Friday 10 January 2014

Bible Book:
1 John

1 John 4:17-21 Friday 10 January 2014


There are two points in today's passage:

  • the relationship between love and fear
  • the relationship between love for God and love for others.

To say that there is no fear in love does not imply that thebeliever will miraculously overcome the fear of spiders or offlying! The writer means specifically that there is no need to fearGod's punishment on the day of judgement. And yet, so manyChristians find it hard to accept God's unconditional love for themand spend their lives constantly trying harder to make God lovethem a bit more. So this passage can easily become another stickwith which to beat ourselves: we still retain a lingering fear thatwe are worthless and therefore we have not reached perfection inlove. But, in fact, this is the wrong way round to see therelationship between fear and love. Fear is all too human and isnot magically eradicated by love; rather, the deep conviction ofGod's unconditional, all-encompassing love for us gives us astrength, which is beyond out human capacity, to resist ourfear.

The writer also wants to make clear that love is not completeunless it is extended to others. We are unable to love others onour own initiative, however: "We love because he first loved us".Love comes from God to us and is returned from us to God. But asGod is also loving every other one of God's own children, that lovecannot be complete unless we too love other people. The Welshscholar and theologian C H Dodd wrote, "The energy of lovedischarges itself along lines which form a triangle, whose pointsare God, self, and neighbour." This is essential, since so many ofus catch a glimpse of God's love through the love shown them byother people. This, then, is another test of genuineness of faithand of teaching; faith is only true if love for God is accompaniedby love for others.

To Ponder

  • What is your worst fear? Spend some time acknowledging thatfear and allowing God to meet it with God's unfailing love.
  • How have you caught a glimpse of God's love through the loveshown you by another human being?
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