Motives are the determining factor in John’s letter. If our concept of God is that of a tyrant who can crush us at any time, then our faith in Him is fear-driven. It’s also a distorted view of God. The question would be, how did we get there? Why do we picture God as a tyrant?
Distorted views of God were probably passed on to us. Distortion always happens the moment we take our eyes off of the original and instead create a counterfeit to replace the original. The result is always scary. In the books of the Old Testament we read about idol worship where people create molten images, which they present to the world as their god. People don’t change. Idol worship is still a problem these days. We create distorted images of God, images that don’t represent Him but rather a quite different persona, Mr. Lucifer aka Satan.
If we know that God is love, then we don’t fear Him, and we don’t misunderstand Him as a disengaged and heartless ruler of the universe. We also don’t dismiss Him as a fairy tale. God is not dead, He is very much alive. Not a day goes by without the Holy Spirit knocking on a human heart’s door. However, God’s counterfeit is doing the same. There is a lot of activity going on between heaven and earth, and we’re right smack in the middle of this drama, like it or not. We can’t be neutral, we have to take sides, and we better know whose side we’re on. That’s the bottom line. Life is a battle. We all need God to wage a successful war. Know that this battle happens all over the world, and that everyone faces the enemy of the human soul, one way or another. Peter writes about this situation in one of his letters:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
If we understand God to be the man upstairs who is not interested in us personally, most likely we get that image from an absentee father or in a corporate setting a boss who is not interested in his employees. If we understand God to be cruel, a tyrant who demands things to be done His way, then most likely we have experienced problems with a number of authority figures in our lives. All these things describe Satan very well, but are a far cry from the Trinity who is by nature engaged, self-sacrificing, willing to go the extra mile to redeem a situation heading for disaster, who picks up the pieces and starts over, who exhibits all the signs that we usually see in a person who loves us.
At the end of the year we are heading into a celebratory season. Nearly a third of the world population celebrates the arrival of God’s Son, the Savior of the world, Jesus. Let’s cling to the One who is for us, who loves us dearly, who saves us. He is the best news in the history of mankind. He is the hope of all nations, and He can be your hope and mine.
“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.” Martin Luther