Updated: Apr 20, 2022
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 4:18 NIV
Encounter. Become. Impact. Creekside’s three action words reminded me so much of this verse during our Celebration Sunday. How did I connect perfect love to them?
The idea that “perfect love drives out fear” has been quoted to me numerous times in the context of stress and anxiety. I have often seen it in those lists of “Bible Verses About Fear and Anxiety”. While it did provide some comfort, it always made me feel like I was lacking because how could I become perfect here in this life?
However, as I had learned later, to be made “perfect in love” is to be “completed” or “finished” in love. It is not in the sense of imperfect versus perfect, or flawless versus flawed. Rather, “perfect” in this case signals an act of doing and completing in love, an accomplishment, or in Creekside terms, an Impact.
For example, Jesus “perfected” God’s work by accomplishing what He was called to do. His completed work fulfilled His mission as Savior of the world.
Like Jesus, in our active faith, we are acting to complete our own missions in love. In this view, the verse does not really deal with anxiety and fear in the same way that I had thought! And it makes so much more sense in light of our call to boldness and action, to impact the world in Christ.
Looking one verse back, 1 John 4:17 provides a clue to the idea that “perfect love” has more to do with the action of completing something:
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. NIV
We are called to act. We are called to be the light of the world, a beacon of love. Here is the Become part of the slogan. Through God’s work in us, moving toward completion, we become like Jesus, and as a result we impact the world as Jesus did.
There is an urgency to that which I often forget as I go about my day; that the goal is to impact others because judgment is real—that part about fear and punishment. We are called to act for the eternal good of other people. Faith in action.
One verse more reminds me of that Encounter bit in the Creekside slogan.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NIV
Our first encounter with the God of love is the act of being loved and should permeate how we live.
So there it is. Perfected love encompasses our encounter with God’s love, His work in us steadily moving towards completion where we will become like Jesus, and our impact in the world through our own completed acts of love in faith. This is what we strive for!
The amount of stress, fear, and anxiety in this last year and half has been immense. Hearing how our church has acted in faith, stepped out in boldness, and served others out of love was so encouraging. I do not think it is a coincidence that it makes us feel good when we help someone else out! While we cannot do anything to deserve the grace God has given us, loving others through actions allows us to show our faith and reassures us of our place with Christ.