Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Living unafraid

I’VE NEVER BEEN much of a “guy’s guy.” I have zero interest in cars (I believe that ours may be white), and I loathe fishing with a passion. Golf, I suspect, was invented as some sort of punishment. I have spent some time in the gym, but not enough to notice; I’m still more like one of the “before” photos in the workout ads.

And yet there have been times when my outwardly slight presence has been enough to make an impact. One of my sons remembers the time I stepped in to face down some angry, brawny rugby players who were using some ripe language in front of him; the fact that I’d inadvertently prompted the outburst didn’t stop me from lecturing them.

Then there was my daughter’s list of things she was grateful to me for, given at a decade-turning birthday celebration of mine: the one item that moved me to tears was her remark that, as a child, she had never been afraid when I was near.

Now, I certainly tried hard to be a good dad, but I made more than my fair share of mistakes. There has been a need for some tears and forgiveness, which I’m grateful my kids have extended. But I am struck how, despite my feebleness, fallenness and failures, there was enough about my fatherhood to make my children feel safe when I was around.

If our earthly relationships can be a shadow of the one God wants to have with us, how much more might we find security and protection in God as our perfect Father? How might your life be different if you were never afraid because you knew your heavenly Father was near?

You go into that uncertain medical appointment without shaky nerves, because the Father is near. You face that economic crisis or job loss without trepidation, because the Father is near. You step into that awkward relational problem ignoring the difficulty, because the Father is near.

This isn’t just fanciful, but what God actually wants for us as we come to know Him more as Father. Though as followers of Jesus we call ourselves “Christians,” this isn’t really very biblical. In fact, the word appears only once in the Bible, in the 11th chapter of Acts. Even then, it’s not God speaking. It’s Luke reporting how it was in the early days of the church in Antioch that followers of Jesus were first referred to as “Christians” by others.

No, according to Scripture, in many passages, our true and core foundation is ultimately as children of the Father in heaven. The apostle John speaks about this at length in his first epistle, when he reflects on how God’s ultimate nature is love. And in 4:18 he says this: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

When we are secure in the perfect love of God the Father who is always near, we can live unafraid. How might you live differently, fearlessly— not foolishly—in the security and certainty of this truth?

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