One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is found in a small letter written by the apostle John. In 1 John 4:18, it says this: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Contrary to popular belief, fear is a terrible motivator. Fear sure can work for a time, but in the end, fear leads you down a path of despair, confusion, and anxiety. Love, on the other hand, is the most powerful motivator of all. Love compels us to live sacrificially, to love others first, and to do everything with the betterment of others at the forefront of our minds.
Love is what motivated Jesus to go to the cross.
Love is what held Him there.
Love is what changed the course of history as we know it.
This story of love is known as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel, also referred to as the Good News, is a story that has stirred up a longing in millions and millions of people to believe in the story’s main protagonist - Jesus from Nazareth.
Much has been made of this Man, Jesus. Some have viewed Him as a prophet. A political figure. An all-around good guy. Others have seen Him as a mad man. A lunatic. A myth. But one thing reigns true - the story of Jesus has power, and this power comes from the love of God.
There is power in the story of Jesus because it is a story of a Man who did not use fear as His motivator, but He operated entirely through love. Everything Jesus did was saturated with love. And as John so beautifully puts it, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
This Good News does not come wielding fear, but it comes in the gentleness and love-filled embrace of a Savior who came to cast out all of our fear.
As we enter into this Easter season, this truth remains constant, but the fear we feel can still seem so... real. We cannot change the fact that our Easter plans may have been canceled, but we can always tell the story of Jesus and His sacrificial love. The world needs to hear it.
This Easter, motivate your church through love by sharing the compelling story of what Jesus has done for humanity. By the power of storytelling, you can combat fear with love. How do we do this?
When you spend more than 15 minutes on social media these days, you probably don’t leave thinking, “wow, I feel so relieved and full of hope for the future now!” You probably close the browser thinking, “wow... I feel worse than I did before.”
Fear and anxiety are the main ingredients in the current digital dialogue during this global pandemic, and posts centered around love are few and far between. Even the tiny glimmers of hope and love seem to be covered by darkness and fear. But we have a promise - that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it! This light is the light of Jesus and His great love for us.
Instead of contributing to the conversation of fear, you have an opportunity to mobilize and bring a campaign rooted in the love of God. This is simply done by marking your social presence with the love of Jesus through Scriptures, quotes, and messages of hope. You can utilize the Great News campaign, which will give you access to free graphics, videos, and copy all centered around the hope, peace, joy, and love of Jesus.
One of the greatest things you can do when you find yourself struggling is not to shrink back, but to actually reach out to others. This does not minimize your difficulties, but it allows you to help someone in need and serve them.
Helping others shifts your mindset. Helping others brings about humility and meekness. Helping others ultimately helps you.
Serving is the ultimate act of love, and love gets your mind off of fear and onto the real purpose: the opportunity to impact people that are hurting right now.
Encourage your congregation to focus on the needs of others rather than fixating on fear and anxiety. Honestly, when they begin to meet the needs of those around them, their fear will fade away.
When love is present, fear has no place. It must flee.
To practically encourage your community in love, set up a way for them to donate to the needs of their community. This could be through a fundraiser, food drop off point, or benevolence fund. Whatever it may be, let love be the motivator.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
There is no doubt that the Church as a whole is experiencing fear, anxiety, and frustration... but we are also experiencing pain.
It hurts that we can’t gather. It hurts that our plans to reach others are canceled. It hurts to feel alone and isolated.
We, as humans, resist pain. When we experience it, we do everything we possibly can to relieve it and make it go away. But what if there was purpose in pain?
Childbirth is one of the most painful things a human could ever go through. And Jesus actually spoke of this a few times with immense purpose. He understood childbirth. When a woman experiences birth, the pain they feel is not due to an injury or an ailment - the pain exists to help her. With every contraction comes pain, but it also comes with a sign that the baby is nearer to being born. When the laboring mother finally embraces the pain and leans into it, she can progress and use the pain to her advantage. And suddenly... a miracle takes place, and new life is born.
There is purpose in the pain.
In the same way, Jesus spoke to His disciples and said this: “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again, and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:21-22.
Out of the fire of pain and anguish, new life and joy are born. As the Church is experiencing the pain and the impact of the global pandemic, we have a choice. We can either shrink back and let the pain reign over us, or we can embrace it and use it to make a real change in our world.
So use this pain as a motivation to love others. Share your pain with others, share your anxieties, share your doubts. More than likely, those around you are feeling the same way, and you can meet each other in that pain. We can genuinely mourn with those who mourn and yet comfort them in the same way Christ has comforted us.
When you get into ministry, we all usually enter it with the same heart: to show people the love of Jesus. It begins with a focus on people. But over time, as difficulties, burnout, and even global pandemics come our way, our focus can shift from the primary purpose.
Instead of the well-being of people being our primary focus, we shift our attention to our systems, ministries, tasks, and workload. People become more like statistics than souls. It can be pretty easy to build a fruitful ministry on your own merit, sure, but there is no eternal effect if people are ignored in the process.
During this time, it may be all too easy to focus on upping our giving strategy, organizing our assets, and getting all of our ducks in a row. But the purpose still hasn’t changed even though church as we know it has. The aim is always to love others.
We often can hold the growth of our ministry tightly with our hand with a closed fist while not even realizing that we have zero ability in and of ourselves to make our church grow and thrive. “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7.
It is God who grows our churches and sustains them - not us. So instead of taking this time to obsess over the process and the system, trust that God will take care of your community. And in the meantime, focus on loving your community and serving them well.
Encourage your community with the love of Jesus. Reach out to those in need that call your church home. Reach out to those who don’t even attend church. As you seek to meet the needs of others, with love being at the center of it all, growth will come. Finances will come. Generosity will flow.
Right now, we are all suffering in some way. Whether we are out of work, facing financial turmoil, or stuck at home - we are all hurting as our lives have been flipped upside down. Even though we may not like it, our simple act of staying home is a sacrifice that could save the lives of dozens and even thousands.
Our pure sacrifice of staying home can save the lives of those we have never even met.
Similarly, Jesus’ death on the cross took great humility and sacrifice. He willingly laid down His own needs, desires, and life for the sake of humanity. This is the most magnificent display of love in human history, and it makes staying at home for a few weeks seem pretty comfortable, doesn’t it?
This does not mean you should minimize people’s suffering. Still, it does mean encouraging your community to look at the bigger picture and how their sacrificial actions can make an impact far beyond their comprehension. This is what love requires of us.
Jesus leads us in the way of love. He shows us the way of sacrificial love that puts others first. There is power in the Good News of Jesus, and this power exists only because of “His great love with which He loved us,” as Ephesians 2:4 puts it.
This love was perfectly displayed through what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross and 3 days later when He rose from the grave. Today, He is Risen and is motivating His Church to share this same, sacrificial love. Although church services may be completely different on April 12, we still have the opportunity to reach more people than ever through proclaiming the Great News online.
This Easter, fear has no place in our churches. Let’s combat fear with love.
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