There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.—1 John 4:18
The italicized quotes are from a blog post by Tullian Tchividjian that you can read here.
To be born again is to stand confidently before God knowing He holds nothing against you, finds no fault in you, loves you as His own, and is looking forward to spending eternity with you in Heaven. When Jesus Christ is truly your Savior you find your identity in the forgiveness, justification, and righteousness He has freely given to you through your faith in His life, crucifixion and resurrection. The born again understand their sinful nature, the depth of their sin and their need for forgiveness through Christ. In Christ the struggle to prove yourself to anyone or anything is over because Christ has made you worthy before the only true and eternal God.
The gospel doxologically declares that because of Christ’s finished work for you, you already have all of the justification, approval, security, love, worth, meaning, and rescue you long for and look for in a thousand different people and places smaller than Jesus.
One place we Americans often try to find our identity and our self-worth is sports. We think if we were just a little better, became a starter, or won the championship we’d be more important and valuable in life. We falsely believe that God will care about us more if we are successful as an athlete or coach. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Because Jesus was strong for you, you’re free to be weak; Because Jesus was Someone, you’re free to be no one; Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary; Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail. Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose.
In Christ there is no fear of judgment from God because Christ’s perfect love has cast out our need to earn approval from God. That’s what 1 John 4:18 is all about: living without fear of judgment knowing you are truly and fully acceptable to God in every way possible through faith in Christ.
In Christ it doesn’t matter what your 40 time is or what your win loss record is or how many rebounds you had last season. The only thing that matters is your faith in Christ.
Some might ask, “But doesn’t this concept bread laziness and a ‘who cares?’ mentality?” No. Not even close.
Because everything we need in Christ we already possess, we can take great risks, push harder, go farther, and leave it all on the field without fear. We can invest with reckless abandon because we don’t need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval. We can invest freely and forcefully because we’ve been freely and forcefully invested in.
As Christians we can compete completely free from fear of failure of because failing cannot impact our Salvation or our identity or our worth. This freedom from fear gives us the joy of competing for God’s glory rather than trying to prove ourselves every time we step into the arena of competition. God’s glory can truly become our only ambition because we have nothing to lose.
When you don’t have anything to lose, you discover something wonderful: you’re free to take great risks without fear or reservation.
With God’s glory as your only ambition what goals are you going to pursue knowing you are free from the fear of failure and God’s judgment?