Of the Spirit: Perfect Love Drives Out Fear (LOVE week 3)
If you’re new here, we’re exploring the fruits of the spirit one at a time, a month at a time. We’ve just started and we’re on week 3 of love. Join us!
Last week, I was yelling about God’s love being UNLIMITED and UNCONDITIONAL (there I go again).
This week, I’ve been mulling over this verse that is just a little bit down the page in 1 John 4:
Such love has no fear because perfect love expels fear.
God’s love has no shadows, no imperfections, no blemishes. So when we truly live in this love, there is nothing to fear.
I know a bit about living in fear. Over this past year, I have struggled with panic attacks and fear-based living. I saw the potential of darkness at every turn and there were moments this summer that I saw very little light.
It took a brother in Christ coming to me (after and beyond medication to alleviate parts of it that were postpartum related) and telling me quite honestly that I needed to be filled with the spirit.
I was open to a new way of life, but I could not see through the mesh of darkness over my eyes; and frankly, my heart had become hard toward God and his ways because I lived in fear daily. I was seeing only fear, not God.
But I was open. I was willing. And this is where I could start to live.
This brother prayed over me – along with others – that the Spirit would fill my life. I could feel my searing cynicism practically cut through those prayers, but I tried to be receptive, I tried to unclench my fists, I tried to trust.
You know what I discovered? His mercies are new every morning.
I woke up the next day a changed woman. The Spirit had literally and certainly come to dwell within me, crowding out those dark places and replacing them with fruit: the love, the joy, the peace, that leads to patience and kindness toward others, goodness, gentleness and self control.
This is the perfect love of God – these names and qualities that we give to the Spirit. And this love is an outpouring of himself over and over again when we open our hands to receive.
God’s perfect love expelled the fear and panic that had permeated my life for months. His perfect love came to dwell in me as I dwelled in God.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. (vs 16-17)
This verse reminds me that I have to continually live in God (as we live). The fear didn’t magically disappear. But when it surfaces, I choose not to control it, fret over it, or will it away – I choose to dwell in God. I choose to invite God in and accept his presence.
Where have you been on this journey toward trusting that God’s love is perfect? Because truly it’s the trust in his love, his unending and unconditional love that holds us in this balance and keeps us living not in fear but in faith.
If we are afraid…this shows we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
Fully experienced his perfect love.
We can fully experience his perfect love!
[As a side note, I would like to say that there are true chemical, biological, and situational reasons people experience panic attacks, of which I have also been a victim and am a survivor. This is not to minimize or over-spiritualize or say that every instance of panic and fear is spiritual. There are times for medication. There are times for the Spirit.]