Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Perfect Love

1 John 4:18 (New International Version, ©2010)

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Fear is a great motivator, but it is not a saving one. Fear can generate many things, but it cannot generate the gospel’s core: love. First John 4:18 is not engaging in sophistry when it says, “There is no fear in love.” It is telling the truth about Christian discipleship. It is telling the truth to purveyors and provocateurs of fear, whether inside or outside the church. Fear relies on the threat of death in relationship, spirit, or body. The gospel of Jesus Christ relies on fear’s nullification: God’s gracious promise of life.

~ John Indermark
Do Not Live Afraid

From page 11 of Do Not Live Afraid: Faith in a Fearful World by John Indermark. Copyright & copy; 2009 by John Indermark. All rights reserved.

The above was my Monday email devotional from the Upper Room Daily Reflections.
I've been in churches where the basic theme has been, 'scare the hell out of them, and get them saved'.  This is merely 'fire insurance' and more often than not, you will see no actual growth or spiritual development in either the church or the person who made a profession out of fear. 
I've experienced comments from the leadership of said churches that sounds something like this:

"We had 203 decisions for the Lord this past year and 75 new members."
I ask, "Where are they now?"
Have we loved them?  Have we discipled them? Have we helped to lead and guide them into a greater and deeper relationship with the Lord?  Or have we then taken this new convert and overwhelmed them with even more guilt, fear and/or placed them in a position of leadership and basically set them up for failure?  Then we may wonder what happened to them when they quit coming to church.
People are not perfect. Church leadership is not perfect.  The only perfection that exists is love ~ the perfect love as expressed and manifested through Christ Jesus.  I don't wish to have statistics handed to me in the form of an Annual Report.  I wish to see lives changed through the power of Christian love.
I don't think we should "GO" to church.  I think we should "BE" the church. What are your thoughts?
And so I pray:  
Abba, Father... help me to focus on the Christ and not those seated in the pews.  Allow me to feel the very presence of You while I sit in the pew or even in my car while driving to work.  Fill me with Your Spirit and allow me to discern those to whom I may minister encouragement to.  Even so, my Lord ~Amen!


  1. I am grateful to be a Lutheran Tamara as we don't believe in preaching fire and brimstone. Fear is not our belief but knowing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins is. We focus on helping people to understand that this belief is all that one needs to acquire true Faith and with true Faith we can do anything.
    Not to say that we aren't human and don't ever feel fear, quite the contrary. But when we do, we pray and know that our belief and Faith is what will see us through. Blessings and prayers are sent your way!
    Love Di ♥

  2. Tamara... "We" are the church...Christ's Bride. He deserves our praise and worship for all things. The greatest obstacles the non-believer has before him/her (in my opinion) are the so-called Christians who hurt the name of our Lord. It must pain and grieve Jesus so much...yet He continues to be patient and wait....
    The word 'Christian' is literally "Little Christ"....and those who disparage Him...who bring shame on Him...who deny Him are not of Him.
    My prayer is that we will actually live up to our name: Christian. I pray that as we are going, we will love as Christ loves, will witness and help and above all share the love of Jesus Christ our Savior. But, we also must be mindful that there are those who are working in direct opposition to Christ...and those who do not recieve and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ will face an eternity without Him, and the Bible is clear that that place is Hell. There is no other way to say it....we cannot change His Word. We must work diligently to bring the plan of salvation to as many as we can. We cannot depend on "the preachers" to do that....we cannot depend on anyone else... As believers, that is OUR commission...given to us by our Lord.
    So much damage has been done by those who claim to be Christians....yet who are not. The world needs to see and feel Christ in us.
    Thank you so much for your devotional page, Tamara.
    I love you, my dear friend.

  3. Gandhi reportedly said, “Christianity would be wonderful… if it weren’t for the Christians.” Or something similar to that.

    It's been awhile now, but I returned to my "roots" and am attending a United Methodist church. I feel love and I feel grace here.

    Thanks for your comments, HUGZ ♥


  4. My only concern is that in trying to "balance" the fear factor, we swing to the other extreme. I'm saddened by so many who no longer GO to church. BEING the church does NOT elminate GOING to church, in my opinion.

    BEING the church includes GOING to church. GOING to church does NOT equate to BEING the church, however.

  5. AMEN to that Rebecca! In all honesty, somedays I am the CHURCH better than other. The church building is where I worship and try to draw closer to HIM who loves my soul.

    It frightens me to think that unbelievers may base their opinion of Christ on me and my actions. ALAS!


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