In my blog last week I looked at the issue of resistance to change. This came about because we are now in Lent and one of the challenges for us in our Lenten journey as we reflect on our relationship with God is this; When we look at our relationship with God and recognize the need for change, how am I going to allow that change to occur in my life that is necessary?
When we look at the need for change in our lives, one of the initial responses we generate within ourselves is fear. We are afraid of the consequences for making change. For example: I have been flirting with a work colleague, and now recognise that is inappropriate. Problem, what is their response going to be? Am I going to get into trouble? Am I going to lose my job? Another example: My spouse and I have drifted apart over time. If I do anything about it will that mean the end of my relationship? Will nothing happen? What is worse? Another example: I am in a crappy job. If I do something about it, what will it mean for my career? How will it impact my family? Will I get another job?
These are real and genuine fears that inoculate us, or cause us to resist change in our lives. John the Evangelist, who wrote the Fourth Gospel and the three letters bearing his name, may or may not have written Revelation, wrote in his covering letter to the Gospel in 1John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear.” It is a great passage, in fact I really love the whole letter, it is so good. The problem is this though, where do you find perfect love? The other problem, not for John but for us, is this, we only have one word for love, love. John had three words at his disposal to describe love, agape, phileo and eros. (For a further description see last weeks blog) The last two are always human expressions of love, and therefore are not perfect. Only the first, agape is of God and from God, and therefore is perfect. John is saying this agape love which is perfect casts out fear.
Now all emotions, including love do not exist by themselves. They are associated with a person. I sense fear, I express love. Fear and love do not exist apart from the person. Thus the only way in which we can have perfect love is to have God at the centre of our lives. We need to invite God into our lives, be the centre of all that we do. (For some ideas, see my earlier blogs especially my Feb 5 Blog) When we do that, and when we wed ourselves to God and His purposes in our lives, then we release the agape love, the perfect love of God, and that love is able to either suppress, or control fear to the point where we are no longer unable to make those changes necessary in our lives, the block to that change is removed. Be warned, it may take time, especially if you are new to inviting God into your life and making Him the centre of your life. However, when you achieve this, then the words of John come true for us “perfect love casts out fear.” Then we are able to become truly the people God has destined us to become, and we can truly live full lives, not constrained by fear of the unknown, but by the assuredness of the presence of God.
Back to our examples this then becomes helpful. Why were we afraid of the change in the first place? Because we were uncertain of the future, and how it might impact on us. Now with God at the centre of our lives and exuding His perfect love we now have a different paradigm by which we can view the issue before us. Now we are no longer relying on our own abilities, but trusting in God’s abilities. We are no longer concerned about an uncertain future, because we now have a future where God is central and that will always be better than any future that doesn’t have God in it. Matthew 5 contains in its opening verses the Beatitudes, “Blessed are…… You will …” Jesus is saying that when you put God in the centre the current situation you find yourself in will be changed and transformed by God when he is at the centre. You will not be magically taken out of the situation and plonked in a new one, but with God at your side you will be taken through the necessary change and transformation, even if it is painful, and it usually is, till you get to the new changed transformed future. Further that change and transformation will be usually something more than you can ever imagine for yourself, because our imagination is always limited by our being human, whereas God is not so limited.
So can I encourage you this Lent, to continue to put God at the centre of your life, and in doing so allow his perfect love to emanate from you and cast out fear in your life, especially fear to change, and allow the love of God to work in you His perfect will and His perfect destination for your life.