This sermon is part of the sermon series "Discovering God (part one)". See series.
God is love. This is the characteristic of God that we will explore today in our Discovering God series. The fact that God is love means that we have been embraced by a personal God and are able to live under his protective custody now and forevermore. If I were to ask you how many of us believe this, I would guess that just about every hand would go up.
Yet there is a huge difference between affirming a truth like "God is love" with our minds and teaching our hearts to live out of this truth. It has been said that the longest distance in the world is that one foot between our head and our heart.
Fear is the greatest impediment to the love of God.
The emotion that most impedes our experience of the love that God has poured out in our hearts is not hate, but fear.
Somehow, I grew up as a fearful child. Transitions around the middle school years were traumatic for me. Going from the familiarity of elementary school to the increased size and diversity of middle school overwhelmed my emotions. I feared failure on many fronts. Whether it was academics, athletics, or simply holding on to friends, I was anxious to the point of worrying myself sick. Fortunately, it was probably these very circumstances that made me open to the message of the good news that God was madly in love with me. I discovered this truth at a weekend church retreat in 7th grade and had an overwhelming encounter with this God of love.
But for whatever reason I was not able to live into this truth. Throughout my teenage years and well into my mid-adult years, I battled with static in my stomach. I often sensed a wall of defensiveness between myself and my environment that said, "This world is not a safe place to be." When I encountered authority figures ...
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