The bearer of Good News, the one who carries the message of Resurrection, is not motivated by fear of punishment (either for herself or others) but by confidence in her experience of the love of God. She knows God's love is greater than anything in herself or in her hearers; that Jesus can conquer anything in them that is not controlled by holy love.
"Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love." 1 John 4:18
God's love has the final word, for Jesus has conquered the sin of the whole world and has defeated the grave. Christ's best messengers know this love by its all-consuming redemptive activity in themselves and confidently carry this love to others, without fear.
I have little confidence in universal human capacities to save or fix the world but I do believe there's a new humanity revealed in Jesus Christ that is capable of redeeming Creation, of making all things new. By grace we have become members of his body, partakers of his divine nature, and made participants in this cosmic renewal.
A New Creation is coming. The New Adam names his church "flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone" and sends this blessing upon her: "Fear not ... I have overcome the world."
The sacrifice of this God, the death of Jesus for all persons and the creation, binds us to God, binds us closely to Christ's life. We honor and remember the life Jesus would have otherwise lived because he now lives on in a real sense as us and we live on in a real sense as him (Frederick Buechner).
Living like this — in response to the Cross, rather than in reaction to it—takes the focus off *how* we are living (sin consciousness) and puts it on living the life of Christ as a continuation of *his* life in the world, literally "as his body."
When we live the life of Christ for the life of the world the *how* of our life becomes a natural extension of Christ's energies (divine and human) and we learn to live and love without fear.
How easily the enemy of our souls paralyzes us with guilt. The dark powers know that if we were actually to live in *response* to the sacrifice of God, if we were to live as Jesus would choose to live his life because he truly does live on in us and we in him, it would be "game over" for all that besets and binds us, the end of all fears that shackle the world.
The Rev. Kenneth Tanner is pastor of Church of the Holy Redeemer in Rochester Hills, Mich. Follow him on Twitter: @kennethtanner.
Image: Sketch of God and Adam's hands, aleisha / Shutterstock.com
Got something to say about what you're reading? We value your feedback!