There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because (God) first loved us. ~ I John 4:18-19
You may have heard the famous quote by Elie Wiesel that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference.
But for the writer of I John, love also has another opposite: fear.
The word for love that John uses here for love is "agape." Agape is that love that is the highest of them all - the love that Paul describes in the first letter to the Corinthians as being patient and kind. The kind of love that doesn't insist on its own way and doesn't record wrongs. The kind that hopes and bears and believes all things. Agape love is self-sacrificing, gracious, and merciful.
It's the kind of love God has for us.
There's no room for fear there.
When we fear someone, can we truly love them?
When we we fear a group, can we love them?
Can we love our Muslim neighbors, or black neighbors, or Jewish neighbors, or transgender neighbors - neighbors we are called to love - if we fear them?
When we give in to love, fear goes away. Where can it possibly exist in love?
- Who do you fear? How can you journey through that fear toward love?
- Have you experienced fear as an opposite to love?
Holy One, lead me, push me, pull me, prompt me along this journey of faith. Keep my footsteps sure and my eyes fixed on the places you would send me. Amen