It has been some years now, but I can remember one summer day, standing in line at a major theme park with my nephew, as we waited to buy our tickets to ride the park’s latest tall coaster. This ride had been publicized for months as the tallest and fastest roller-coaster in the world, and we could not wait to ride it! The two of us were thrill-seekers and bantered back and forth for the entire ride in the car, and now here we were, just moments away from experiencing the thrill of our lives!
Because this was the coaster’s debut, the line was long, so long in fact that when we first entered the line, we could not even see the ride. As the line moved along, the coaster’s massive structure revealed more and more of itself the closer we came to the entry point. Words could not possibly express the excitement and anticipation that was running through me as I now could hear the screams of the current riders as they were coming to a sudden stop! All my senses were activated, and I knew this was my moment. The time had come, and I was ready to go!
On the flip side, this was not the case for my 13 year-old nephew. He was terrified! He was so terrified, in fact, that he tried to turn around in the line and go back to the entrance. However, it was too late; it was his turn to enter onto the ride. Yet, he was full of fear.
“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:17-18
The apostle John writes about a time in the future called the “day of judgment.” It is a time when we will stand before the Lord. The question to us is, will we stand before Him in “confidence,” or like my nephew, will we tremble in “fear?”
John says that “perfect [or complete] love casts out fear.” What he is alluding to is the fact that Jesus’ love for us was complete, and that His substitutionary death on the cross for the penalty our sins was sufficient and final. There is no need for us to worry or live in fear of punishment on the day of judgment if we have placed our lives in Jesus’ hands. John tells us that “whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In other words, if fear of judgment haunts us, then maybe we have never come to God in repentance and asked Him to forgive us of our sin.
With the work of Calvary finished, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and “as He is so also are we in this world.” Knowing that His love was made perfect, we too can stand before Him on that day, not with the fear of punishment, but with perfect confidence that His love for us was perfected in His sacrifice.