Fear that motivates and fear that paralyses. Stephen O’Doherty breaks down how perfect love is the antidote to these conditions.


Stephen O'Doherty is a former Australian Politician and radio presenter on Hope 103.2 in Sydney.

Today's reading is 2 Peter 1:2-15


As I reflect on the theme of this Advent series, fear not, I am struck by how often we are either motivated or paralysed by fear. 

Is it fear that drives us to gather only with people whose ideas reinforce our own, whose life experiences or self-identification do not challenge ours?  

Is it fear that leads us to reject or despise the outsider, the other? The dispossessed? The asylum seeker? Those alienated from their inherent dignity by abuse, poverty and injustice?  

Is it fear that drives tribalism in the community and factionalism in politics, repelling a consensus-seeking approach?

If perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18) then what attracts or gives rise to fear? The opposite of love is hate, so is fear driven by hate? Perhaps. But the perfect love that drives out fear is born out of knowledge, not emotion.

To love perfectly is to know that you are known by God.

It is the knowledge that I am perfectly loved that drives out fear. The deep understanding that I am made perfect in Christ and that nothing, no-one, can take that away. And that His love was poured out for everybody.  

As Peter writes (2 Peter 1:2-15) our knowledge of the full implications of Jesus’ sacrifice brings everything we need for a Godly life. No room for hatred, other-ism, tribalism or judgementalism here. We move forward in love – not backwards in fear!

The life of faith is one of addition (not subtraction). Goodness adds to faith. Knowledge is added to goodness. (v 5). I know how to love because I know I am loved. My fear of others is driven out when I remember that Christ died for all.

The season of Advent reminds us of this most profound truth: that in Jesus God humbled himself to participate in human nature, so that being redeemed, we can be part of God’s ongoing plan of redemption. We participate in the divine nature (v 4). Wow!

I feel very inadequate for such a task. But at the same time these verses comfort me. The Christian life is one of striving to get it right, while knowing that in Christ God has made it possible for us to be part of the victory. I just need to keep working at it.

2 Peter 1:2-15

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Growing in Faith

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Paying Attention to Scripture

12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. 14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.

Fear Not: An Advent series from Common Grace

This series has been produced by Common Grace,
with support from Christian Super.