Fear or Love?

Why do you obey the teachings of God?

The other day, I had the privilege of sharing my faith in the halls of a public high school with a devout Muslim and a former Buddhist-agnostic gay man.

The conversation began with a discussion of why young people seem to be so fragile in today’s society. My coworker and friend, who is a devout Muslim, suggested it was perhaps kids today have rejected the faith of their ancestors.

I asked, “Why do you think that is?” She shared her faith and you could sense the fear. Fear of loosing relationship. Fear of God. Fear of punishment. In essence, if kids were afraid of God they would trust him.

Now, I don’t presume for one second, my friend speaks for all Muslim. She shared her heart. Her testimony was personal and she in no way indicated she spoke for the entire Muslim faith. And quite frankly, her faith sounded like many Christians I know. We tithe out of fear of loosing God’s blessings, we obey out of fear God will separate from us if we don’t. Too many Pastors control their congregations with fear.

Motivated by fear has not proved fruitful for me. I was raised in a “God don’t like ugly and is eager to smite you” faith. But for me, that did not lead to living a holy life. Quite the opposite. It wasn’t until I had a deep revelation of the Father’s love for me that I could live Holy. There is freedom in knowing God will not walk away from me when I mess up. There is a joy in knowing, I can’t mess this up. That freedom and joy led to Holiness and not lasciviousness.

You know the Bible says, our Christian faith is not based on fear of punishment.

“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. We love each other because he loved us first.”  1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭18‬-‭19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It was in realizing I was loved unconditionally that I could truly obey. My obedience is a response to His love not a fight for His love.

So, I ask again, “Why do you obey the teachings of God?” Is it love or fear?

Please don’t take this as a condemnation or a rebuke but as invitation. I invite you to experience the freedom of  his love. I invite you to have a deeper revelation of the love of God. Jesus came so that we would no longer fear punishment but so we could experience freedom – true freedom.

I think my Muslim friend is correct. Perhaps this generation is more fragile because they have no faith to anchor them. But maybe it’s our fault because fear is not a motivator for this generation. Maybe we should focus more on God’s love. Perfect love (He loves us perfectly) casts out all fear.