“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” – 1 John 4:18
How many of us grew up with the image of God as a disciplinarian? Perhaps growing up in a strict household, or ominous stories in the Old Testament, or our misinterpretation of languages such as “God-fearing” have shaped our perceptions. I grew up with the idea that life was one big test, not unlike a school exam: as long as I got more right answers / do good works than wrong answers / sin, I would pass and be admitted to heaven. So I developed a fear of the inevitable punishment from falling short. Even worse, I was at a time exasperated with the existential examination to the point of not wanting to participate any longer. My impression of God was molded by fear and frustration.
As with any of our image of God, our ideas and perceptions of Him constrain and place boundaries on the indescribable love and goodness He actually is. St. John writes, “God is love.” Can we possibly fathom the fullness of that statement? If we reflect on the one person in our life who we experience the purest love from and how we are fearless around him/her, fearless to the point of forgetfulness of ourselves, forgetful to whether we are saying the right things, doing what is pleasing, and appearing in the best light so that we are unabashedly our truest self…how much more so when we live to the fullest realization we are God’s beloved – that His love cast out our fears such that we can live fearless, unmasked, and authentic lives?
Lord, open my heart to receive your love and dispel my fears so that I may live courageously as my truest self.
Reflected by Michael Jamnongjit