1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, so the one who is afraid is not perfected in love.
When I was a kid, I used to watch a show called “Are you afraid of the dark?” This was not the best show for me to watch since I indeed was afraid of the dark. The thing about the dark is that it has the ability to take from us a very valuable sense: our vision. For those of us who are able to see, it is integral to our existence. We do not seek to challenge ourselves by getting around with our eyes closed. We rely on our vision for just about all that we do. It is one of the primary ways, if not the primary way, that we take in the world around us. Without that, there is a lack of assurance. We do not know what is out there, and that can scare us. Darkness and fear, however, are not of the Lord. They try to make us less than what we are, while God grants us fearlessness so that we can be more. He takes away the fear that stifles our growth.
The idea of love, perfect love, casting out all fear is given to us in a very specific context. Today’s verse speaks of being afraid of God. When we look at the original language of the scripture, we see that the fear it references is fear of punishment. It is like the shameful Adam who tried to hide from God. The thing is, we need not fear punishment from God if we accept and trust in his perfect love. Yes, we are to fear God in that we respect him. And of course, seeing him face-to-face should cause a mortal human to tremble at that great sight as his glory is so powerful we could not survive it without him holding back. But we should not be afraid that God is going to strike us down. We have accepted his Son as our Savior, and we are going through a process of sanctification. As we continue to be sanctified, God’s love in us is perfected. As it is perfected, any misplaced fear of him is removed. His perfect love makes him known to us.
Knowing God and his love should make us feel safe and secure. The confidence that we get from this relationship should serve to remove our fears in general. Life’s unknowns should no longer matter to us, because we know what really matters. We do not fear what may or may not lie ahead because we know who holds the future. We do not fear the day that we will see God face-to-face because we are secure in our being covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. We do not fear the call of God on our lives because we know that anything He ordains for us is for his perfect and holy purposes. When we know God, and we have love perfected in us, we become fearless to anything that would cause us to tremble. We can face the dark without hesitation because we know God will see us through it. Father, thank You that You perfect your love in us and drive out every fear that would seek to make us stumble.