Writing in 1908, GK Chesterton laid bare the soul of modern man: “we have forgotten who and what we are”. The Bible tells us repeatedly that we have an amazing identity, e.g. 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 4 is a very popular passage, not least because many of us are hamstrung in life by myriad fears. It’s good to hear, therefore, that “perfect love casts out fear” (v18). But does that mean that we can all be set free from a fear of flying, of spiders, or of heights? Maybe, but those aren’t the focus of the verse. When we read the entire verse, rather than just the first line, we see that it is specifically the fear of being punished by God that is in view. What God’s love for us does is help us to grasp that God is our Father, not just our Judge. Confirming that reading is the preceding verse – “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world, we are like Jesus.”
We don’t feel that we’re much like Jesus! The truth, however, is that we are becoming more like Him as we allow the Spirit to transform us. And more to the point, we are like Jesus because we too are children of God. We too can call Him Father (Romans 8:14-17). “In this world, we are like Jesus” because the Father loves us just as much as he loves Him. That identity is the basis of our confidence to ask God for things in prayer.
No one was ever adopted by accident. There was a costly and emotional process of preparation, but in the end, adoption required an adult saying to a child, “I choose you.” And, from my observation, those adopted children are then loved as much as those naturally born into that family.
In her song, “Mercy” (Bethel Music 2015), Amanda Cook writes:
“Oh Love, great Love, Fear cannot be found in You, There will never be a day, You’re uncertain of the ones You choose.”
You are, and always will be, a child of God – and He will never regret making that choice to bring you into His family.