There 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.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)
In today’s world fear seems to be a constant. I’m not talking about abject terror. While that exists, maybe more than it used to, I’m talking about the daily “normal” fears that people have regarding everyday life. Fear that they might not have enough money to pay a bill; fear that they or a loved one might have a catastrophic illness, etc. We often refer to these fears as worry or concern, but they are fears. And for a believer, they are unfounded fears.
Since we are living in the twenty-first century western world, I need to specify what is meant in this verse by the word love. John used the word that means, in simple terms, total, pure love. It’s the kind of love that would cause God to send Jesus to die for man’s sin because “God so loved the world” (John 3.16.) It is love that we can strive for but I don’t think many of us will ever actually achieve this short of heaven. Jesus exhibited this love when He died on the cross. Remember, His life wasn’t taken from Him by force; He willingly gave it up as a substitute for us hanging on that cross.
The fears that we live with are bits and pieces of the old life that we had before we became Christians. We may, and should, lose a lot of this baggage as we walk closer to Jesus, but I suspect that most of us will carry some until the end. We shouldn’t, but I suspect that we will. Why shouldn’t we? After all, we do live in this world and we have to deal with this world’s issues. Yes, we do, but God…! When we become believers in Christ we are reborn. We become new creatures. Our spiritual being is born into a relationship with Jesus Himself. God becomes our Father and we become His children. God is love; perfect love. And “perfect love casts out fear.” I think that all too often we hold on to these fears, rather than allowing God’s love to cast them out of our lives.
In her hit song, Francesca Battistelli tells fear to take a hike. I like this idea, but in actual practice it’s not as easy as saying, “Fear, you don’t own me.” It’s a constant struggle. Live goes on, bodies age, diseases threaten and we become fearful. So what is the answer?
Prayer! Plain and simple, talk to Jesus about it. Each and every time, all of the time. What I do like about the song is that it reminds us that as Children of the Living God we are not subject to the demons; they are subject to us, through Jesus. Every time fear haunts you talk to Jesus. Every time one of life’s problems becomes a concern (worry, fear), talk to Jesus.
In the late 1800’s Joseph Scriven wrote the lyrics to “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” another song that I like a lot.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful