‘It is far safer to be feared than loved’ says the Prince in Machiavelli’s infamous book (not that I have read it).
Jesus says ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ (Matt 12:31 NIVUK). Jesus says ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command… This is my command: love each other.’ (John 15:13,14,17)
John says: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’ (1 John 4:18)
With worldly eyes, what the Prince says might sound like wisdom, a way to get ahead in life. With eyes changed by grace, suddenly the Prince just sounds a bit pathetic; a coward. When we cling to the cross, when we walk with the Saviour, one step at a time, not only do we not look down on those who suffer thinking ‘rather you than me, chum’, not only do we think, ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’, but ‘here, with the grace of God, I go’.
Suddenly the King of Kings says we don’t have to worry about being small or afraid or worthless (and making other people afraid of you is only something you do if you can’t find value in yourself any other way). No, we don’t have to worry any more because ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9. I don’t need anyone to be afraid of me, and I don’t need to be afraid, because I’m already safe; I’m loved by the King 🙂