-Rev. Evan Dolive-
This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.
1 John 4:17-19 CEB
During this time of Lent, we are on a journey to a destination that many of us want to forget; we want to jump to the end, we want the resurrection, the shouts of Hallelujah and angelic choirs singing. This road that we are not now is dark and depressing at times. But we can’t leave, we can’t jump ahead yet. We need to stay and settle into this of uncertainly and self-reflection for a while longer
We live in a world of uncertainty and fear; news channels use this to their advantage to promote their story line, politicians use it to promote their ideals and even the church uses it to bolster numbers and attendance.
The fear of the unknown can be so powerful that we are cemented in our own ways and in our own “comfort zones.” We eat the same thing for breakfast, we take a coffee break at the same time and we like our TV shows at a certain time and on and on and on.
The fear we experience in our lives is normal and natural but so is antithesis, the love that we have. Love is one of those things that we talk about all the time and strive for; in a nutshell, we love love. Love is a wonderful feeling and emotion. The author of I John is imploring the hearers to cast off fear not in a brazen way rather to settle into the notion of the abiding love of God. The author continues and states that as followers of Christ we are called to a standard not of fear and contentment, but to a standard of love for all others.
I John 4:19 is one of my favorite verses in all of the Bible. It is central to my theology of love for others; the only reason you have the capacity to love another human being (romantically or not) is because of the love that God has shown you. We as human beings has been given a gift, a free gift, a wonderful and miraculously gift, unconditional love from God. We then are to take this free gift and share it without hesitation to all people we encounter. If we at any point start to put conditions on the love in which we give then we are squandering a free gift that was given to us.
Being bearers of God’s love is of great importance. This cannot and should not be taken lightly. Thomas Merton, a Catholic Monk, once wrote, “Our job [as followers of Christ] is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”
O God the source of all love, may we this Lenten season see you in the people around us; may we cast off our fear and open our hearts to feel what you feel, see what you see and love who you love. In the name of the one who gave for our sins, Jesus the Christ, Amen.
Rev Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He currently serves as the Associate Minister for Family Life at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Longview, Texas. He is the author of "Seeking Imperfection: Body Image, Marketing and God," a theological examination of marketing and body images propagated in the world today and the Christian response. He also writes for various online publications and at evandolive.com.
He is currently working on his Doctorate at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. He is married to his high school sweetheart and has three children ages 6,4 and 2.