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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
- 1 John 4:18 (NRSV)
When I was a child my family did not attend church regularly. My primary exposure to preaching was through radio sermons that were mostly about fearing God’s condemnation. I started to attend church at age 12, and I was relieved to discover that the preaching there was much different. The focus was on God’s love for us and our love for others. But a part of me worried that our church might be watering down the Bible’s message.
Then one day I came across today’s quoted verse. I was overjoyed to discover that God does not want us to live in fear of condemnation. Such fearful love is incomplete, immature, imperfect. The loving message I heard at church is true.
I am now a pastor, and I encourage my church members not to fear the condemnation of God or of other people who claim we are not true Christians because our beliefs and practices differ from theirs. Paul’s message to the Romans in today’s reading reminds us, “It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?” As followers of Christ, we can know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Thanks be to God!
Daily devotionals from The Upper Room