Thursday, October 30, 2008

Discipleship Fear and Love

1 John 4:17-18
17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

Part of developing an effective system of making disciples is knowing what a disciple is. More specifically, the question is, “what are the marks of a fully committed disciple of Jesus Christ?”

This passage from 1 John adds a useful element to the discussion. The journey of discipleship is a journey of sanctification: of being made perfect in love. Let’s say for a moment that a disciple is one who is growing in perfection in love. I do not think it is fair or useful to say that a disciple is one who is already perfect in love. Rather, a mark of a true disciple is that one is committed to growing in love. The scripture shows us that there is a clear relationship between love and fear as we read, “whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

So, is it fair to day that a disciple is one who is experiencing a decrease in fear and an increase in love? Is it possible for one to evaluate for oneself if this is happening?

I think we need to be realistic about where we are in our own walks. I am not close to a place of living with no fear. I don’t know that I have ever met anyone completely free of fear. However, I have met people who refuse to be ruled by fear who live their lives and make decisions based more on love than on fear. I have also met people who I have witnessed moving along the continuum from fear-based living to love-based living.

Perhaps the question will take us back to the martyrs. I would be surprised if those who gave their lives in defense of their faith did so without a moment of fear. However, love won the day.

This might be an important question right now. On the eve of an election, in the midst of an economic downturn, in an age where many are looking over their shoulders for terrorists, how are we acting or reacting as disciples? Does our reaction look any different from those who don’t profess to follow Jesus?

Let me know your thoughts.


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