There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
I John 4:18
Aside from the latent contextual issues behind this statement, like audience relevance, etc., these words should give us pause, if not stir us to even greater action. The apostle Paul wrote this to the Christians in Rome, 'I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' ( Romans 8: 38 & 39 ). With this kind of Love, Love personified, we should be without fear, yet fear seems to lurk around every corner, even sometimes, for the most seasoned believer!
G. K. Chesterton wrote, 'Jesus promised his disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble', and while this may seem a quite absurd statement, it is quite true. Jesus did tell them, as we read above, from John's 1st letter that we should be fearless; He promised, in Matthew 6:33 that if we seek first His Kingdom, and His Righteousness, that 'all these things shall be added to you'. Reading the context of 'all', we can see that this 'all' includes 'all' things necessary for life, breath, and happiness. In John 16:33, we read where He said to them, 'In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' With the historical context, especially in mind, the apostle Peter confirmed His words, saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God'. These words are true and faithful! We urge you to be good Bereans and search out these matters for yourself, and when you find them to be true, implement them in your own lives, if they do not already rule your conversation.
When we're not completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble, then we're serving the wrong master!
Fear seems to lurk around every corner, there is much that happens in our everyday lives that we find it very difficult to be happy about, and damn it all, can't we have just ONE day go by without stirring up some kind of trouble?!
If you don't see a problem with this statement, then you're part of the problem! First of all, it only seems that fear lurks around every corner. A wise man once said, rightly, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. Fear, spine-tingling, numbing fear is all in our heads; we have no real cause for it, especially for the believer. If we fear, which we all do, we should wonder who we are serving. Please don't get me wrong; I am not saying that if one is ever afraid that one has not reached perfection in love! Just to clarify; even the strongest, most mature of Christians has moments of fear, but the point is, that fear should not rule his/her life!
Happy, happy, joy joy! It's all good, especially for the believer, but whether we want to admit it or not, it just doesn't feel like 'happy, happy, joy joy' all the time! Should we be happy all the time? You bet we should; living in God's Kingdom where everything happens for our good and His glory, where we are living in communion with our Creator, our Father, 24/7! What a blessed Life we have! Yet there are still things that happen in our blessed life that leave us feeling unhappy, even unfulfilled, empty, almost! And trouble; don't even get me started on trouble! Do you realize the kind of trouble one can get in just for thinking outside the box? Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah or one of the prophets must have felt! The Christian, though, is not being true to his faith if he, or she, is not stirring the pot. Many of those to whom we preach the Gospel ( using words if necessary ) are not going to appreciate our witness, and depending on their reaction; we may often be made to feel fear, we might be unhappy, or we may just give up in hopes of establishing peaceful relations.
Much, if not all of our problem lies in our self. We feel a certain emotion, and depending on how we react (or not ) to that emotion determines whether we live as we should! Not to say that emotions are necessarily a bad thing, but too often we allow our emotions ( fear, unhappiness, unrest ) to rule our lives. Even Christians have their moments when emotions seem to take over! Many others, though, those who do not have the peace of Christ have let emotions overrun their lives; they live by how they feel at any given moment. These serve their own wants and lusts, and this is why fear, unhappiness and unrest have taken over their lives.
The Christian, however, if he is truly following Christ's example, will exhibit fearlessness, true happiness, and will always be at peace, though he always seems to be in hot water with somebody. The true Christian will not be overruled by his affections, or emotions, because he does not serve himself. Rather, he serves his Lord, Christ, and His Body, which is the Church, not any institutionalized organism, but those who belong to Christ.
It all comes down, then, to the question, 'whom do you serve?'
Will you serve our God and Father, and be fearless and happy, even in the midst of tribulation; or will you serve yourself, and remain subject to the emotions of fear, unhappiness, and unrest?!
The choice is yours; choose wisely!
Charles Haddon Shank