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Perfect Love.

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I’ve written before about fear. There is lots of it going around…touching each of us in some form.

  • Fear of catching the Covid-19 virus…of getting very sick…of dying from it... or having a loved one die from it.
  • Fear of the other political side…socialists! Reality deniers! Fake news! Alternative Facts.
  • Fear of economic turmoil
  • Fear of government overreach…or the consequences of a lack of government action
  • Fear of foreigners…people with different languages, customs, skin color
  • Fear of change…technology…traditions

You can probably come up with some other fears to add to the list. Fear is probably the most common emotion mentioned in the Bible. There are enough “fear nots!” to offer one for every day of the year (365 or so). 

Our basic human reaction to fear sends us deep into our brain…to the limbic system. It’s the center of our fight or flight response. Fear and the stress connected to it reduces our thinking to more simple terms: safe/dangerous, either/or, right/wrong.

Jesus encountered this thinking. Clean/unclean! Faithful/blasphemer! He was such a threat that they killed him rather than think in different terms. He spoke in terms of unconditional love, of valuing even those we don’t personally like, of welcoming the outsider. He challenged them to “think outside the box.” Unfortunately, their fear of Roman oppression, of change, of other tribes and nations (e.g., non-Jews) led them to kill him. But on Easter he got the last word. Love won. And it conquers every fear.

Consider I John 4:18—" There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Perfect love is found in the God who created our world and who came in the man Jesus to model that love. When perfect love is active we look at others and don’t see a Republican or Democrat or even an American. We see a child of God for whom Jesus died, a brother or sister who has eternal value. Perfect love comes to us each day as we connect with the Holy Spirit. Perfect love takes hold when we rest in God’s “everlasting arms”* and extend that embrace to others.

Yes, fear is certainly a reality of life. But we know a Love which conquers it. In this tense time I pray that each of us will experience that Love and let it reign over all the fears that plague us.

– Rolf Olson, Visitation Pastor

Prayer

God of perfect love, I confess my fears and anxiety about the world around me. It is difficult to detach from the pressures swirling around me and tugging at me. Fill me with your love. Help me to see beyond simple either/or judgments. Help me to see as you see: eternally, lovingly, positively. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

*Deuteronomy 33:27: The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.