One of the main traits that is prevalent among many evangelicals is fear; Fear of upsetting God. In fact, many have their entire lives driven by fear. Fear is the catalyst for all that they do and say. They are always metaphorically looking over their shoulder, wondering if they have messed up and if they should quickly repent? And yet, John wrote in his epistle that perfect love cast out fear… what did he mean, and should Christians fear? In my view the answer to the question is that he meant that they should not fear.
Let’s take a closer look at the passage that the clause comes from.
1Jn 4:16-18 “So 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. (17) By 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. (18) 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.”
For context one should read the entire passage from 1John 4:7-19 It explains that God is love and, that it is *not* motivated by our love for God but rather, the motivation comes from God’s love for us. That is… the love that was manifested in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the catalyst for our love. It is what will make us love God and our sister/brother. Jesus demonstrated Fathers *perfect love.* How you ask? He made him who knew no sin to be made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him! The perfect love that casts out fear then is the redemption purchased by Jesus once for all.
Look again at the above passage of scripture. In verse sixteen John states that he and the saints have come to *know* … and…. *believe* the love God has for each one. If one abides, lives, rests in this love they automatically abide in God and by the same token--- God abides in them. The purpose as stated above is to have confidence in the/a day of judgment…. any judgment. Believers should not be afraid of God! How much plainer can it be? In fact, he goes on to point out that if you fear you have *not* been perfected in love. As I have shown so many times in so many ways on this blog *resting in Jesus* --- *resting in redemption*--- * resting in the Father’s love,* is the very ground, the firm foundation of our relationship with a loving Father who does not condemn. This is what it means to be perfected in love. Resting in Jesus is equal with being perfected in love. I wish that I could make it more plain!
Allow the perfect love of the Father in Jesus to cast out all fear. You do not have to fear punishment… not if you are resting and trusting and clinging to the Father’s love! This is what will bring true love for the Father, true relationship with the Father and a natural desire to please him by loving your sister/brother.