Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
1 John 4:15-21
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Fear is a fascinating emotion. It causes us to withdraw from the world and treat others with hostility and paranoia. Many people talk of the “good ole’ days” when kids could run the streets until the sun went down. Why don’t they do that anymore?-Fear of what might happen to our kids if we don’t watch them every moment of the day. We wonder how people will treat us if something happened while we were not watching. Will we be ostracized and condemned? What will our friends on Facebook and Snapchat think? And when we are controlled by that fear everyone and everything becomes an enemy. But love, specifically the complete, unending, free love of Jesus on the cross, is the only antidote to fear. When we fully embrace the love of God then we can begin to truly love. We can stop judging others because they are loved too! This is not mere tolerance, as if God just wants us to “live and let live.” This is hard, sacrificial love that sets people free through undeserved forgiveness of real sins. It is the saving love of Jesus.