He Loved You First

1 John 4:17-21 
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
I just did a google search for the greatest fears that people have today. I know this isn’t the most scientific way of doing it, but its all I had! There are a lot of things that we are afraid of! Spiders, snakes and bugs were on many of the lists! Public speaking and crowds were there too. A lot of them had the fear of falling or flying. But one fear that was on most of the lists and one of the most debilitating is the fear of rejection. Almost all of us can relate to this one. We replay conversations over and over in our mind wishing we could take some of those words back and wondering what the other person thinks of us now. We keep to ourselves or to people we are comfortable with rather than risking interaction with someone who might reject us. I watched one person who was so nervous but wanted to give a gospel tract at a McDonald’s drive through. By the time he worked up the courage he threw it the tract through the window when the person wasn’t looking and drove off, forgetting to get their food! We like to ask the question “But what if…”! But what if they think I am strange? But what if they laugh at me? But what if I am not good enough for them!?
Many don’t go to church because of these questions. But what if I’m not dressed right? But what if I don’t look or talk like them? But what if I don’t know the songs? But what if they see that I don’t have anything to go in the offering plate? But what if I just don’t fit in? And why do they ask these questions? Because many of them have been rejected at churches and they just can’t face that again. If they aren’t good enough for God’s people then what hope do they have when faced with God himself? If that is you today I want to give you some encouragement. I have been in church for many years, most of this time serving in the ministry and I can attest to the fact that all of us, even the people sitting in the pews, are struggling. Some of us with plastic faces just trying to fit in because we are so afraid if we let our cracks show – we will be rejected. I know I struggle here and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.
So where is the encouragement I promised? It is in verse 19 of our text today, as a matter of fact really in the last 5 words of this verse, “because He first loved us”. Why can we come before God and cry out to Him for salvation? Because He loved you first! Why can you come boldly before God in prayer? Because He loved you first! Why can we as Christians stand before God in the judgement that is to come? Because He loved you first! This love casts out fear of rejection, the torment that our hearts go through as we ask “but what if…”. This love draws us to love Him, and if we truly love Him then we will love those He loves as well! There is freedom in the realization that there is nothing I can do to make God love me because He loved me first! 
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ may we consider this truth. God loved me first, and because of His love that was demonstrated on the cross we can come to Him and know that He will not turn us away! May we learn to do that the next time someone walks in our church who looks different than we do as we demonstrate His love for them though our lives!