Recently I made the decision to sit down in an uncomfortable seat and dine with anxiety and fear. Pushing the comfort-zone as far as possible is an important part of life, and particularly to mine where what I want to do is far out of my reach unless I run to it—through much uncomfortable territory. I found myself realizing I was anxious and fearful, which is a step in the right direction because at least I have the presence of mind to realize my own state of being. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being fearful. That is not the way to live life. That is not the way things ought to be. So, being a problem solver, I got to thinking about what fear is, what drives it, and how can I stop from becoming afraid.
The verse, 1 John 4:18 came to mind: “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.” I started thinking about what that actually means. First off, it tells me that when I experience fear, I am not being motivated by love like love should motivate me. It also says that when doing and being only what is loving—is to be perfect. Several other verses about God and Love came to mind. 1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” The part of the verse that really came to mind was “God is love.” The other verse that came to mind was 1 John 4:19, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
It was a confrontational thought, because being fearful means I don’t know how to or am not being loving, and that means that I don’t know God, at least not completely. It also means that God is not abiding in me as He should—because I am separating myself from Him.
So, fear is being unloving and stepping away from God. But, what to do? Where was I going wrong? In what way was I not being loving. I believe verse 17 clarifies and ties together the point in verses 16, 18, and 19. Verse 17 says, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” In verse seventeen where it says “by this is love perfected,” is referring to God’s perfect love. Remember, we love because He first loved us. We can love because we know that God loves us perfectly even when we don’t love perfectly.
When fear starts creeping in, rather than think about punishment—embarrassment, getting fired, and so on—I should realize that God loves me perfectly. That should give us such confidence that we don’t have to fear. Why be afraid, when in the presence of the mighty and wonderful God and creator of existence I am loved.
Perfect love does cast out fear, but not my love, and not any person’s love. The perfect love that casts out fear is God’s love for me, God’s love for you.
This makes perfect sense right? Does a child feel fearful when held in the arms of a loving father or mother? No! God is an all-good, perfectly loving father. His perfect love casts out fear.