“I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you.” Don’t be afraid, Jacob, you worm. You people of Israel, I will help you.” declares the Lord, your Defender, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14, GW
Where there is no hell, we will not long for heaven. Our longing for heaven is the expression of our hunger for the love that lies deep within our hearts. Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in God.1 When for me to live is everything else but God, death will be hell when I die and lose everything that is dear to me. It is only when for me to live is Christ, that to die is gain.2
Pseudo-evangelism, according to Oswald Chambers, makes an enormous blunder when it insists on conviction of sin as the first step to Jesus Christ.3 Evangelism is sharing the love of God that is revealed by Jesus Christ. Jesus came to restore our identity as the children of God. Love sees the horror of sin that keeps us from the love of God. Fear blinds us to the love of God as His children:
‘See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.”4
We are to love God not because we are afraid of going to hell but in response to His amazing love that is revealed by the cross of Christ. In fact, we are living in hell on earth when we are living without God. That is why we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.5
The story of the Jews is a revelation of how terrible they can be even after they had been chosen to be a people filled with the wonder of God and to live in the Kingdom of God here and now. In a time when they felt God’s wrath and judgment for their sins, God gave them His message of comforting love:
“I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you.” Don’t be afraid, Jacob, you worm. You people of Israel, I will help you.” declares the Lord, your Defender, the Holy One of Israel.”6
It is only with God’s love, revealed by the cross of Christ, that we can see our new identity as the children of God. Love sees the truth of God’s judgment. Fear blinds us to God’s love. Love sees God’s discipline. Fear fills us with the fear of God’s punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn us for rebellion but to redeem us from our slavery to sin that keeps us in rebellion. It is only when we are abiding in God’s love that we can love and not fear God’s commandments. And we have the wonderful promise that God holds our right hand with His right hand.
We cannot see God when we “tie God up in His laws and in denominational doctrines and orders of services.”7 We need to see the Bible as an invitation to see with a new set of eyes instead of making the Bible into “a bunch of ideas – about which we can be right or wrong.”8
Without love, we feel like a lowly worm or a fragile insect.9 But with God’s love, we can see ourselves as a caterpillar that will be transformed into a butterfly. In the meantime, we can dance with God for He holds our right hand with His right Hand as we sing:
“The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.”10
Lord, lead me with Your chains of Love so that I will be driven by my fears.
1 What are the fears that blind me to the blessings of God?
2 How can I see God’s extraordinary love in the ordinary events of my life? 3 How can I live with a sense of wonder of being in God’s Kingdom?
1. St Augustine’s Confessions
2. Philippians 1:21, NKJV
3. Oswald Chambers, Hope, A Holy Promise devotional, day 13
4. 1 John 3:1, NLT
5. Matthew 5:6, 9-10
6. Isaiah 41: 13-14, GW
7. Oswald Chambers, Hope, A Holy Promise devotional, day 14
8. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, June 30th 2022
9. Isaiah 41:14, MSG
10. The Love Of God, Frederick M. Lehman