Last Sunday I preached on 1 John 4:7-21. There’s so much in that scripture to talk about that I could have been in the pulpit all day. I’m sure the people at Westminster Presbyterian Church are thankful that I didn’t do that! One part of the scripture that I didn’t touch on much is the part about love and fear. Perfect love casts out fear. This one sentence could be a sermon all by itself. Fear gets in our way so much!
I thought of this scripture when I saw the movie Frozen. When Elsa’s parents take her to the rock people to figure out what’s going on with her power to freeze things, Grand Pabbie tells them there is beauty in her power, but fear will be her enemy. Unfortunately, when her parents die, Elsa lets fear rule her life and everything goes downhill from there. What changes things in the end is Anna’s love for her sister. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13) This is exactly what Anna does for Elsa, and what Jesus does for us. Self-sacrifice is the ultimate act of love . . .perfect love.
In this scripture passage, John proposes that the real basis for our fear is fear of death and/or punishment, and so the reason that perfect love casts out fear is that through Jesus’ death we no longer have to fear death or punishment. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, our sins are forgiven—no more punishment, and death is no longer the end—we can have eternal life with God in heaven. All that’s required is that we believe this is true (Romans 10:9), and God even provides us with the faith to believe (Ephesians 2:8).
So although Elie Weisel says the opposite of love is indifference, and some might say the opposite of love is hate, from another perspective the inverse of love would be fear. Love is certainly a good antidote.
What causes you fear? How might love be the antidote to that fear?