When Love Changes Us | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2018

When Love Changes Us

By Olivia Richardson

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.

1 John 4:18a (NIV)

The answer to the problem of our crippling fears, the ones that stop us from risking and blind us to opportunities, is so simple, “perfect love.” But even while those words are so simple, just three syllables, their weight is enormous. What does it actually look like for perfect love to drive out fear in our own lives?

The only place to get perfect love is from Jesus. He loves us so beautifully that he stooped from the royal realms of heaven to the damaged earth to get close to His children and to rescue them. That kind of love is powerful, it is chain-breaking, it is life-giving, it is soul-redeeming and it is for us.

I can’t pretend to know the full extent of what it would mean if we clung to this truth, that perfect love drives out fear. But, I think that if we lived by realizing that we are offered that perfect love at every moment, it could be our anchor in hope; our catalyst to change how we live our lives and how we bring the Kingdom of God near.

What if we lived and acted more out of love than fear? What if we were unconcerned about self-preservation and our pride and were all-consumed with love like Jesus? What if we weren’t controlled by fear that prevents us from speaking truth? What if we were not afraid of other people, the possibility of rejection, or the pain that can come from emotional connection, and just loved wildly? What if we were so confident in our identity as God’s beloved that we didn’t have to worry about how much people love us and could just be concerned with how well we are loving them? What if we didn’t fear sacrifice and just loved like crazy?

Living and Loving like that would literally change the world.

Maybe living like that starts with investing in a person who requires work to care for. Maybe it is being willing to have those hard conversations and practice caring even through the haze of disagreement. Maybe it is early mornings and late nights spending your time for the people around you. Maybe it is giving grace and throwing that chip off your shoulder because you know that it doesn’t matter if that person is sorry, because you are already loved more than enough. Maybe it is richly loving an enemy, beyond what makes sense to anyone in this world; because you are drawing from a rich well of love continually poured onto by your Creator who calls you “beloved.”

  • What does living loved look like for you today?

  • Try to narrow in on what particular fear is holding your back. Sometimes it's hard to tell that fear is the culprit of what is weighing us down. How does knowing you are loved like crazy by the King of Kings change the way you look at what you are afraid of?

  • How does/should knowing that you are perfectly loved by God change how you interact with others?

  • How does/should knowing that you are perfectly loved by God change how you think about yourself, your dreams, and your life?

Today, say to your fear, “You have no chance against the perfect love of my God. You look so incredibly weak & insignificant next to my God’s infinite passion & love for me. You can’t hold me back.”

Olivia Richardson is from Jamestown New York, but is currently a senior at Houghton College where she is a double major in Inclusive Adolescents Education and English with a minor in Bible. She hopes to become a teacher who is a caring servant, helps her students pursue wonder, and shows them the love of Jesus. Olivia grew up with her whole family being active in her home church, Bemus Point United Methodist Church, where her passion for Jesus and grew as she was encouraged and challenged to love God and love all of God’s people. Olivia enjoys reading, writing, playing music and leading worship, and staying active. Olivia also loves her family and friends, her fiancé , lakes, avocados, and all four seasons (even the western NY snow). You can follow her blog at https://rootsandfruitssite.wordpress.com/.