Fear Not

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.”—1 John 4:18

When we think of the opposite of love, we almost always think of hate. It seems to be embedded in our social DNA. Recently, I have come to think of this in a different way. I was reading a book recently by Benjamin Corey called Unafraid. In the book, Corey writes,

… when the Bible describes the opposite of love, it doesn’t describe hate. The Bible says that the opposite of love is actually fear—meaning where there is love there cannot be fear. They are adversaries.[1]

Reading the text above from 1 John 4 makes the idea pretty clear. The writer says love and fear are at odds with each other, that love drives fear away, that the mature person is not a person of fear. If we look too at the life of Jesus, when he was acting in perfect love he wasn’t acting in a fearful manner. Love drove him to feed the hungry, to heal the sick and mentally suffering, to break the laws of Pharisees that hurt or demeaned those less fortunate. Jesus love for the people he came to serve and heal drove out any fear of what others might say or do. His love overcame not only any fear he may have had but at times even the fear others might have had about what he was doing (see the healing of the blind man, John 9).

For many of us though, we live our lives in fear. We live our days wondering what other people will think of us, whether or not we will lose friendships or family. We think others will look down on us or think us weak for choosing to set aside fear to love, to risk living a way that can be hard, yet a way that is worth so much more.

Knowing this, the issue becomes are we going to be ruled by fear or by love? For many of us, the answer unfortunately will be fear. We will allow the opinions of others, even those who don’t know us, to dictate and decide how we should live. We will choose to go along and get along rather than live lives of extravagant love in imitation of Jesus. Our fear will keep us from following in the way of Jesus.

But it doesn’t have to. We are called to something more, something greater. We are called to live lives of extravagant love and grace. We are called to demonstrate the love and grace Jesus demonstrated and the love and grace that God continues to demonstrate through the Holy Spirit.

The question is will we? Will we be willing to set aside fear for love in order to live into this?

[1] Corey, Benjamin L. Unafraid, HarperOne Publishing, New York, © 2017, p. 27