16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:16-19
Everyone is afraid of something. If someone says that they are not afraid, they are probably just afraid of looking weak. So they are, in fact, afraid of something. Most people readily admit a fear or phobia. And while fear may be universal, what many do not realize is that we actually have the choice as to what we will fear.
The fears and phobias we have are both rational and irrational. These might include a fear of flying, open spaces, and spiders that are based on rational situations. But the irrational response is to never get in plane (though it is safer than your car), to never travel to Saskatchewan, or to run screaming from the room because a daddy-long-legs made an appearance on TV. Irrational.
Moving it from the general to the specific, when a Christ-follower claims no fear, he or she is saying it in the context of their eternal destiny and their faith journey here on earth. It is a statement about identity, security, and provision. They are saying, “I am not concerned or afraid about who I am. What I have or don’t have and where I am going in life, those things are settled for me. I don’t fear the present or the future.”
In essence, it is our unshakable faith in Jesus Christ that sets the stage for that confidence. The preacher of the Hebrews sermon quoted Psalms 118:6 to make his declaration, “The Lord is my helper;I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6). It is a statement about his faith, but it is rooted in something else. And that something else is love.
The Apostle John said it this way, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a). John was saying something about eternal destinies in that context and the confident assurance we have that we, as the followers of Christ, would not face the judgment of God and eternal separation from him. The perfect love of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that resulted from that love means we do not need to fear death or judgment.
Once those two things are out of the way, spiders and heights and such seem awfully trivial.
What are the things I fear most?
How do I usually respond when I fear something?
Prayer – Almighty Father, truly there is no fear in love, Your love. What You did to accomplish my salvation allows me freedom from all fear. Forgive my tendency to respond to changing circumstances with fear. Help me to remember Your love and let that love drive our all fear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.