DayBreaks for 3/15/19: Perfect Love
From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 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 4:16-18 (NIV)
I think that this passage says more about love than I’ve ever realized or appreciated. It starts out talking about how we know and rely on God’s love for us, followed by John’s short but simple declaration: God is love. Isn’t that wonderful news? What if it had not been so? What if all John could say about God was something like, “God is anger” or “God is unstable” or “God is vindictive.” Thank goodness that God is not those things, but that primarily over and above anything else, He is love.
Secondly, if we live in love, God lives in us. That suggests, as I wrote about a week ago, that without God we cannot love at all. He first loved us…and when we live in that knowledge and awareness, then we can love – but not before. Love is made complete in us (nothing lacking) so we can have confidence that when the judgment rolls around, we have nothing to fear.
But then comes the point I want to look at today. 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. If you are like me, you’ve probably taken this verse about perfect love casting out fear and berated yourself because you fear of God. First, let me say that it is not such a bad thing to have a healthy respect/fear of God – Jesus in fact told us to fear the one (God) who can cast both body and soul into hell. Fear, it seems, is not an unwarranted response to the immensity of God’s power.
That being said, perfect love casts out fear, taking away our fear of punishment in the judgment. I’ve asked myself over and over many times, why do I remain fearful of God? Partly it is because I know my sins, and as David put it, they are “ever before me.” No matter how hard I try to pretend, they are real and they are very, very many. Partly it is because my love for God is not yet perfected – so my love is not “perfect”, it has holes in it – largely because all human loves have always carried pain with them and we have to protect ourselves from being hurt too badly and too deeply.
But, as I thought about this passage, I think I’ve got another point of view on it, too. What love is perfect, or maybe a better way to put it would be “Whose love is perfect?” Certainly not mine or yours. There is nothing about us that is perfect or complete. Only God’s love is perfect. This phrase “perfect love drives out fear” may be talking more about God’s love for me than of my love for Him. His love is the only perfect love. His love drives out the fear that comes from impending and fearful punishment. It is, as John said, God who lives in us.
I need to apprehend the love of God more in order to drive out the fear that sometimes invades my soul. My own love will never be perfect enough to drive it away, but His can…and will.
Prayer: Amazing love, how can it be, that You my Lord should die for me! May we apprehend the perfect love You have for us as our Father that will drive away our fear! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>