn to live in the love of God.
Your Deepest Need
The Company We Keep, prt. 2
Wildwind Community Church
May 9, 2009
1 Jn 4:17-18 (The Message)
17God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. 18There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
Some psychologists believe that there really are only two primary emotions – fear and love. The idea is that all negative emotions (anger, depression, jealousy, etc.) stem from fear, and all positive emotions (peace, joy, enthusiasm, etc.) stem from love. Do you buy that? After really thinking deeply about this lately, I buy it completely, and if you don’t see it I hope you’ll do the mental work that is required for it to become clear.
How do you define love? Love is a commitment to the well-being of another person. That’s love. When you love someone, you want good things for them. When you want good things for someone, you are loving them. We know God is love. And God, who is love, says:
Je 29:11 (NIV)
11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God loves us, and therefore he desires our good. He wants to prosper us, not harm us. He wants to give us hope and a future. That is what love does, right moms?
I think very few people in this room believe that God is love. Most have probably professed it. Some have taught it to others. But most of us don’t believe it. Because when you really believe something, it affects your emotions and what happens in your body and your decisions. If you believed a man with a gun was about to come forward tonight and open fire, you would be sitting there in a very different condition than you are in right now – if you’d even be sitting there at all.
If I deeply believed that God is love – deeply believed that God desires my well-being, wants what’s best for me, intends good things for me, and will redeem everything in my life for good, no matter how terrible it might seem, I would live my life free from fear. Completely. I would not fear what others might do to me physically. I would not fear for my reputation. I would not worry about getting older. As I worked on a project at home that was going poorly, I would not take it personally and feel incompetent because I would know God loved me completely and there was no reason to fear being diminished in his eyes. If I really, truly, deeply, fundamentally trusted in God and in God’s perfect love, I would simply not be capable of responding in fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.
Job 5:20 & 26 (The Message)
20“In famine, he’ll keep you from starving, in war, from being gutted by the sword…26You’ll arrive at your grave ripe with many good years, like sheaves of golden grain at harvest.
We read this and immediately start looking for exceptions. We say, “What about Christ-followers who ARE gutted by the sword, or those who do not live long lives?” Where does this question come from? My friends, it comes from fear. We see those (fairly rare) cases and we automatically think, “Isn’t that evidence that God doesn’t love me, isn’t looking out for my good, and doesn’t intend to protect me? Isn’t it evidence that, at least in the case of those who experienced these terrible things, that he did not love THEM?”
When it comes to God’s love, we just can’t stop twitching. We want to believe it, yet we look around at a world permeated by evil and we ultimately find it extremely difficult to believe (to experience in our bones) that God is good, that he loves us, and that we are safe in him. See, if we believed deeply that God was good, we would understand that even in those moments when we are under attack, when violence is done to us, when horrible things happen, God is good. Indeed many of us have never settled the question of whether or not God is good. And if you don’t believe God is good, then you can’t believe God really loves you. And if you can’t believe God really loves you, then you will live all of your life feeling like you must fend for yourself -- that in the final analysis, you must look out for #1 and get yours. And your life will be riddled with the fear that naturally comes with this belief, as you strike out against all people and situations that keep you from getting what you believe is coming to you, or cower from all people and situations that might threaten you. Either way, you will live as a slave to fear.