Once bitten, twice shy. Caution characterises this second lockdown. Most, especially the more vulnerable, remain cautious about the virus. But this time there’s a new caution: are we being manipulated by fear?
SAGE set out means for “persuasion” back in March. In bold type they wrote
“The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.”
Their strategy is to scare us with graphs, ads and soundbites. This makes things confusing: am I too scared, too complacent or scared just enough?
One particular comfort to Christians in such times is knowing that “perfect loves cast our fear.” How have they come to experience this perfect love?
Fears in perspective
In an age of anxiety we need to put our fears in perspective. Austerity, Brexit, climate change and social media all can unsettle us. We worry about family and friends, money and jobs, aging and dying. And what happens afterwards.
Christians have found that the prospect of meeting their judge puts all other fears in perspective. Finding freedom from this fear casts out all others.
We know that every day we say things we shouldn’t and Jesus warned that on the day of judgement we will give account for every careless word we speak. We know that every day wrong thoughts are in our hearts and the Bible tells us that God will judge the secrets of our hearts. It also tells us how to escape.
We don’t escape by trying our best or doing good things to make up for the bad ones. No fair judge would let a murderer off because he had tried to be nice to people afterwards. We do escape by knowing a perfect love.
We all value being loved. A mother pours out her love on a new baby – yet even a mother’s love is not perfect. A husband and wife promise to love each other for life – yet no marriage is perfect. But God’s love is perfect.
The Bible says “God is love.” It is not what he shows; it is who he is. Love governs everything he does. Love defines him.
Our judge is a loving judge. He knows that he cannot just ignore our sins. He knows we can never make up for them. That is why God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to this world.
Jesus Christ lived a perfect life of perfect love. He died to take the punishment for all of our sins, including our careless words and wrong thoughts.
Fear cast out
To remove fear, we need to deal with the root cause. At this time of year we celebrate freedom of fear from war, by the defeat of aggressors like Nazi Germany.
When someone turns from their sin and asks God to forgive them, they experience perfect love casting out fear. All fear of being punished for what they have done is gone. Their conscience is clear.
Knowing no fear of punishment after death, being sure of heaven, is not overconfidence. If you hope that God might let you in based on what you have done, then there is no assurance. But Christians are sure of heaven not based on what they do, but on what Christ has done for them.
We do not want to be rash; we must take Covid seriously. But we do want to be realistic. We cannot abolish death, only delay it.
Only by knowing God’s perfect love, can we know freedom from fear. Are you sure of heaven? You can be by turning from trusting yourself to trust in Jesus alone for forgiveness. And you will experience the perfect love that casts out fear.
If you have any questions or would like to know more please contact us.