I was born in innocence and ignorance, but I soon learned to fear. Look both ways before crossing the street, or a car will run over you. Seek shelter from the storm, or lightning will strike you dead. Don’t smoke, or you’ll die from cancer next week.
There were times when fear would have kept me out of trouble, had I not been like so many men, walking where angels fear to tread. I needed to learn what to fear and what not to fear.
One day, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat during a violent storm (Mark 4:35–41). The disciples came to him, sure they were about to die. After calming the storm, he said they lacked faith. Apart from God, the disciples did well to fear, but if they had fully understood God’s love for them, they had no need to fear.
This clause is often quoted from the Bible: “Perfect love casteth out fear.” I wonder if we understand what the apostle John was saying. Maybe the following perspective would reveal what we need to understand:
The fullness of our love for God leaves us no reason to cringe in fear of him. That’s because the fear is based on our anticipation of his punishment, which is impossible when our love in him is complete. — 1 John 4:18