The aim of terrorism is to cause fear, panic and terror. That’s where it gets its name from. Over the past few months, we’ve been learning from the book of Revelation that this world is often frightening, chaotic, messy, senseless. Terrorism is just one expression of evil – a world in rebellion against its loving creator.
So, it has been good to see throughout Revelation as well that there is another perspective. Yes, we see the pain and suffering that evil brings, but the book also points to God’s sovereignty, justice and victory. Its first readers lived in a frightening world too. We’ve seen hints and nods towards that throughout the book. There’s the crushing power of an absolute government which demanded total allegiance including increasingly religious worship towards the emperors. It was a world of rumours and fear, most notably the fear that Nero would return to life and invade at the head of a barbarian army. Yet throughout the book, there is a sense of hope and trust in God. There is the promise that God’s people will overcome. Note that they overcome not through military might but through God’s Word.
Elsewhere, the same John who wrote Revelation writes:
“18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.” (1 John 4:18)
The big answer to our fear is God’s Love. The ultimate fear is of death. This can at times come with a strong superstitious element, after all death is something we have no control over. Again, this is the terrorist’s power – death could come at any moment and we will not be prepared for it. Death holds fear because death is to do with punishment. When we die we will have to stand before God and face his verdict.
28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
That is why perfect love expels fear. We do not have to fear his punishment because Jesus bore it in our place so that we stand forgiven at the cross with full assurance of salvation.
We continue to live in this messy, chaotic world but not in fear because our hope is in God. Jesus goes on to say:
“29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)