Fear is not an attribute of love. This is true in any relationship but even more so, when we are referring to our relationship with the Lord. What we believe about God determines our quality of life and whether or not we fulfill our divine purpose. God is not a god of fear but a God of Love. We have to know that He loves us so fear won’t control us.
There is an aspect of fear towards God that perfect love wants to eliminate in our lives. Because the type of agonizing fear that involves punishment steals our joy and robs us of our confidence before God. God wants to crush this crippling fear with his unconditional and unchanging love. The apostle John is very specific in describing this type of fear, in 1 John 4:18 he writes,
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (NLT)
How does fear affect love?
When we have a fear-based relationship with God, performance drives the relationship. As a result, when we are good, we think God loves us, and when we don’t measure up, we doubt His love. Because we are never confident in our standing with God, it’s often easier to turn away from Him completely. Some of the most common fears that drive us away from God are fear of rejection, punishment, missing out, failure, judgment, lack, criticism, not being good enough, and being abandoned.
A distorted view of God
If we want to live a life deeply rooted in faith, we must have an accurate view of God. A distorted view of God causes big problems because it affects every area of our lives:
- How we view ourselves
- How we relate to others
- How much we love and obey God, and
- the meaning and purpose we give to life
The way we view God is heavily influenced by the relationship and experiences with our earthly fathers. A negative and painful relationship with our earthly fathers tends to distort our views of God.
Was your father authoritarian?
- Most concerned with obedience
- Not interested in your opinions, ideas or desires
- Intent on his own way
Authoritarian fathers can inadvertently influence their children to rebel against God.
Was your father abusive?
- Inflicts emotional, physical, or sexual pain
- Destroys a child’s sense of worth and trust
Abusive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to have difficulties trusting God and relating to him emotionally.
Was your father distant or passive?
- Shows little affection
- Rarely demonstrates emotion
- Interacts little with his children
Distant or passive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to view God as uninvolved in their lives.
Was your father absent?
- Not around, most often because of work, divorce or death
Absent fathers can inadvertently influence their children to believe that God is neglecting or has abandoned them
If we know how completely God loves us, we don’t need to fear. He will never allow anything to take place in our lives that He can’t ultimately use for our good. (Romans 8:28). We can resolve our fears by focusing on his unconditional and immeasurable love for us and then allowing Him to love others through us. His love will be our confidence, leaving no room for fear to sabotage our relationships with Him or with others.
We love because He first loved us
We are not saved by loving Jesus. We are saved by trusting in Jesus and the payment He made for us on the cross. We trust Him first then He works in our hearts as we get to know Him better and then we love Him. He loved us first, and because He loved us, He gave His life for us. Our love is a response to His love for us. He initiates, and we respond. He draws us near to Him with His reckless and unconditional love.
We serve and are obedient because of our love for God. We don’t do it because we have to or because we fear punishment if we don’t, we do it because it is an expression of our love for Him. We are grateful for a personal relationship with Him, salvation because of Him and the favor and blessings of being His child. It’s not religion; it’s relationship.
Sending peace, love & happiness to all!
I hope you are enjoying my October blog series on fear. For your convenience, if you click on the links below you can read or listen to the three previous episodes in this series.