This year’s theme is God first. We’ve been talking about God and you–developing a deeper relationship with God. John says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 ESV). God loved us enough to send his only son for us. Therefore, John concludes, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (vs. 11).
We have confidence that God remains in us because he gives us his Spirit. Furthermore, “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (vs. 15). This gives us absolute confidence for the day of judgment and we know that we will spend eternity with God.
John concludes, “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” (vs. 18). If we’ve really been perfected in love, Christians should have no fear of death or judgment. This gives us peace of mind and courage to teach others, knowing that we are secure with God.
We’ve spent the past few weeks discussing Jesus’ method for recruiting, training, and sending his twelve apostles, as well as additional disciples. Jesus went through this entire process very quickly. He didn’t drag his feet or string the disciples along. Instead, he called them to immediately and completely follow him, he warned them of impending persecution, and then sent them out among the wolves.
Then, as he sent them out, he said, “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim it on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:26-28 ESV).
Anyone who has ever been oppressed, persecuted, or controlled in any way knows how terrifying people can be. People who have power to control others instill a deep sense of fear. They use threats and intimidation to control their victims, rendering them powerless and often physically, emotionally, and spiritually unwell. Jesus was in stark contrast to oppressors. He was a safe shelter for people who lived in constant fear. His disciples were going to be intimidated, beaten, shamed, and threatened to stop speaking.
Jesus didn’t tell them to lay low. Instead, he told them not to fear and to speak truth even louder! This is a timeless message that we still need to hear 2,000 years later!