Summary: In part 1 of this series about Love Without Limits, Dave looks at the connection between love and fear, showing how that connection operates in individuals and in the church as an organization.

Love vs. Fear

Love Without Limits, prt. 1

Wildwind Community Church

David Flowers

January 2, 2010

1 John 4:18 (TM)

18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

This is not a sermon about fear, it is a sermon (in fact an entire series) about love. I have talked to you enough about fear in this past year and I frankly don't think fear needs any more air time. :-) But today I want to talk to you about love and contrast a life of love with a life of fear. I have said before and I'll say again, I believe fear is one of mankind's primary emotions. We've gone over the devastating effects of fear in previous messages, and one thing we know fear does is it keeps us from being vulnerable. There are so many movies and TV shows that are based around a man (or less often a woman) with a fear of commitment. A fear of commitment is a fear of giving one's self to another. If one never gives one's self to another, one can never be really loved. For me to be really loved, I must commit to someone and allow her to know me. When I do this, she will soon see parts of me I'd rather she not see. She will see my insecurities, my fears, my doubts, my darkness, my idiosyncrasies -- basically, she will soon come to see that I am broken. It will be not long before she comes to know how truly I have fallen and cannot get up.

Fear is a barrier to love. If I am afraid to be vulnerable to another person and allow her to love me, than I will also be afraid to love her deeply. Loving someone deeply requires intimacy, doesn't it? And intimacy, again, requires vulnerability. If I try to love Christy deeply, then she may try to love me deeply in return. So if I fear being deeply loved, I will avoid deeply loving others. So fear is a barrier to love, keeping us both from fully loving and from fully being loved.

Now the strange thing is, nearly every person will tell you that all he/she really wants is to be loved. But we don't so much want it as wish for it. When you wish for something, you hope someday, some way, by some chance, it appears like magic. Your wishes require nothing of you. But when you truly want something, you set a goal, and begin working toward getting what it is that you want. Your wants cost you something. Sometimes a lot. So it is true that nearly every person wishes to be loved, but I don't think many people actually want it. And the proof that most people do not actually want it is that even though love is available to them (from God, from friends and family who care for them, etc.), they refuse to live in it, and/or are unable to see it all around. Many people, in fact, mistake the love of others for manipulation. Rather than receiving and living in love, they are actually suspicious of it. Suspicion of the love of others can only occur in the heart that itself does not truly love.

So all of this is why the Apostle John wrote those words,

1 John 4:18 (TM)

18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

There is no room in love for fear. We are not reading here simply that love diminishes the hold of fear, or that love makes fear appear less desirable, or that love is better than fear. What we are reading here is that there is no room in love for fear. What we are reading here is that the more you love, the less you will fear, and the more you fear, the less you will love. This connection between love and fear should not be taken lightly. It is easy to gloss it over, but what if we take it literally?

Next time you are arguing with someone you claim to love, and you find yourself feeling defensive and hostile, that is fear. Make no mistake - it is already down there. Then you hear words, or catch a look, which creates fear in you - fear that you are not loved, fear that you are not respected, fear that you are not taken seriously, fear that you are being shut down, fear that you are being misunderstood or taken for granted. This fear is already there. Now if we are feeling fearful, chances are very good that the same fear we are already experiencing will keep us from simply coming out and saying, "I am feeling fearful right now that you do not respect me, or fearful that you do not really love me." We will almost certainly not say this because that would increase our vulnerability, so we cover our fear with anger. We lash out at the other person. We criticize or blame them, anything to get the attention off of us and onto someone or something else. Scripture says fear is crippling, and so it is. At that moment, in the presence of someone who loves us and is committed to us, we become fearful that we are not really loved. We actually feel unloved even though we know the other person loves us. And so, in the presence of one who loves us, we are crippled by our fear (and that other person often is as well), and we respond with hurt, with anger, with hostility, irritability, defensiveness, blaming, or whatever tool we can find on hand at the moment. Sometimes we can't think of any other tool to use, and that's when we take what we often call a cheap shot. It's some random, hurtful thing we say that is designed for only one purpose - to hurt the other person and get the uncomfortable spotlight off our ourselves and our own behavior. When we take cheap shots, we reveal how desperate we are, as we flail around for anything at all we can use to fire back.

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