In the last blog, The Fear Factor: Part 1, I shared how fear can have a significant impact in our lives, but that a relationship with Christ will help us combat our fears. I Jn 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” How does this happen? How can “perfect love” drive out the fear that we experience?
First, when we see (or hear) the phrase “perfect love,” we need to understand that perfect love can only come from a perfect person (God or Christ). Our love can hardly be seen as perfect as it is often intertwined with selfish motives and agendas (though I admit that it is possible through Christ in us!). The evidence and understanding of God’s perfect love in our lives through a relationship with Christ will drive out the fear in our lives. Let’s look at how a relationship with our Savior helps us to face our fears:
a. Fear of Rejection: Though it hurts when we are rejected by others, we can rest in knowing that God will not reject us (that is, for those who have accepted Christ). Accepting and believing God’s opinion and perfect love for us as greater than the opinions of others will decrease and eradicate the fear of rejection in our lives. We can be secure individuals through accepting His perfect love for us. We must also understand that Jesus has been rejected by his closest friends, by his bride (the church), and by us. He knows the feelings of rejection. He’s felt the pain. You’re not alone and he will lift your head as you lean on him. (For in-depth understanding, read The Search For Significance by Robert McGee & When People Are Big & God is Small by Ed Welch.)
b. Fear of Suffering/Death: No one wishes to suffer, but one may be willing to go through it for those they love. Jesus knows suffering. He knows physical pain. He knows emotional pain. He was willing to be “obedient unto death,” to place himself in suffering because of his perfect love for you and me. He knew that his obedience to the plan of salvation would dictate his suffering as he placed himself under his Father’s will. Rom 8:28-29 explains that “all things will work for the good of those who love him” and that he is conforming us “to the image of Christ.” To be willing to go through suffering (or at least, choose to go through it well) means trusting in His perfect love, character, and plan that it will work out for good. Christ’s willingness to endure worked out according to his plan and our good (as well as his good!). When we know that our ultimate fate rests in the hands of God, we can have a peace that rests upon His perfect love demonstrated for us on the cross. He endured suffering and defeated death by raising from the dead. When we believe this, we too will endure suffering well and will defeat death to have everlasting life through Christ.
c. Fear of Intimacy: A Fear of intimacy is often a masked fear of rejection or suffering. “If they get too close, they will reject me and I will be hurt.” “They will see me for who I am, know all of my faults, my failures, my quirks….me.” God knows all of these things already. He loves you for who you are, warts and all. When we accept His perfect love for us, one that is not dependent on what we do or did, but depends on His character alone, then we can begin to accept ourselves as we are (not who we think we should be) and allow others to accept or reject us.
d. Fear of Failure: Is this a fear of failing or being labeled a failure? Failing at something occurs all the time. Every day we fail to live up to perfection as defined by God (though often redefined by ourselves). Often, the guilt of failing turns to shame as we label ourselves a failure. In God’s eyes, for those who have accepted Christ as Savior, we must begin to see ourselves “soberly.” Though we have failed and in many senses of the word are failures, we are not seen by God as such. We are seen as holy, righteous, and perfect. Why? Because of His perfect love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” Our failures have fallen upon His Son on the cross, and the Son’s righteousness has been given to us. When we believe in the Son, God chooses to see us as His Son. As holy, righteous, and perfect.
We must change our thinking and our hearts so that our lives reflect these truths of God’s perfect love. Our fears will not be cast out simply by knowing these truths, but when we apply these truths of God’s perfect love for us through Christ, we will achieve peace and victory in our lives over our fears. Need help? Call Foundations Christian Counseling and set up a time to discuss in person (570-402-5088).