2015-5-3 Fear Factor vs. Love Factor, Sermon by Tezenlo Thong

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Fear Factor vs. Love Factor

(1 John 4:7-21)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 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.”

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What drives your life? What drives our church? What drive our society or the world? Is it love? Or is it fear? Probably, most of us would say that it is definitely fear that drives everything. We are living under constant fear. We are being bombarded with news that drives us to live in fear. We fear for another economic collapse, terrorist attack, cyber attack or scam, religious extremism, political and social unrest, hyper partisanship, extreme weather patterns, etc.

The feeling of fear can be a good thing. It can help us to avoid dangerous situations. Or help us to be cautious in life. However, fear can also be incapacitating. It can inhibit us from achieving our goal or attaining our potential. Fear can strain our relationship with others. The writer of first John invites us to live a life that’s driven not by fear but by love.

What drives your life – love or fear? In other words, is your life driven by fear factor or love factor? There are some people whose lives are driven by the fear of the other. The fear of people of a different religion. The fear of people who do not think or believe like us. The fear of people with different skin color. The fear of people of different ethnic origin. The fear of “illegal” immigrants. The fear of conservatives or liberals. Even in our religious belief, it is possible to live in fear. The fear of being punished by God. The fear of going to hell. The fear of God not loving or forgiving us.

The scriptures this morning call us to live not in fear of others but to love one another. Love and abiding in Christ go hand in hand. If we say we love God but do not love others we do not abide in God. For love comes from God. “If we love one another, God lives in us,” writes John.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

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