29 May Perfect love Casts out Fear
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear – 1 John 4:18
Creating a Safe Space
Safe space. The term is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. A quick google search manifests 3, 320 million results all of them referring to safe space in some way. It is a catch phrase in sectors such as education, childhood development, social development The concept of a safe space is based of the understanding that people are not able to grow, develop, learn, heal or be themselves unless they feel safe. While the understanding is relevant for everyone, it has been taken further to be particularly applicable for those of marginalised identities. Some work places and many universities across the western world have created a physical safe space for those who feel marginalised, in other environments the phrase “this is a safe space” is used to ensure that people become more comfortable or a ready to share or open up without fear or judgement.
We can be loathe to use the term safe space when it comes to our churches. However, churches are commanded to foster an environment of security and safety. As Christians we are commanded to love our neighbours unconditionally. We are to follow the example of Christ who loved so enormously that he laid down his life for our sins. In chapter 4 of 1 John, it is outlined for us, showing us that we have been given an incredible love which means that we also love. Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love… there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts our fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us (vs. 7-8; 18-19). The love that is fostered in Christian communities and churches creates an environment without judgement or fear. Our homes and churches should be considered safe spaces. The love that we have for one another and for our neighbour creates a nurturing, secure environment for everyone.
Fear creeps into so many of our relationships. It sneaks into our beliefs about other people, about our church, it twists around our understanding of God. Fear becomes a barrier to honesty. We are afraid of disappointing others so we don’t tell them the full story. We are afraid of what others think so we hide the truth. We are afraid of what might really be going on in our relationships or inside our own hearts so we push away the truth. In fear, we keep things hidden. We allow shame a place in our lives and our stories stay in the dark. If fear and shame are perpetuated, honesty is lost, vulnerability is a weakness and growth stagnates. Our community and relationships become distant as we do no feel secure. We continually push ourselves to perform, a part of us thinking that this will mean that we have better relationships with others and a better relationship with God.
No Fear in Love
In contrast, when we know and experience the love of Jesus we have peace and security. We are not afraid of the opinions of others or of the impact of our actions on them. We know the incredible cost of Jesus sacrifice and we know that it was there because of our brokenness. We are not afraid of disappointing God because we know that Christ has met the standard so that we do not need to. We are not afraid of the darkness or brokenness we find in ourselves because we know that it is right in that darkness that God is busy working.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need – Hebrews 4:16
When we have peace and security in our relationship with God, it flows over into our relationships with others. We are continually experiencing the unconditional love of Jesus in our lives and it overflows into the lives of those around us. Knowing the love of Jesus we know what it means to love fearlessly and unconditionally. We know what it means to be loved regardless of who we are or what we do.
Is your home a place of safety and security?
This love is what transforms our homes into a haven for our children so that they are able to grow up into the people that God has created them to be. It is the love that fosters creativity, allows our children to learn and explore fearlessly. The love of Christ is what opens our doors in hospitality, so that all who enter our homes are at ease. Because we know the love of Christ and it is flowing through us, our homes are a place where our family and all who enter feel safe and secure.
Is your Church a Haven for the hurting?
This is the love that transforms our churches into havens for the hurting. It is the love that cultivates security so that the broken are able to slowly become whole. It is the love that assures the anxious soul that there is peace and security so that they are able to let go of their heavy burden. As the love of Christ is put into action through the church, his bride, those who have experienced trauma find healing, those who are distressed find comfort, relationships blossom and grow and love replaces fear.
Is your church filled with the love of Jesus so that growth and healing flourish?
Are the members secure in their relationships? With each other? With God?
Do people feel at ease when they enter your home?
Do you know the unconditional love of God and do you position yourself under it everyday so that it flows through you into the lives of those around you?