17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 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 been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
AW Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our view of God impacts how we think of ourselves, how we live our lives, and how we view others. I think we all have to honestly wrestle with our functional view of God. We may say one thing, but have a very different image that keeps popping up in our head.
In my own life, I have often thought of God as being discouraged with me. At times, I’ve thought of him as an old, grumpy man looking down with frustration at my inability to “measure up.” Over the last few years, I’ve been on a journey to understand God’s deep love. As we studied in the series on the Prodigal Son, God longs to be in relationship with us. When we turn to him, he runs to meet us with open arms, even in our mess. We were designed to be in relationship with him. This truth has really impacted me lately, as I’ve more fully accepted God’s incredible love for me.
This passage in 1 John provides us with great encouragement. In Christ, we no longer have to fear. As John reminds us, we have “confidence in the day of judgment” and “there is no fear in love.” Fear can’t exist in the presence of God. We now operate from a place humble confidence, realizing we are fully known and truly loved. We live in the way of God, not for approval, but from approval. As we come to understand God’s love for us, we will in turn genuinely love others. He accepts us in our brokenness and we’ll be much more quick to love others the same way. Today, consider the following questions: What attitude does God have toward you? If you picture him walking toward you, what is the look on his face? Write a letter from God to you, reminding you of your true identity and his gracious love.
By Billy Berglund