The only time fear can be next to love is when it’s found in the word fearless. What does it mean to be fearless? What does it mean to have fear? Would it be characterized as that uncomfortable sensation that causes aversion towards something I predict to be unpleasant?
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
If everyone in the world has fear and the only people on earth who experienced loving without fear are Adam, Eve, and Jesus, how are we to define fear based on these peoples’ lives vs. ours?
What was the reality of the Garden of Eden? Perfection. No fear, no guilt, and no shame. “They were naked and experienced no shame (Genesis 2:25) and they responded in complete honesty (Genesis 3:3). And then…a lie was spoken (Genesis 3:4, 5). Temptation entered and in response, man stepped into his first sin. Immediate shame and immediate fear took over. Honesty had been broken.
3 Questions God asked then (and asks now) taken from Yancey & Stafford:
Given a choice between life and being like God (knowing the difference between good and bad), inadvertently man chose to experience bad. To know something is to experience it. Following that, evil entered through a voluntary decision and the knowledge of evil was/is being experienced. The condition of sin, like a disease, infected our lifelines. It tore our relationship from our Creator, but it did not manage to rip us from His love. Instead, it ruined our ability to love like God does, perfectly, without fear.
How do we love then? How can we, when perfect love has no fear? and all fallen people who do not know God are still locked in fear? We read about God’s love in His love letter to us…
Love continues regardless of how the giver is perceived.
Love pursues beyond rejection.
Love does not quit.
Love is sacrificial.
Love acts and does not just speak.
Love is an initiation.
Love is not hypocritical.
Love resurrects that which was once dead.
God is love. (1 John 4:8,16) God = love. In the characteristics of love above, read again except in place of love, put God.
Love is not God. It’s not a bidirectional relationship. God sets the tone for what love is, God defines love. Love set against any other measuring tool is not love, it is desire, it is lust, it is disillusioned, it is idealized, it is exaggerated, but it is not love. Love is not heart palpitations, or nervousness when you’re next to someone you deeply admire. Love is not fanciful stares or wishful desires. Love is not being nice and always smiling and handing out hugs. Love does not go back on its word, it is based on commitment.
God is love. Measure love by who God is.