A version of this piece originally appeared on Real Life Becca.
“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.
This year, I see it in a new light. As I read 1 John in its entirety, a pattern emerges in John’s letter. We see John discussing:
light vs. darkness
the Father vs. the world
righteousness vs. sin
and in 1 John 4:
love vs. fear and hate
Just as the first three on the list cannot coexist, love cannot share the same space as fear and hate. Obviously, hate and love are mutually exclusive. But, what about fear and love? Hate and love both involve strong emotion, action, and/or resolve. Fear, on the other hand, shows itself as we run or limp away from Christ and others. Hate fights. Fear hides. Hate focuses on the source of pain. Fear focuses on how I could get hurt or feel guilty.
Fear is selfish.
I cannot love you if I fear that you will hurt me. That fear causes me to look to my own interests instead of yours.
I cannot love you if I am afraid of hurting you; I will run away, and you will be found wanting.
I cannot love you if I fear others’ perceptions. Our relationship will be about their opinions and not about your heart.
As a matter of fact, I cannot love you on my own accord. I’m afraid you’ll hurt me, I’m afraid I’ll hurt you, and I’m afraid of what everyone will say about it.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7-12
Let us love first, instead of waiting for another to initiate. Let us love confidently, knowing that we are deeply, passionately loved. Let us love recklessly, like our God who left paradise and wrapped himself in humanity to conquer our depravity.
Let us love courageously; perfect love drives out fear.