Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 22, Issue 5 February 19, 2012
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
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. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” I John 4
In Dr. Henry Brandt's helpful book “The Struggle for Peace”, he tells of a woman who came to him because of a great fear she had of going into supermarkets. She came to him for help in this problem, and he relied, as he always does, on the wisdom of Scripture. Remembering the verse “Perfect love drives out fear”, I John 4:18b, he began to look for a violation of love in her life, for fear comes when there is something inhibiting the flow of love. He said to her, “With whom are you angry?”
Finally she realized that she was angry at her husband for an incident that had occurred a number of years before in a supermarket when they had had an unpleasant flare-up. As a result, she was emotionally disturbed whenever she went into a supermarket.
When she dealt with her lack of love, her fear left.
Her anger toward him, reflected right back on herself.
Various spiritual teachings say that there are only two fundamental emotions: love and fear. For the body, this is true. All mammals, including humans, have two opposing hormonal responses to stimuli.
Threatening stimuli cause an increase of stress hormones - adrenaline and cortisol.
A sudden threat triggers the fight-or-flight response associated with adrenaline.
Adrenaline steps up heart rate, increases respiration, activates muscles and promotes hyper-alertness.
Longer-term stress, increases a different stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol’s evolutionary functions are quite different than the temporary jolt of adrenaline designed to propel us out of danger.
The stress encountered by mammals - and our hunter-gatherer ancestors - was chiefly physical, not emotional.
The most common physical stressors were probably starvation, long migrations and critical injury. To cope with such emergencies, cortisol begins to break down non-essential organs and tissues to maintain blood sugar and feed vital organs.
When cortisol stays at high levels, it automatically digests bones, muscles and joints to obtain these key nutrients. The result is elevated blood fats and sugar, which are related to many disorders.
Another side effect is hunger — Cortisol makes us reach for high-calorie foods.
Today our biggest long-term stressors are emotional and mental, not physical.
We face threats in the form of potential job loss, the pressure of commuting in heavy traffic, a daily barrage of fear-producing media, relationship disharmony in a marriage, etc.
Even though these are not physical threats, our body has only one automatic response and that is to produce more cortisol.
Please understand that Cortisol is very hard on the body.
The cortisol hormone serves many important functions in the body such as regulating blood sugar and blood pressure and providing energy for exercise and activity.
When your body is stressed, either physically or emotionally, it secretes cortisol. Cortisol increases the flow of glucose (as well as protein and fat) from your tissues and into the bloodstream to increase energy and physical readiness to handle the stressful situation or threat.
The problem is we often deal with stress mentally, and seldom if ever respond to stress with physical activity that would burn the extra energy provided by the cortisol surge.
Whether your stress was emotional or physical, the stress response is identical, causing a spike in your appetite. This can cause a craving for comfort foods - foods high in fat and sugar
Praise God, we have a built-in mechanism for countering stress. It entails another hormone, called oxytocin. And although the anti stress effects of oxytocin is a recent discovery, God spoke of it 2000 years ago.
I truly believe that “Disease” should be reclassified as “Dis - Ease” , a state in which the body is not in it’s natural state of biological ‘ease’.
Nearly all the negative effects of continued stress on the body and mind are related to elevated levels of cortisol.
- chronic anxiety and depression
- emotional over-reaction
- weight gain
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- weakened immunity
Numerous activities produce more oxytocin: meditation, yoga, exercise, massage, caring for a pet, joining a support group, worshiping and so forth.
Yet one of the most important avenues for decreasing stress and increasing levels of oxytocin lies in our intimate relationships.
Love and intimacy are such powerful promoters of health that if they were produced in pill form, doctors who failed to prescribe them for unhealthy patients would be guilty of malpractice.
The primary conscious behavior or thought process that increases oxytocin is caring for another.
Appreciation, generous touch, gratitude, and emotional connections with others also raise oxytocin levels.
We see one of oxytocin's most powerful effects at birth - when the mother and father bond with their child.
At that moment, oxytocin surges causes a rewiring of both parents' brains so that they will do anything for their little screaming creature. Under ordinary circumstances they remain permanently in love.
We all form similar connections with friends, family, pets, even God. And the benefits to us of these deep connections are great.
Oxytocin is the reason why people with pets tend to recover more quickly from illness, why married people tend to live longer, why support groups benefit those with cancer, addictions and chronic disorders and why care-giving parents, whether male or female, live longer than the non-care-giving parents.
You may wonder why we can’t just take oxytocin pills to increase levels of this helpful hormone. Good Question!
Unfortunately, oxytocin doesn’t cross the body’s “blood/brain barrier,” except in the form of nasal sprays. How-ever, long-term administration of oxytocin via spray has resulted in amnesia, hallucinations and imbalances in electrolytes and hormones.
To gain its benefits, we must produce it naturally in the brain. We produce it naturally when we love, are loved, nurture another, give selflessly, or engage in affectionate touch.
Oxytocin equates with love; we could not fall in love without it.
Cortisol equates with fear.
By the way, oxytocin is a very unique neurochemical; the more oxytocin we make, the stronger our body and mind respond to it.
Our nerve cells actually sprout more oxytocin receptors, making them more sensitive to its effects. It grows easier and easier to be loving.
In other words…..
Love tends to breed more love, and fear tends to breed more fear.
Is it any wonder God tells us in I John 3:11 “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Know Love – No Fear!
Isaiah 26:3-4 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”
Unfortunately there is a BIG difference between what we believe and how we feel and think.
Perfect Peace includes: mind, emotions, will, body, relationships and circumstances.
Physical Signs of Chronic Stress
- Joint pain, Muscle weakness, Chronic fatigue, Obesity, Digestive problems, Excess belly fat
- Nervousness, Anxiety, Depression, Feeling loss of control, Irritability, Craving carbohydrates
- Illness after finals or completing a stressful project, Get sick when you go on vacation
- Mental preoccupation with a stressful event
- Emotional over-eaters.
- Women tend to overeat during times of stress to ease or lessen their emotional pain and misery.
I John 4:18 “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…..Such love has no fear, Because perfect love expels all fear.”
We have discovered today that fear comes when there is something inhibiting the flow of love. We also learned that fear releases cortisol which is very hard on our bodies.
We also learned that Perfect Love casts out all fear!
So if you are stressed or fearful I need to ask you, “Who are you angry with?”
PLEASE ask God to show you where you have violated LOVE in your life.
Then repent and fall freshly in love with God and His children.