There is No Fear in Love
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
I have no shame in telling you I grew up as a pretty scared kid.
Ever since I can remember, I was a shy boy who was terrified of being alone in the dark and always wanted my bed in the corner because, for some reason, I felt more safe and secure in the corner of the room. I thought once I grew up those fears and emotions would go away and, like other adults I observed, I would become fearless and handle anything with courage.
Now I’m an adult and nothing has changed. Sure, maybe the same fears I had as a kid aren’t there as much (although my bed is still in the corner!) but new fears and anxieties have replaced them. My anxieties have even reached a point where I’ve taken medication to offset some of the chaos in my mind and heart. I wish an adult would have told me back then I’d still be afraid of things when I got older. Fear is a normal part of being human! All of us have different things we are afraid of. We have been created by God as unique, emotional individuals and have specific stories and feelings that have emerged as part of our journey.
We have been created by God as unique, emotional individuals and have specific stories and feelings that have emerged as part of our journey.
Today, our world is walking through something none of us have experienced before, and it forces us to process a tidal wave of thoughts and emotions:
What if I get this virus? What if someone older in my family contracts it? What if I get laid off? How long will this last? Will life ever be normal again?
Let’s be real…thoughts like these have entered our minds at one point or another. Personally, I am a master of the worse-case-scenario game. It’s easy for my mind to go down that road and build a litany of what if’s. What takes more effort is to replace those what if’s with what is’s. (Sorry, English was never my forte!)
The verse I shared from 1 John 4:18 is such a beautiful reminder of what is. Let’s take another look:
“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.”
As I said, fear is a part of our humanity, and this is a truth John understood. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have addressed it in a letter to the believers he loved so much. This verse is part of a greater theme in the letter where he wants readers to understand God is love.
John actually tells us this in verse 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.”
God is love.
Think about that for a second.
It’s so important for each of us to realize love is not just something God does but something He is. It’s His very nature! We have a personal relationship with a God whose very essence is perfect love. Everything He does comes from a heart of love for us! In Greek the love mentioned here is “agape,” which is the highest and purest form of love. Agape involves sacrifice of self for the needs of others.
We have a personal relationship with a God whose very essence is perfect love.
This verse is more about the beautiful heart of God and His nature of love for us than it is about the shame of fear. John identifies fear to teach us that our God, who laid down His life for us through Jesus Christ, embodies a love with the power to cast out our fears.
We are living in a nation and world paralyzed by fear right now. Some of these fears can overwhelm us and make us feel trapped with very little hope or answers. Whatever you’re facing, know the perfect love of God is here for you in this and every moment! It is a daily discipline for me to bring my fears to the Lord and receive His love. He longs to “perfect” us in His love as we surrender our doubts and fears in this season of unknowns.
Zephaniah 3:17, my favorite Bible verse, speaks to this God of personal love and is so poignant in this time:
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. The Lord will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
This is our God. May His love cast out all fear.