The opposite of fear is not courage. That’s not to say that courage is uncalled for in fearful situations. But, the antidote to fear is love. Read what John wrote a long time ago. “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.” I John 5:18
God loves us perfectly. We are forgiven and accepted because of Christ. Since we are loved perfectly and our punishment is removed - we have nothing to fear! That doesn’t mean that all of our fears vanish. But we are invited to confidence in the love God has for us. My fears suggest that I have not yet grown to a whole understanding of His love. When I do have a perfected perspective of His love - I lose my fears.
The concept is not hard to understand. Every parent witnesses the power of love to soothe fears. A thunderous night storm may invite children to run for mom and dad’s bed. The storm remains but nestled by parental arms, their fears are reduced.
John says that there is no fear in love. Yet, we are plagued by fears. We question God’s mood towards us. We wonder if He will bless others but keep us at arm’s distance. We are afraid of being forgotten by grace. We tremble at the dangers around us and doubt whether God’s plan is big enough to handle all of them. Yes, we have more than enough fears to occupy us.
Some might argue that fears are completely natural. We learn them early and let go of them too late. John is not suggesting that it is un-Christian to fear. Nor is he teaching that our fears chase out love. Love and fear do co-exist within our souls. He does say my fears indicate that my understanding and experience of His love for me still has a way to go. I have not yet been perfected in love. But there is more of life to come. God has not abandoned His handiwork. His part is to assure me of His love. What is my part?
My part is to trust. Perfect love chases away fear when I trust His love. It’s not easy to do. We are still children quaking at the sound of every danger. We see shadows of what could hurt us. Our imaginations run wild with fear leading the way. In those times, I don’t have to debate the likelihood of harm or do a risk analysis. I don’t pretend that the perils are smaller than they are. I need only focus on His love. And so I am reminded of a syllogism God whispered to me-
I cannot love whom I do not trust. I cannot trust whom I do not know. I cannot know whom I do not seek.
So seek Him. Know Him. Love Him. Receive His love. Fear not.