Dan Notley spoke at our church recently after returning from Thailand where he and his wife are now opening homes for children at risk for human and sex trafficking (see DTN Ministries for more information on that). He said something profound that I want to key in on today. You can hear the audio clip from our service below.
Here are a few excerpts from what Dan said (bold type at beginning is mine):
“The greatest problem facing the human race in general, but the church in particular, is not sin, it’s fear. Fear is the only weapon that Satan has. But if you can buy into the lies, if you buy into the fear, then everything else becomes possible for him.
Fear is at the root of all sin, all disobedience, all disease, all dysfunction. He traffics in fear….
From the day that you’re conceived, the enemy is conspiring to rob you of your destiny, to rob you of your giftings and your callings. He can’t get at God [directly]. The only way he can get at God is by getting at His children, getting at His creation, and his primary weapon is fear….
Every experience you have comes attached with a message. Actually, comes attached with two messages. But we usuallly listen to the one that tells us we’re not enough, we’re inadequate, we’re at risk, we’re in danger, we can’t trust. We can’t trust God….The problem is, once you believe the lie, you empower the liar….
Then we live in such a way and make choices that actually fulfills that lie, and then we say, “‘Well, there it is. It must’ve been true.'”
When I heard this it made me think about how much of our popular evangelical theology and teaching is rooted in fear—fear of hell, punishment, God’s wrath, the Great Tribulation, false teachers, false prophets, the judgment of God on nations, and on and on. These fear-based subjects seem to hold a strange fascination for us.
After all, many of us came to Christ to escape something (hell, punishment, tribulation…), so now we’re motivated by fear and self preservation. And these are powerful motivators. The only trouble is, neither one is found in the Kingdom of God, for God is love and there is no fear in love.
As Dan said, everything we see or experience comes attached with a message–actually, two messages. We’re more inclined to embrace the negative or fear-based option, which creates the “glasses” by which we even interpret Scripture.
Because of this fear-based paradigm, we seem obsessed with who the antichrist might be, blood moons, economic ruin, and other warnings of the latest prophets of doom. Our best-selling books seem to point this out. Don’t we find this focus a bit strange in light of being in relationship with a God who is called Love?
What if instead of trying to predict judgment and destruction on the world, we prayed for mercy and showed them His love?
What if we weren’t known for what we’re vehemently against but by how outrageously we love? Just a thought…
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be watchful, but we must remember that our enemies are not flesh and blood (Eph.6:12), no matter what nationality, religion, or lifestyle they may belong to or embrace. We are not called to judge them out of fear but to liberate them into love.
But we must be liberated into love ourselves.
God’s perfect love truly does cast out fear. Indeed, the Kingdom of God does not operate on fear but on love. Here’s what John said about it (bold type added):
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 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. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19 NKJV)
It was hard not to highlight this whole passage! There are several points that can be made here.
First, love was perfected in Christ. He showed us what God was really like, not the darkened, self-reflected image we had of Him before Christ.
Second, when we see Him as He really is, we see ourselves as we really are–in Christ. As Christ is, so are we in this world. This speaks to our identity and purpose.
Third, in Christ THERE IS NO FEAR. To have fear is to not be perfected in love. It is an inferior mindset and theological construct that must be jettisoned for the supremacy of love.
Fourth, this love originates with HIM, not with us. We learn to love Him with His love! (See also John 15:9.) Everything in the Kingdom comes by receiving; we learn to love by learning how to BE loved by God.
Dan says so many other really good things on the audio clip. The point is, God wants to deal a death blow to our fear! We’re living in the greatest hour the church has ever known. But do we know it? It all depends on our perspective. You decide which perspective you will embrace.