Perfect love drives out fear …1 John 4:18
Of all the passages from Scripture that I have learned over the years, this piece is perhaps the most troubling for me. It makes me feel inadequate, that somehow I’ve failed in my faith.
The reason for that feeling is the fact that I have an anxiety disorder, and despite all my praying and faith in God, I still experience fear.
Irrational, unreasonable, ridiculous, unexplained, sometimes fleeting, sometimes enduring, fear. If it weren’t so inconvenient (occasionally even paralyzing), it might even be funny. For example, I won’t drive at night because a deer might dash in front of my car causing me to die in the resulting accident. And while anything is possible, really, what are the odds of that?
Wait a minute. That may not be the best example. I live in Minnesota, after all, and I’ve already had one headlight taken out by an errant Bambi on a dusky road. Odds are slight it will happen again.
The fear that it MIGHT happen again, AND kill me in the process, though, still weighs heavily in favor of my not taking a moonlit drive. Ever.
So, yes, I fear, which according to our letter-writer John, means I am not perfect in love. And that makes me feel guilty.
Double fail. What’s a girl to do?
Here’s my take and I hope it helps you as it has helped me over many a rough wrestle with the Bible: memorizing pieces of Scripture is great for trivia contests, but if you want to really understand what Scripture says, you need to read the whole chapter, if not the whole book.
You don’t read a couple of lines out of the middle of a paragraph in a novel, and decide you’ve got it figured out, do you? Of course not! In the same way, we all need to move beyond the one-liners in Scripture and get the whole story, which in the case of 1 John 4 is about how we know that God loves us. It’s about our relationship with God, NOT about our relationship with jay-walking Bambis, or any other thing that frightens us here on earth. In fact, John’s letter assures us that we don’t have to fear God, because He loves us …perfectly… fears and all. With that bit of information tucked away in our hearts, we know we have nothing to fear from God, and that, in reality, He loves us right through our fears. God is FOR us always…even, and perhaps especially, when we fear.
Now that’s some Good News, wouldn’t you say?
Jan Dunlap has 33 years of experience raising her five children. She is the author of the humorous memoir Saved by Gracie, and the laugh-out-loud Birder Murder Mystery series. Jan lives in Minnesota, where she delights in finding God and laughter in the everyday moments of life to share with her readers and audiences. She welcomes visitors to her website at jandunlap.com, her Facebook page at Birder Murder Mama or @BirderMurder on Twitter.