October 30, 2016
READ: 1 John 4:7-20
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid . . . this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love (v.18).
In the film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1, Katniss Everdeen, the face of the revolution against the evil Capitol, is attacked and strangled unconscious by her beloved friend, Peeta. When she comes to, Katniss’ friends inform her that the Capitol had brainwashed Peeta. Before letting him be rescued, they used fear conditioning to turn him into a weapon designed to kill her.
When asked if the brainwashing could be reversed, one of her comrades explained, “Fear is the most difficult thing to overcome. We are hardwired to remember fear best.”
Fear is a powerful emotion that’s deeply engrained in us, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the beginning, there was nothing for us to be afraid of. But fear found its way into human experience by rebellion—and it’s had quite a hold on us ever since.
After the first couple made the fateful choice to turn against their Creator and tried to run the world their way (Genesis 3:1-8), people began to live in fear of each other and of God. Suspicion quickly replaced trust. We were no longer open and vulnerable. Instead, fear drove us into hiding and to blaming (vv.9-13).
In the sequel, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2, Katniss’ unwavering love for Peeta helps him overcome his fears—turning an enemy back into a friend. It’s a beautiful example of the very thing Jesus came to do. He taught and showed us that the power of love is what can overcome the power of hatred and fear. As the apostle John wrote, “Perfect love expels all fear” (1 John 4:18).
Embracing the great love God showed us “while we were still his enemies” is what can rewire our hearts to remember and live out love, rather than fear (Romans 5:10).
365-day plan: Acts 15:1-21
The more we remember God’s great love, the more we are able to offer it to those who live in fear.
How can you speak love into the fears of a friend or foe this week? Why is perfect love stronger than fear?