What is the biggest hindrance to love? Is it hate? Is it selfishness? No, scripture says that it’s fear! Fear is a huge obstacle that prevents love’s flow. What is it about love that tempts us to fear as a response? Here are some obvious reasons. What if I am hurt? What if I look foolish? What if I’m judged? What if I go too far? What if I pervert it? What if it becomes idolatry? What if I lose myself? What if I’m taken advantage of? What if it exposes my weakness? What if I lose everything? Any of these sound familiar? In steps, Perfect Love!
Perfect Love No Fear
God’s faultless solution to this quandary is perfect Love. Why? Because the scriptures say perfect love casts out fear and the list above are all fears (1 Jn. 4:18). This list is filled with fears and structures to maintain personal sovereignty. But Love is not expressed through self-saving restraints. True love is only experienced by casting yourself upon the mercies of God and allowing Him to uphold and keep you. God is the only way we can live in Love’s integrity. Perfect love isn’t policed by the flesh, because the spirit doesn’t need its assistance. And if you look deeper, flesh is actually anti-love, so how could it preserve any bounds worth living or expressing? It can’t!
Perfect Love in the Bible
Let’s look at an example in the Bible of one who loved. The disciple John certainly is lifted up as one who abandoned social protocols to express his passionate love. And this is why John was given the privilege to write The Word about love. What was it about John that gave him authority to convey these Words? He himself was an abandoned lover! He was the one who lay on Jesus’ breast. He was the one who cast off fear of judgment to display his admiration and affection for his Lord. He was willing to look foolish because he was perfected in Love. Imagine a fisherman unashamed to lay his head on the breast of another man in a room full of men!
Conversely, why does John speak on false prophets in 1 John 4 right before he addresses loving? The reason is that he had living experience of this falsehood. Those who feigned love without an inner reality betrayed his Beloved. John witnessed examples of haters, scoffers, and murderers. All the while, he was demonstrating perfected love. John threw himself abandoned into the untamed waters of Love. There his fears were cast aside. John was the only one standing in the presence of Christ’s cross – all others fled but he went back. And he was the only one Jesus entrusted with the care of His mother. This lover was also called “The one whom Jesus loved!” Each of these speaks clearly of Christ’s seal of approval on John, the lover.
John is an example of a man who lived fearless in love. He’s a man expressing and living love. And the Spirit used him and his life to pen the scriptures that speak of Love’s living expression.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
1 John 4:16-21 NLT
I’ve chosen to live in Love. Sure, I am still tempted to fear but there is a greater fear that I have – the fear of not being a lover. Of being called a liar and anti-Christ as 1 John 4 presents. I have to trust Him to preserve Himself as my first love. He is the one who birthed me in love and lives that love through me; I think He’s trustworthy enough to keep my heart and to present me faultless (Jude 24).