"We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not yet been made perfect in love."
Well shoot! I guess we all know we aren't perfect, but this verse just seems to slap my reality in the face.
I believe in God. That's a fact. I love God. I even believe ( in spite of there being no reason I deserve it) that God loves me.
So why then, do I find myself still such a seething mass of anxiety? When I was little my dad called me his little worrywort. Well I am all grown up now. I've been out on my own longer than I was a child in my mother's home. Surely I should have outgrown the worrywort bit somewhere along the line.
Worry. Fear. Anxiety. All part of the human condition, I suppose. All serving distinct purposes in appropriate amounts. But when they get out of hand they start to become a serious problem.
Worry can make us sick. Fear can hold us back from doing what we are called to do. Anxiety can slow things down to a grinding halt.
There are many things that cause fear in our lives. Far more than I can list here. But because I came here to be your Transitional minister nearly three years ago, let me address one o two in particular.
We are one of many, many churches who have been caught up in the process of ever changing society. Born in the frontier; schooled in the industrial revolution; bursting with growth in the post war periods when purpose was a desperate need and service organizations thrived; we, like so many others, have been in a gradual decline over the past 40 years. Decline is scary. Let's be honest, it can be terrifying. Fear plays a big role in declining churches.
To reverse decline we are called upon to make friends with change. Well guess what? Change is scary, too!
What is a church to do?
Let go of the reins. Take chances. Jump out of airplanes (metaphorically speaking). All potentially terrifying acts, themselves.
But we have a super power. And a super power that makes us impervious to Fear and it's minions anxiety and worry.
We don't have to worry because as it says in First John, " Perfect Love drives out fear."
I imagine Perfect Love riding into town on a giant steed, with a lariat twirling and a bullwhip snapping as fear, squealing, runs as fast as it's little feet can carry it. Away. Far away from Perfect Love.
Easy to imagine... A little more difficult to make real.
Some might even suggest that it is impossible to know Perfect Love, much less to drive out fear.
But again, we have something of a secret weapon on our side. We know that while many things are impossible for humans like us, "with God nothing will be impossible". I looked up a few familiar phrases like that just to see what I could find using Google.
I'll be moving on in a few short weeks. You will continue your journey toward of transition. I'll be praying for you to believe fully that you are in the care of the God who as Perfect Love, drives out fear, and with whom nothing is impossible.