Come and Worship… Do not be afraid!

Love > Fear

Perfect Love casts out fear

Yesterday I spent the bulk of the day with members of my small group helping one of our members clean out his mother’s home. She was kindof a hoarder, had given up housekeeping, and her son and his wife had to get her place ready for sale. On the way back with our small group leaders, we were talking about how hard it is to sacrifice for others, to be loving instead of selfish, not to judge people, and a number of other ways in which we fall short of God’s standard of perfection.

God is indeed perfect. God’s law also is perfect. I’m really … well … not perfect. To the discerning heart, it’s very obvious that every day is a struggle with sin and fear and pride. Yet God has called us to be perfect. (Matthew 5:48) Nobody can live up to the standard Jesus set, and God has made it clear that He will judge us by our deeds in this life.

This is not good news. As I said, there’s just no way for anyone (myself included) to live up to that expectation.

But my point in the car yesterday, which I thought I’d share here, is that we’re too hard on ourselves. Perhaps that sounds like a contradiction, but let me try to explain…

Everything I just said is true. God is perfect, and calls us to be perfect. And there’s absolutely no way to stand under the weight of that demand. Only Jesus did. Where I fail every day to measure up to God’s law, Jesus is a Great High Priest “who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15b) This is the really great news… that while I was yet a sinner (stubborn, selfish, rebellious … an intentional lawbreaker), Jesus died for me. (Romans 5:8) He lived a perfect, sinless life, but died a criminal’s death on a cross and was separated from God for me. He bore the weight of your sin and mine (and anyone who would receive him), so that when I’m judged by God the Father, He sees Jesus’ righteousness, His perfection … not whatever pitiful excuse for righteousness I might be tempted to attempt to cobble together on my own. So, I’m given life instead of death, because Jesus chose to die in my place. He took the nails for me. Paul (perhaps the most influential founder of the early church) put it this way, in Colossians… “you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

John, a close friend and apostle of Jesus, wrote, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

If this isn’t you, if you don’t have a relationship with God because of Christ’s death for you, or if the truth is that you’re not even sure you know what I’m talking about here, then you need Jesus. Period. If you have everything else, but miss that, then in truth you have nothing. And if you gave up everything just to walk with Jesus in the garden in the cool of the day and really know Him, then no matter what you left behind God will restore a hundred-fold (Mark 10:28-30). But if that’s you, then you were not the person I primarily had in mind in writing this blog; rather, I’m writing to those who love and follow Christ … about how to walk in the reality of a relationship with a Father who deeply loves you.

And perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). So, back to being to hard on ourselves…

I think it’s easy to think of God as waiting in heaven for me to make a mistake so He can smite me. Finger on the trigger … anger bubbling just below the surface … just waiting to pounce when He catches us breaking one of His many and utterly overwhelming rules. But that’s not how God really is! That is simply NOT God’s heart toward us. And most of us would agree with that in conversation, but how many of us live like it is?! Maybe it’s how we were raised? Something common in my generation? Maybe it’s our culture, and a by-product of our American self-reliant, get’er’done attitude? Not sure. But it’s there. I encounter it in conversation all the time. Sometimes veiled, sometimes not, but real.

But God loves us. He is our Father. I think we (this includes me) do a lot of damage to our relationship with God and our witness before others because of the way we perceive God – who He is to us. Maybe I’ll do a series on the various ways I have heard people – believers – describe God. They would never use these words, of course, but it’s not about words, it’s about the heart. What we believe is inside, and flows to the outside. It doesn’t originate in our words, it is manifested by them. We need a better walking-around theology about who God really is. 

It’s nearly Christmas, and I’ve been listening to “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” by Chris Tomlin a lot lately. And so I’ve been thinking alot about approaching God, about how He views us, about how we should view Him, and about what grace and worship should really be for the one who loves the Lord and is covered by the blood of Christ. Check out these words…

Good news of great joy for every woman, every man.
This will be a sign to you: a baby born in Bethlehem.

Come and worship. Do not be afraid.

A company of angels, “Glory in the highest!
And on the earth peace among those of whom His favor rests.”

Come and worship. Do not be afraid.

Unto you a child is born. Unto us a Son is given.
Let every heart prepare His throne, and every nation under Heaven.

Come and worship. Do not be afraid.

My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord. My soul magnifies the Lord.
He has done great things for me, great things for me.

Of His government there will be no end
He’ll establish it with His righteousness
And He shall reign on David’s throne
And His name shall be from this day on
Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father

My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord
He has done great things for us

My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord
My soul magnifies the Lord
He has done great things for me
Great things for me

He has done great things!

I’ll attempt the series, but the long and the short of it is that God has made a way for you. You are called to be His child – to approach the throne of grace with confidence, not with fear (Hebrews 4:16). Sons and daughters should not be afraid of their fathers. Even earthly fathers know how to give good things to their kids. How much more does our perfect Father in heaven?! (Matthew 7:9-11)

And lastly, a final note about fearing God…

I’m sure some are reading this and saying to themselves (rightly so) that the Bible is clear that we should “fear God”. This is true, and many in our day try to view God as too familiar, too “squishy”, somehow easy on sin. But that is not true. God hates sin so much that he was willing to sacrifice His Son to deal with it. And I cannot even imagine the wrath God will pour out on the one who tramples underfoot the blood of Christ with the “that was nothing, I’ll take care of it” attitude that is I think common in our culture today. Luke spoke the truth when he wrote that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:28-31).

But it’s important to keep these concepts separate. The blood of Christ changes them. The cross is the pivot point of all of history. Without it, we fear God … because alone before Him, we are ruined … destined for the lake of fire as the wages rightly due our wicked and rebellious hearts. But Christ died for us … even for me. And covered by His blood, I am not afraid. I am, only and entirely because of Jesus, what I was meant to be: justified before God. Bought and paid for. Pure. Spotless. Simultaneously a son and a bride. Beloved. Going home.

So, come and worship. Do not be afraid!

Come and worship; do not be afraid!

Come and worship; do not be afraid!

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
This entry was posted in Psalms, Music and Worship, Real Life, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Come and Worship… Do not be afraid!

  1. knenn11 says:

    Nicely put. Are you working on the series?

    Like

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