Keeping the Faith
“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 v 18
When you are young it’s normal to be a bit afraid of your parents. They are the maker of the rules, they dole out the punishments,
If nothing else they are just bigger than you!
Now that I’m grown up, I’m not afraid of my parents. They can’t send me to my room or take away my toys, and I’m now taller than both of them. But the funny thing is I still do the things that they tell me. Not because I’m afraid they’ll punish me if I don’t, but as I’ve grown I’ve come to realise they have a lot of wisdom and good advice that I’d do well to listen to. I trust that if they are going to give me advice, it’s because they have my best interests at heart.
There are a lot of people, including many Christians, who assume that Christianity teaches about an angry God. They were given an image of God as the divine enforcer in the sky, doling out judgment on anyone who steps out of line.
Who wouldn’t be afraid of that God, he sounds terrifying?
But what this passage reveals is that someone who holds that view has yet to experience the full depths of God’s love.
God doesn’t want fearful obedience, God wants a loving relationship with us. Now we know from the Bible that this relationship does require rules and restrictions. At first we can be like children following them out of fear of punishment. But as we mature in faith we come to realise that these are not arbitrary commands but ways to guide us into living well.
When we grow up in our faith we let go of the angry, punishing God we were taught about, and meet perhaps for the very first time, the ever-loving, ever-forgiving God who casts out fear.