"Fear is a liar." I saw an image of this statement spray painted on a wall in a Google search. It spoke so loudly to me. Fear is a liar. It does not know how to speak life to my soul. It seeks to imprison my hope. It seeks to destroy my destiny. It tends to make so much sense that many times I allow it to have its way in my life. But love.....
Oh, Love. Love has nothing to do with fear. In fact, they are enemies.
Guess who is stronger.
There is no fear in love. In fact, perfect love has this amazing capacity to drive out, cast out, eradicate and obliterate fear. How does it do that? I'm so glad you asked.
First, John explains that fear involves punishment. "If I do A, I will reap B." Herein lies the gospel. Religion says, "If you do bad, you get bad. If you do good, you get good." Pretty much any religion you come across has this at its foundation. I would submit to you that this is what John was referring to in this verse. It is referencing the Old Covenant Law that says you must do x,y,z to be pleasing to God. And, consequently, if you do a,b,c you are an abomination and cut off. This is, unfortunately, where much of the world, including the church, still abides. But Love....
Jesus came to show us the Father. He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father," and "I only do what I see my Father doing." The goal of Jesus was to show us that we were never meant to live under religion. We were created for relationship. Even the Mosaic Law, itself, was meant to show us that we can never be "good enough" to impress an omnipotent God. Seriously. How could little me expect to get everything right all the time? Jesus came to say, "That's not the point!" The point is that God loves you simply because you're you. Jesus came to fulfill AND put an end to the Law. He did that by becoming the perfect sacrifice on behalf of humanity.
Here's where 1 John 4:18 becomes important. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf so that, IN Him, we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus took the punishment for sin. (Many believe differently than I do on this but I happen to be of the belief that the one doing the punishing was not the Father, but religion, through the hands of men.) The emphasis here is on the word "took." Some might say "paid." The point is that it's in the past tense. It. Is. Finished. Done. Over. There is nothing that you or I could add to the perfection that is what Christ accomplished on our behalf.
Pay attention to this. Fear says that what He did might not be enough. Fear is a liar.
Fear asks, "What if it's too good to be true? You should really pay close attention to how you do x,y,z because it might not be good enough. God is a holy God, you know, and you're just a peon who is so far from perfect. There's no way you could deserve His love. In fact, you don't deserve love at all. Love is a lie anyway. You always get hurt. You can't trust anyone. I bet everyone you see is fake. You should keep them all at a distance, especially God." Do you see how that slippery slope begins?
Sometimes fear says, "Just go to church, sing the right songs, say the right prayers and hope that it's good enough to squeeze you in to heaven. At least you're not doing a,b,c like those other people who are going straight to hell. You should probably stay away from them until they grovel before the Lord, say a sinners prayer, get baptized into the right denomination, fast and pray, and repent every Sunday like you did." Fear says that God is out to get you. But Love....
Love is not arrogant