“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19
What are you afraid of?
There’re lots of things to be afraid of. Getting hurt, being alone, losing loved ones, not being financially secure, being surrounded by danger, getting old, and dying. Just to name a few. Psychology text books list scores of conditions in which people experience fears at irrational levels. We call these phobias because all the official names of these irrational fear conditions end with the suffix “-phobia”.
A common phobia is the fear of heights. I have several friends with this phobia and sometimes it’s a little funny to witness their anxiety when I or someone else has to work at anything even approaching a slightly elevated level.
Now I confess that I have some fear of heights but it’s not actually the height that I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of the danger, the very real risk of injury, should I fall. Give me a safety line or anything else that will give even a little assurance that the danger of falling is removed and I become confident even at significant heights.
The apostle John associates our failure to love one another as Christ loves us with the presence of fear in our lives. It’s a profound observation since we wouldn’t usually consider any demonstration of love to be something to be afraid of. And probably, most of the time, we’re not afraid of doing the loving thing. It’s other things near, surrounding, or attached to the loving thing that we’re afraid of and since doing the loving thing would bring us too close to the scary thing we don’t do the loving thing.
So many of us live in the darkness of a love starved life because the light bulb of loving kindness is burnt out. We have other bulbs, some of them are brighter and longer lasting than the one that’s burnt out but we live in darkness because we’re too afraid to climb the ladder to put in the new bulb.
Whatever you’re afraid of, whether it’s confessing a wrong so you can set something right, or perhaps admitting a weakness and asking for help, it’s time to let God’s love free you to live a life of love. Your fears might even be reasonable, some things and places are dangerous, but if we’re going to love like Christ did we have to give the fear to God and do the loving thing.
And perfect love casts out fear. And it’s not just the assurance of being loved by God that frees us from fear. God’s love gives us confidence in spite of our fears. Having the love of Christ flowing through the things we do and the words we say completes the cure and drives our fears away.