1 John 4:16-18
16 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 them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 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.
“The fear of God”....”Put the fear of God in them”, those are phrases that cause us to pause and ask, “Is this trembling, frightful feeling what we feel when we consider an encounter with God? Sorry for the pun, but I FEAR this is the way we do feel at times. After all, God is the one God, Holy, Perfect and Righteous. The Scripture tells us to fear God. It even says that fear is the beginning of wisdom. Fearing God is the wise thing, it says.
How does this idea square with God as love? At first glance, it seems this God relationship must be one or the other, love or fear. As often is the case, words can have more than one meaning. Here, “fear” means respect, not fright.
John is clear. God is love and we are to love God. The fear God’s love casts out is the fear we have of being imperfect in the hands and eyes of a perfect God. Here is the point. We don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God. That is the perfect love John speaks of in this passage. We do not have to be perfect. We have a perfect God. There is no need to be afraid in the presence of that perfect love as seen in Christ, as experienced in Christ! Perfect love does cast out fear!
Thank you Lord, that I don’t have to be perfect, because your love for me is perfect. May your love cast out my fear and fill me with peace. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.