Last Sunday I preached to the 7am and Afternoon services. I was to speak on a message which was entitled Love Versus Fear. Upon reviewing the source material I was, well, disappointed. From my perspective it looked like a dossier of sorts on fear, details on how it works against us, and how church leaders are susceptible to preaching out of it, therefore promoting it even more. The focus was on fear. Love came after that as an afterthought, and even then, the emphasis was more on our making an effort of receiving this love more than it was just receiving it.
We like to come together to beat our chests and say that we’re all about the grace of God, but I saw some subtle undertones of glorifying our own efforts in that message, and I didn’t like it at all.
As usual, I deviated from the source material. Now, for both services I thought I was extremely important to point out(1)how fear was our default mode since the fall,(2)the extreme measures that our God took as an expression of love for each and every one of us, and(3)my personal perspective as to how great of a love we now have because of Christ and His finished work.
In the Garden of Eden, after the fall, after shame, Adam told God that he hid from Him because he was ‘afraid‘. From this I built that through the fall, it wasn’t just sin and death that entered the world, but fear as well.
In God’s grace and timing, He would introduce a system to Moses and the people of Israel – this system would reveal the perfect and thrice holy standards a Creator demanded of its creation. God knew that they will never meet these standards, so He also introduced a means for anyone under this Law to correct and cleanse themselves when they would make a mistake – because He KNEW they were going to make lots of mistakes. Bulls, Goats, Pigeons, and wheat offerings were prescribed as sacrifices to cover a man’s sins for a given period of time.
In the Garden of Eden, we saw fear infused into this reality. Some generations later, sacrifices were to be offered to allay these fears, if only for a year at a time.
Fast forward to the Garden of Gethsemane, where an adult Jesus Christ was praying. While fear was infused into all creation in the Garden of Eden, in Gethsemane, Jesus passionately prayed that the love with which God has loved Him may be in us, and Him in us.
His prayer would be answered, immediately.
Soon after His prayer, the Jewish authorities took Him and brought Him before the Sanhedrin, just like anyone would bring a sacrifice to the priest. They beat Him, just as the priest and the one offering the sacrifice would lay their hands on the sacrifice. I have no scriptural basis for this but I have reason to believe it was at these moments when the sin of man and the righteousness of the Sacrifice was being exchanged, and it was in this exchange that we became one with Christ, and Christ became one with us, forever.
An inseparable union between Creator and creation came as a result of the exchange. Because of what happened in the garden of Eden, we were as whitewashed tombs. Trying in vain to look beautiful in the outside, but full of death in the inside. But Christ died, so we died. As Christ was buried, so we were buried. Through Christ’s death and burial, our old identity as mausoleums was utterly destroyed and annihilated.
We know Christ did not stay dead, so we did not stay dead. And as Christ was raised, we came alive also, as new creations. We were once tombs filled with death. Now, we are living and breathing temples of the Holy Spirit, overflowing with life and light inside, no matter how beautiful or how ugly things get in the outside.
I am intrigued that the Book of Revelation expresses how Death itself was thrown into the lake of fire. This tells me that Death died. We died to Sin the moment Christ died. It ought to follow that as we revel and relax in the light and life of Christ, that we understand that we no longer have any obligations to sin and, consequently, fear.
In its place we have Christ, and Christ has us – we are one with a love which is THE Love, and this is a perfect and everlasting love; this is love that is not something to learn, but to enjoy, as it is a living, breathing Love – we have nothing less that Jesus Christ Himself.
Fear dies, but perfect love endures forever.