Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Would Jesus vote green? XII

Fear (cont)
But of all the responses we’ve looked at, while sorrow is probably the one I can most straightforwardly endorse, fear is the one that the Christian message affirms least.

Of all the commands in the Bible, by far the most frequent is ‘fear not’. It is often thought that hatred is the opposite of love. Not so. The greatest barrier to love is fear. The Apostle John tells us that ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4.18).

And how, according to Jesus, is it possible to fear not?

Because God loves his world. God passionately, deeply, unswervingly, sacrificially loves his world. He will not abandon it. He has shown a pledge of his commitment to his good world by raising Jesus bodily from the dead. This is the start of his clean-up job. It is his pledge, his down-payment, guaranteeing that he will finish the job, that he will likewise raise all those who belong to Jesus, that he will liberate the groaning creation from its bondage to decay (Rom 8.19-22).

No matter how bad we get, God can heal and restore. Even if we destroy ourselves, which would be very sad, God can raise the dead. This is not an excuse, a safety-net freeing us from responsibility. Precisely the opposite. God loves his world and will restore it, but he will destroy those who destroy the earth (Revelation 11.18). Those who persist squandering God’s good gifts, ungratefully hoarding all they can lay their hands on, apathetically or cynically ignoring the plight of their neighbour, despoiling the world God made, in short, those who persist in rejecting life as Jesus shows us it was meant to be lived, they will eventually succeed in cutting themselves off from life as it should be. By rejecting Jesus, you reject the one who brings life and so choose death.

But those who weep over the cracked world, who admit they are part of the problem, who realise that Jesus paid the ransom to set them free from guilt, who renounce their selfish or self-righteous lifestyle, who yearn for the liberation of creation, who follow Jesus in loving all life, these ones are liberated from fear, and find themselves free to live a life of faith, hope and love. If you trust the God who made a good world, and so have a sure hope that he will complete the job that he began by raising Jesus from the dead, then you are freed from fear and are able to begin the delightful privilege of learning to love your neighbour and the whole community of creation.
Eight points for guessing the country. Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; X; XI; XII; XIII.


Rachel said...

Byron this post is amazing!

Martin Kemp said...


Anthony Douglas said...

Somebody has to say England, so it might as well be me. It certainly looks very similar to other English trees you've shown us.

byron smith said...

Rachel - glad you liked it. What in particular did you like?

Marty - sorry

Anthony - it might as well be you... *sigh*. At least it saves me having to put another name on the list. I went through a few days in England taking lots of tree silhouettes. I think they're nearly all posted now. Maybe I should have asked something harder like the kind of tree each is, but I'm so arboreally challenged that I wouldn't have much of a clue myself.

Rachel said...

the last para but also the fact that you speak of the emotions involved in this issue that could so easily be sidelined or made the be all and end all of the issue.it is such grounded and truthful Hope that you speak of. i am part of circles who's catch- cry is 'another world is possible' and i wholeheartedly agree with them on this- but for very different reasons.