Fear will leave you hiding in the dark
But love will bring a light into your heart
So do not be afraid, do not be afraid
I’ve got to imagine that Jesus experienced some fear in the garden of Gethsemane. I’ve got to imagine that, along with the sorrow, He experienced fear. But, if I’m going to guess, He knew what He was called to do and loved us enough to go through it. After all, God so loved the world.
The idea of fear being easy and love being hard has been on my mind a lot the last 12-14 hours or so. There’s a Jason Gray song with that title and I feel like it captures the idea very well.
“Fear will leave you hiding in the dark.”
The dictionary definition of fear: “An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Fear is easy because it usually doesn’t require a lot of thought. All it takes is simply seeing a situation and rushing to a snap decision to be afraid. That’s easy. We do it all the time. And we hide.
Also, there are a lot of things to fear in this world. We can be afraid of God, others, the world, technology, the government, members of the opposite gender, even ourselves. Potential objects of fear stand around every corner, both in the world and in our hearts. There are times I’m afraid of what I think and the sin I commit.
“Love will bring a light into your heart.”
Love: “An intense feeling of deep affection; a great interest and pleasure in something.” Love is hard because it takes work and concentration and effort. There can sometimes be that intense feeling, but it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes love must exist in the absence of feeling. And that’s the hardest part.
There are very few things that we can confidently love in this world, very few things we are even encouraged to love. Even “loving” a sports team, something so trivial in the bigger picture, can be incredibly difficult when they can’t score to save a life (I’m looking at you sometimes, Arsenal). It can even be hard to love Jesus, who is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
The beautiful thing about fear and love is that we can look at God’s example of those things toward us.
Romans 8 tells us that nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39). We can find hope, joy and rest in that outworking of the Gospel. He loves us no matter what kind of mess we are or get ourselves into. Jason Gray again, in the song “Jesus We Are Grateful” – “You are right to judge my sinful heart/but Your glory is Your mercy/for You condescend to make a friend/of an enemy like me.” He does not fear us, but loves us.
And we can learn more about love in 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” For God, love is nature because He is love. He is so dominated by love that fear never enters the equation at all.
And now we get to us. We can only love others when we begin to understand God’s love for us – “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God’s love for us does two things. First, it makes us equipped to love. He gives us the Holy Spirit out of His love for us. We would be incapable of loving unless God, through the Holy Spirit, working in our hearts to change us. Second, it teaches us what love looks like so we can work it out. God’s love becomes the example for how we should love others. 1 John 4:10 says that love is defined by how God loved us – sending Christ to die for us. So we learn how to love by looking at how God loves us.
Last part. God’s love brings a light to our heart. It kicks out the dark that fear insists on.
God’s love crushes the shame and guilt we carry because of our sin because God’s love put that on Jesus at the cross.
God’s love crushes the fear of the unknown because God’s love says He’ll work all things together for our good.
God’s love crushes the fear of making a mistake because God’s love says that, even if we make a million mistakes, He still loves us.
“So do not be afraid, do not be afraid.”