Love is Scary… – Jeremy Austill

Personal confession: I am a recovering control freak. By recovering I mean I’m in process. I can’t stand riding in the car with someone. I want to be the one driving because I don’t want to put my life in other people’s hands. In most areas of life I am relatively relaxed and don’t encroach on others with my control freak tendencies. However, when something matters a great deal to me, I will drive someone crazy making sure they do it the way I want it done. I prefer to be the one handling the television remote control. I am pretty terrible at teaching my kids basic life skills like tying shoes because I just want to do it for them to make sure it is done correctly and quickly. When assembling Legos with my son I pretty much don’t let him do anything because I want it to be done a certain way, explicitly following the instructions. So yes, as I said, I am a recovering control freak. Welcome to life with me…feel free to pray for my family.

The reason love is so scary for many is it causes us to lose control. To love another is to put a measure of trust and hope in the person, exposing us to potential pain and disappointment. To love is to risk everything…to take your hands off the wheel, remote, shoe strings and yes, even the Legos. You may think you know where I am going with this…to love Jesus is to lose control. I say an unequivocal YES to that fundamental truth. However, as someone who preaches the Gospel I have found my control issues and challenges with the danger of love have been a pervasive antagonist.

Why is there a tension when someone talks and preaches heavily on the wild, abandoned love of God? There is often a compulsion in the atmosphere to even things out. Through the years I have found myself ever sensing the pressure to balance out the love of God with expectations of holiness. On some level, I am sure that is good theology and wisdom/balance. However, it is also another indicator of the unnerving capabilities of love. To lavishly preach of the goodness and love of God is to lose control. If you were to categorize my sermon index through the years I believe you would find the largest column would fit under the heading “Behavior Modification”. My tendency to want to control, through the years, has often led me to preach in a manner which downplayed the love of God in exchange for a focus on our responsibilities. Behave in this way and good things will happen and bad things won’t happen. That’s not to say behavior lacks importance. Kingdom principles are effective. Nor is it to say I didn’t regularly declare how much God loved people, I was just prone to counterbalance it to make sure people didn’t get the idea they could behave however they wanted to behave. Again, probably good theology and wisdom. Yet the tension remained…the hesitance of going unabashed in the direction of love always seemed to halt my heart just short.

In recent years I have discerned a great truth in my personal life which has brought liberty and a greater dimension of freedom from sin. The legitimate revelation of the love of God is the ultimate catalyst for faithfulness and godliness in the universe. Fear begets sin. Control begets sin. To a degree, an overt emphasis on behavior begets sin. Sure, there are plenty who preach love as a license to deviance. Yet we have to make the determination, will I allow illegitimate ideas to highjack a powerful, life altering truth? To preach with regularity the magnificent love of God revealed through Jesus, the sonship into which we have been adopted and the patience of God is to take people out of my own hands…to lose control…and hand them over to the only hands able to keep them from falling. That doesn’t sound very scary…

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