Keith Marshall writes for Hope Lutheran Church:
1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love” (NRSV).
As the Church, the Christmas season has ended and we have entered into the season of Epiphany. During this new season we continue to celebrate that God has become incarnate. We recognize that God has come close and vulnerable in Christmas, for our sake and the sake of the entire world. The light of Christ has entered the world; therefore during Epiphany we reflect on the light and dark imagery prevalent throughout Scripture.
John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (NRSV).
The epiphany of Epiphany is a reminder that God, through Jesus Christ, is up to something new and exciting! That the light of God has entered into the darkness of our world. And because the light has come into darkness, there is freedom to know that sin, death, fear, anxiety and divisions no longer have the final word. For in Christ our sins are forgiven and we been restored to a right relationship with God and each other.
Therefore, I find it curious that many Christians focus on the darkness and not on the light. What do I mean by this? I find it curious that we have been freed to love, but we still persist in the fear and demonization of others. I guess it is human nature to fear that which we don’t know. And where there is uncertainty and fear, it is easier to demonize than to understand.
Jesus has called us to be counter-cultural. Therefore, in a culture where the unknown produces fear, how might the church respond instead? I believe we have the answer in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love” (NRSV).
These are difficult words in a day and age where fear and anxiety run rampant. However, these words remind us that human nature hasn’t changed much over the millennia. That there has been and will continue to be a propensity to fear rather than love. These words from John do not give me hope.
However, John does provide us with hope, because of the truth he proclaimed John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” People of faith, may we run from the darkness of fear and hatred. May we cling to the light of God who is Jesus Christ. May we live not from a place of fear, but rooted in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
God’s blessings to you in 2016!