“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (I John 4:18)
Ever dissect this scripture before? Ever take a good long hard look at what John is saying here? Well I did about 2 weeks back and I came to some conclusions.
(1) Fear and love should not co-exist in a relationship. Someone should not say they have to ‘fear someone’ to ‘love them’ or ‘love them due to fear’. John makes it abundantly clear ‘that one who fears is not perfected by love’ – they are not getting all they can from that relationship.
(2) Love and fear are opposites. Love does not lead you to fear nor does fear lead you to love. Perfect loves casts out fear or you could also say fear casts out love. These two ideas are not bed-mates nor do they like hanging out – one usually drives the other away.
(3) The idea we can be saved by ‘fear tactics’ will not result in the idea we ‘will know God’ – since God is love. If someone comes to God to escape hell (punishment) there is no guarantee that same person will correctly portray God (who is love – not fear) – since the fear is a misrepresentation of God’s character. Fear leads to superstition; love leads to freedom.
We talk about the ‘fear of God’ but I think this is a normal beginning – there is a huge element of unknown concerning God. But to remain in fear is like to remain a child who is scared of the dark – not knowing the dark won’t hurt you (you just can’t see). Love is the steps towards God and finding out what the depth of God is (what life is all about and what it all means). Fear does not have depth – it has punishment – and that’s all there is to know.
Can the idea of love replace the idea of fear in the Christian world as the core idea in salvation? Why do we as humans want to hold so tightly onto fear?