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“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment. This shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” 1 John 4:18
This is such a rich Word, today’s manna. I’d love to share my notes.
I never wondered about it before but what kind of ‘love’ is this verse talking about? I knew of ‘love’ as the kind of love I have for my family. But when I was younger, although I ‘loved’ my parents, I was afraid to mess up. I used to think it’s because I didn’t want to hurt them, but heck, I was a kid. No such thought would have entered my mind. To be honest, I was afraid to be scolded.
The other kind of ‘love’, which covers a much greater ground, is the Lord’s ‘love’ for me. I take it this is the kind of love, the verse is talking about. It goes without saying that if there are some areas of my life that I still show fear (and there still are), it could be because in some way, I’m still afraid that the Lord would punish me. He is a righteous and just, ruler, after all.
Maybe I’m afraid to take new risks in life because, in the back of my mind, I’m afraid to fail. Maybe I’m afraid to fail because I know that there’s a high chance that I would. And that’s because it never occured to me that, it doesn’t only depend on me, that I’m not living this life alone. And it never did because, deep inside, I didn’t think Jesus would be interested in my activities, much less my whole life. And that, He won’t be, because I’m not really worth it after all. I mean, I have frenemies. There are people I hate and I can’t stand. I don’t love my neighbour like I should. And I never really said sorry to Jesus for those either. I slack off at work. Or that I talk behind someone else’s back. Because people are mean. I did some very unchristian things. In fact, my daily life is not even remotely close to what the church portrays. And I hate the church. They’re a bunch of hypocrites. And I hate myself for hating others. Ugh, I’m hopeless.
I could go on and on but you get the point. And honestly, my mind doesn’t go that far most of the time. In the end, really, it’s just because I don’t deserve Jesus’ favour. I take that as a punishment for things I have and haven’t done.
“This shows that I have not fully experienced His perfect love”
Truth is, the Jesus’ kind of love, removes my consciousness of punishment. At least, that’s what 1 John 4:18 is saying. If I have that kind of love, if I knew or understood that kind of love, I wouldn’t think that the Lord would give me my due, which is what the world calls bad karma ending up in death (the wages of my unfortunate being). If the Lord is dealing with me based on my performance, or the lack thereof, I wouldn’t get as far as being born.
If I had known this, if I believed that Jesus still loves me, sin, imperfections, weaknesses and all, I won’t be afraid of what tomorrow brings, knowing that He will be on my side. Because He said He would, not depending on what I do or don’t do, but because of who He is. He’s faithful even when I’m faithless. He died while I was still a sinner.
At the end of the day, “Jesus loves me, this I know” is still the greatest theology.