1 John 4:18 to 19. 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. We love because he first loved us. I can tell you that my story is full of fear. I have believed, for so long, that God is this God who is constantly judging. Walking around with a clipboard assessing everything I'm doing, to see if I'm worthy of love. I've grown up with God. I've got a family who loves Him and has served Him, but I misunderstood who he was. I've lived with that fear. And when I wasn't fearing, I was full of arrogance and pride. And I have had to come to understand that love produces safety! Produces acceptance! We have a father who was adopted us. Who has made us his own so we can come and share all of those parts of us that we don't want anyone else to see, and we know will be met with Grace and with truth. We can be safe with him.
I think all of this became glaringly obvious a few weeks back when I went on a Holy Home Visit to one of our communities here in South Africa called Mafambisa. And I was sitting there in a house with a family that I've been walking with this year, and there was a sixteen-year-old girl who is pregnant. And she was sitting there as her mother who was got a very broken story. She actually gave birth to this girl when she was 14 herself, and she was sitting there saying I can never forgive you for doing the same mistake as what I did. And this girl was covering her face and she was crying. And I just sat there and it just hit me. That was my fear in full Focus. That's how I thought God treated me. And actually we actually deserve that. We deserve got to say that's enough you made enough mistakes. This is it. Game over. Relationship over. I will never forgive you. But he doesn't and that is not the gospel!
This is something we believe we believe in a god of love who burst into our world and said, "I know that you are so broken, but I am going to rescue you. I'm going to pay that price. Pay that cost. That is what Christmas is all about - how God burst into this world in a state of vulnerability and says to us, "This is love. You can't not make mistakes. You could not not sin! I'm gonna burst in and be the rescuer and pay the price!"
And so that's why the rest of that verse in verse 19 says, "We love, because He first loved us." Until I understood, and as I'm growing in my understanding of His love, that's what gives me the power to love other people.