Submitted by Pastor Donna Clark Fuller,
Rock Port and Watson United Methodist Churches
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;” 1 John 4:18
How many things do we find to fear?
Fear of change
Fear of differences in others
Fear of what might happen in the future
Fear of our own inadequacies
Fear of a reality we don’t want to see
This is a short list. We have a huge capacity to be afraid and to find things to fear. What happens when we are afraid? At best, we limit our lives. We don’t venture into places or into doing things out of fear. At worst, we try to control others in order to control our fear. Sometimes that desire to control others is done by violence. When nations try to control other nations we have warfare and violence on a large scale.
What is possible without fear? We can see the truth of the reality around us. We can see others for what God has created in them. We can see the potential in ourselves and the life that God wants us to lead. We can have relationships of mutual love and respect instead of relationships based on who is in control. We can have peace.
This scripture is part of a larger passage trying to get people to hold onto the basic message of love that is essential to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. So what is perfect love? The love that God has for us is the most perfect love. If we truly have faith in God’s perfect love for us, we cannot be afraid. There is nothing that can hurt us in any serious or meaningful way. It is the realization that there really is a God whose very nature is love, who came to earth as Jesus Christ and was sacrificed on the cross out of love for us, and who has given us eternal life out of love. When we have that, how can we be afraid of anything this world can do to us?
There was a lot that was bad in the world when these words were first written. There is a lot that is bad in our world today. So much of divisiveness, prejudice, violence, and just plain hate have a root in fear. We have to do better. We have to have the courage to believe in God’s perfect love and reject the evil that comes out of fear.