I made this post on my other blog. Wanted to post it here, too. I have much to say, but with grad classes starting up again this week, I haven’t had the time to blog here like I want to. Maybe this weekend.
So, this New Year’s Resolution thing. 10 days in and I’m beginning to realize how incredibly difficult it is to be controlled by the love of Christ. On the one hand, I’ve become more intentional about things, like choosing to be more patient with the kids or not getting upset when somebody cuts me off or refuses to let me over. So that’s good. But there’s another sense in which a more consistent awareness of the love of Christ only exacerbates my unloving deficiencies.
Case in point: In my devotional time, I’ve really been drawn to the passages of Scripture that describe the love of God. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time in 1 John 4 lately. Last week I came upon a passage that I instantly fell in love with, mostly because I’ve never paid attention to the last line. 1 John 4:16-18 reads:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 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.
I wish I had the words to tell you how important this passage has become to me in such a short amount of time. At various times this week, when I would feel the urge not to love, I would begin reciting this little phrase to myself, as if it were my own little mantra.To live in love is to live in that place where fear has been expelled. I cannot be motivated by fear and motivated by love. For there is no fear in love.
But like I said, this kind of awareness only underscores my deficiencies. Because I am fearful.
Fear keeps me from being transparent in my relationships.
Fear allows me to keep people at arm’s length so they don’t ever get to know the real me.
Fear gives me the permission to retaliate when I’m hurting.
But look at how all of that changes when love drives out fear:
Love lets me be authentic in my relationships.
Love breaks down my barriers and bids me to share myself with others.
Love calls me to seek reconciliation when I’m hurting.
I promise I’m not going to bore all of you with all the little details of how I’m attempting to live out this resolution. (That would be simultaneously egotistical and embarrassing.) But I can also promise you that this won’t be the last time you’ll hear me say this in 2008:
There is no fear in love.