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1 John 4:7-21








Lesson Focus

In exploring the concept of perfect love as the antidote to fear, 1 John emphasizes the transformative power of divine love in shaping believers' attitudes and actions towards themselves, others, and the world.

 


Learning Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:


  1. Understand that fear dissipates in the face of perfect love, enabling believers to approach life with boldness and trust.

  2. Be encouraged to embrace vulnerability through love.

  3. Understand God's nature as love, which empowers Christians to extend grace, generosity, and compassion without fear of repercussions.

 


The sky is Falling

No, the sky is not falling. Many Christians, upon hearing the slightest bad news about the church or the moral decline of society, or what have you, begin to run around like Chicken Little and the townspeople of Oakey Oaks.

 

I suppose it’s easier to spread bad news these days, especially because of social media. It just takes one person standing in the bell tower, wringing the bell while yelling, “The sky is falling!” In fear, everyone begins to panic, and when panic happens, chaos begins to break loose, and damage is needlessly done.

 

It seems to me, as I’ve watched the Christian landscape that Christians seem to be dominated by fear, just like Chicken Little. So what’s behind all this fear, and what are we afraid of?

 

We’re not very good at trusting that God’s got the whole thing and that he’s taking it in a good direction. Because of that…

 

I think that Christians are often afraid of sin and those who sin. This is a natural tendency of anyone who is trying to be free of something. We don’t want to get caught up in it, so like a disease that might cause us great distress, we fear it and avoid it at all costs. To be sure, we shouldn’t get too cozy with sin. But when our fear of sin causes us to be afraid of those who we think are sinners, then we’re no better than the Pharisees. But, if, as we’ve said over the past few weeks, we’re constantly breathing in the spirit of God, then we need not fear those who sin. A friend of mine has a habit of saying that holiness is always more contagious than sin. As we said last week, greater is he who is in us than the one who is in the world.

 

I think Christians are often afraid that others will find out we’re sinners. Seriously, we’re all sinners. We’re selfish folks; that’s just who we are at the root of things. It just happens to be that because of God’s grace and his Spirit working in us, we’re in the process of becoming free from sin. We need not fear being labeled as sinners because everyone already knows that we are. When we pretend that we weren’t once completely dominated by sin, we only do damage to the cause of Christ. Don’t flaunt your sin, though. But don’t be scared of it either.

 

I think Christians are often afraid to love because love means vulnerability. We are afraid of getting hurt. No one likes being open and vulnerable and having someone else take advantage of that. But that’s precisely what God in Jesus Christ did, both through creation and incarnation; God opened himself up in hopes that we would love him back, and we constantly and consistently have rejected that love. Yet, that love persists. God wants us to be the same way with the world that he is with the world. It might not seem this way, but love ultimately wins the day.