“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 by love.” -1 John 4:12
There is a shadow I see many people living under. The shadow of fear. Most people walk around with a suspicious eye cast at the heavens. There is a belief in a higher power, a God Who Speaks. But He is not for me. He is for churchmice and children. He is for monks and priests. What does that Great God have to do with divorcees and drug addicts? Even among the fakers, there is a great fear of actually being seen. We go to our churches and play a part hoping no one can see behind the curtain.
Most people I meet on the daily are afraid of God.
I do not talk about a holy reverence, a respect given to the Creator of All Things. No. I mean the fear a child feels from a drunken father. Hearing the keys jangle, the muttering outside the door, the hard footfalls as he stumbles in. There is fear of this powerful and unknown power coming into our home. That is a fear of taking a smack across the head and not knowing the reason. This is how many think of Him. We think of him as an arbitrary and abusive dad. Part of us wants to know Him, while another part of us wants to just live our life without coming anywhere near Him.
But then comes the disciple of Christ saying so boldly, “There is no fear in love.” John, who knows God intimately, describes something that we do not know. We do not know this love that drives out fear. This relationship of such trust that we need not watch our back. Many of us know that God is big and strong, and some of us even want to obey so that he won’t give us the back of His hand. But the thought that He loves us is something we won’t accept. The fear is all we have ever known, and so we stay there.
Can you imagine, a love without fear? Living fully rested in the arms of another. We have been taught against this. We hold back, we play our cards close to the chest, we make sure we give no one power to hurt us. This is what God has offered to us in Christ. With God and without fear, there is peace that passes all understanding. With God and without fear, we may get pressed but we are never destroyed. With God and without fear, the rain can fall and the winds can blow and the floods can rise, but our house does not fall, for we are founded upon the rock.
This sounds great. But how do we enter into this love without fear?
John says it well in the very next sentence. “We love Him because He first loved us.” The only way I know of to live in this love without fear, is to actually believe what He said and what He did. The eyes of my heart must see and understand the height, and depth, and breadth, and length that is the love of God found in Christ Jesus. I have to live at the foot of the cross. I have to not move from there. I, who am unlovely and unfaithful, was loved fully there. Christ saw me. Christ knew me. And as I stood among the mockers, He prayed for me. “Forgive him Father, for He knows now what He does.” Christ was forsaken that I may not be forsaken. Christ died that I may live. I have to live there and not just believe that historical fact, but believe this reality actually applies to me. I have to get this from my head into my heart. I have to receive it. And this love is enough to break a man. And as I have come to truly trust in Christ’s love for me, I have begun to love Him back. A relationship has developed. And at the cross I know I need not be afraid. He said it then and says it now, “It is finished.” And I believe Him. He did all the work there. He defeated death and hell upon that hill.
And so I walk easy, under a light burden and an easy yolk. I look at an uncertain future without fear. For I may not know what comes next, but I know Him in whom I have put my trust. And when I look up at the heavens, I look up not in fear of the unknown, but with lovingtrust of the known.
Come to the cross, all you who are weary and heavy laden. Come to the feet of Christ, that He may give you rest.