I just started reading “He loves me!” by Wayne Jacobsen. In the third chapter he brings up the question of what motivates us to follow Jesus – fear of hell or love for God. Unfortunately, it is true that there are many people who believe that a clearer vision of hell would motivate us to be more mission-minded. In the past this approach to evangelism has probably worked fine. But it is a pertinent question what kind of Christian this approach will produce when their conversion happens out of fear of hell.
When I thought back of my own conversion experience, I realized that fear of hell was not a major factor, but fear to miss out on something important all the more. This was partly rooted in the drawing that the evangelist showed me (which I found very helpful and have often used myself) – the broad road leading away from God, no matter whether it is paved with small or big sins, on the other side the narrow road that leads to God, and the door that connects the two roads – Jesus, the door to eternal life. At that time it really seemed to me as if this doorframe was throwing its shadow on my path, inviting me to change my direction of life. A unique chance? Maybe. Nobody can know when there will be another situation where God speaks into our lives and touches our hearts.
Unfortunately, I also realized that, there is a pattern in my life. I had to admit that there are things in my life that are often motivated by fear to miss out on something. Who knows when I will get this opportunity again? In this way, I often cram things into my life, that are not beneficial and are causing needless stress. But one does not want to miss out on things, right?
Along a similar line was the fear to miss God’s will for my life – if I don’t listen well enough, I might miss it and then take the wrong path. Then I might have to travel on the wrong track for the rest of my life and would miss God’s blessings and the fullness of life. <ironic>
When I think about it, I realize that these patterns of thought are – or better – were in my life. I notice that they don’t quite fit with how I experienced God during the last few years. Of course, there are situations were we might miss something important because we can’t make up our minds or we procrastinate a decision. But God does not motivate us through fear. Through the Life Model I became more aware over the last two years about the difference between love-based and fear-based relationships. As a result this kind of situation happens less and I am thankful for it.
What can I learn from this? Wherever my motivation is rooted in fear, most likely it does not come from my heavenly Daddy. I want to learn to be even more sensitive to this and realize earlier when I am driven by fear instead of motivated by love (which reminds me of the book “Getrieben oder Berufen” meaning “Driven or Called” which is the German title for “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald).
God is not interested in our sacrifices but in our obedience, one out of love, for who he is, out of joy over our relationship with him, and because this relationship is precious to us.