Week 1 Day 6: Love that Casts Out Fear

“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.”
I John 4:18

Love that Casts Out Fear
We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.

-Br. Jonathan Maury



Transcript: In this week of our “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John,” we reflect on a text from the First Letter of John: “God is love.” And today we focus more directly on another verse from the First Letter of John: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Our human existence is plagued with fears. We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. We also deal day to day with our fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar, which comes up again and again in small ways. But it is in these fears that we forget the perfect love which casts out fear.

But I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have, the greatest fear that we have, is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.  When I feel myself to have, by my words or actions, caused my loss of the loving regard of others or of God, I’m already punishing myself with self-inflicted wounds. But what does the letter say? The letter says “there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment.” God is by nature that Perfect Love, the perfect love which comes in Jesus. Jesus’ actions and teachings are rooted in this truth. In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel we read Jesus speaking: “Now is my soul troubled and what should I say: Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this reason that I’ve come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Jesus knows that by keeping up relationship with God in prayer and in openness of heart, his fears will be calmed and dispelled and healed. And Jesus by example teaches us to rely also on relationship with God, who is the perfect love casting out fear. Let us pray today for Jesus to grant us memories of those times when our fears have been dispelled by the perfect love which casts out fear, by the remembrance of God which has come to us either in our life of prayer or in our relationships with others. And we might also bring our present fears before the Father, as Jesus brought his fear so that that perfect love which is God, God’s presence, may be imparted to us, that we may glorify God’s name this day in ways great and small, ways particular to us and reflect that perfect love which is without fear, that perfect love which is God.

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

44 Comments

  1. James on 02/19/2018 at 3:44 am

    Afraid of your ex-spouse, the bully down the street, your rival at work? Then learn to love them and your fears will vanish and courage will replace discouragement. It’s easier said than done, but God compels us to give it our best effort.

    I can’t help but to think of all those people on the Bachelor and Bachelorette TV series who always say that they believe they are falling in love and are nervous and scared. I always think how can anyone be afraid and in love at the same time. Doesn’t seem like love does it? At least the way John describes it in his letter.

    Fear is an emotion I never seek out. “Oh, let’s go looking for fear today”, is a phrase that will I never utter. Fear is indeed a punishment for me. However, there are many people who love a scary horror movie or white-knuckling the first precipitous drop of a roller coaster. Perhaps it’s because it is a controlled fear and they subconsciously know that no harm will befall them.

    Do you want to know if you’re really in love? Ask yourself, “Am I afraid”? If you are, then it’s not really love. This includes your love for God. God loves you fearlessly, can you say the same for yourself? If you say yes then you are headed toward perfect love and an everlasting relationship with The Lord.

  2. kevin on 02/18/2018 at 4:25 am

    how close can a human being actually get too perfect love.

    • James on 02/19/2018 at 4:04 am

      I believe it’s when you experience love without fear as John’s letter indicates.

  3. John G. on 02/18/2018 at 12:33 am

    John David, thanks for pointing out that our fear can be greater than the thing we fear. I have a fear of public speaking because of unsuccessful experiences in the past. I am taking on another speaking assignment next week and have experienced a lot of fear about it. My fear is mostly ego, concern that I am not enough to be a discussion leader. But I have already worked many hours on my presentation and done the best I could. It is time to remember that God’s love casts out fear, to trust God and hope that God will shine his light on all who participate in the upcoming discussion. I will take your suggestion of thanking God for this opportunity to trust him for the benefit others.

  4. Vanessa Rose on 02/18/2018 at 12:09 am

    Thank you Brother Jonathan: I will keep all of us in my prayers during this study in “Meeting Jesus”. I appreciate with thanksgiving your wisdom, grace and guidance.

  5. Vanessa Rose on 02/17/2018 at 11:58 pm

    Thank you Brother, for you words of wisdom and to remind us of God’s love for each of us. The prayer you offer is wonderful. The absence of fear is LOVE. We often need to ‘get out of our own way’ when our fragile selves let fear interfere. the question is often to the degree of this fear acknowledging it but ‘moving on’, letting GO and letting GOD’. Grace, wisdom, strength are all found at HiS Holy table and his blessed sacrament.

  6. Nancy on 02/17/2018 at 7:19 pm

    So good to hear your voice Jonathan! And a timely message for me this lent. Thank you.🙏🏻❤️

  7. Barb Bixby on 02/17/2018 at 6:35 pm

    Loving, beautiful, focused. Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Blessings to SSJE for providing this daily moment for a holy Lent.

  8. John David Spangler on 02/17/2018 at 6:09 pm

    In thinking about fear, the first thing that came to mind was Churchill’s warning that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear is defined as anxiety or to be afraid of. That God casts out fear confirms the wisdom of his words. When we become afraid our problem is remembering that He does. More often than not whatever we may face is less of a problem than the fear of facing it. I have found that the best way to confront fear, or indeed any problem, is to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. By doing so any fears are dissolved.

  9. ecarsey@comcast.net on 02/17/2018 at 7:02 am

    I think that we have no need to fear God’s perfect love in spite of the fact that, at least in some ways, “Love dismembers before it makes whole,” as Jungian therapist Helen Luke has said. This is no superficial relationship, however, to which we are being invited. In order to receive the fullness of a love relationship, one has to trustingly, vulnerably, honestly, and courageously engage with the Lover and the Lover’s concerns and desire. When one is standing outside of this love relationship, not fully committed to it, it can appear frightening.

  10. Rhode on 02/17/2018 at 3:41 am

    When I was 19 – 25 yrs old I was plagued by major league anxiety issues. Frequent trips to the ER for sedation (these were pre-anxiety med years) robbed me emotionally, physically, financially. One day, in the Hospital, I decided I no longer wanted to live and questioned out loud – ‘IF you are real (God) and listening please take this from me and I will try to figure out why I got this way” — a poor bargaining prayer. It was all I could think to say since my mind and body were paralyzed by fear. Within the minute, my mind cleared, my body stopped being numb and I felt like I could get up and walk out of the ER. So I did. I really did not know I had been ‘healed’ until months of symptom free living later, then years of it. Drs. and friends have offered alternative explanations for what happened and I understand how I could have manifested my own healing… but, I am 64 now and I still choose to believe God was there for me that day, that vital moment in 1973… because He is still with me today. My fears brought me before God broken and receptive. Life free of pain, free from sorrow, free from fear, free from death is not human. Learning how much God loves each unique one of us and how, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, His grace guides us into replacing our fears with hope and trust…this is the lifelong gift – this is lifelong healing – this is the perfect love casting out fears.

    • Suzanne Haraburd on 02/17/2018 at 4:09 am

      Beautiful testimony. Thank you.

  11. Beverly on 02/16/2018 at 11:19 pm

    “… the greatest fear that we have is losing the loving regard of those close to us…” This is so true for me, and I realize I can fear that even more than the loss of God’s love (which I do believe is eternal). On no, holding on to, defending, the loving regard of others is one more of the idols I worship! Not a happy thought, but an important realization. All the more reason to seek—in every moment—to let the “perfect love” of the Divine Indwelling live through my choices and my actions.

  12. Jaan Sass on 02/16/2018 at 11:10 pm

    His love casts out all fear this phrase is difficult for me. I have depression and anxiety issues. Fear is, unfortunately, part of that package. The biggest fear that I have is rejection from the people who love me most and ultimately God. I know all of this not true but the emotional storms are convincing at times and I withdraw from everyone. I want this to be true in my life.

  13. Helen on 02/16/2018 at 10:50 pm

    This verse always confuses me. I believe that God’s love cast out fear. So I pray that God never leaves me and helps me to feel and understand that love.

    • Vanessa Rose on 02/18/2018 at 12:06 am

      Helen, if I can offer some comfort in my own journey with God. Each of us reply on scholars and our ministers of the church to enable us to understand and make the Scriptures relevant in our lives. God’s love cast out fear, means that it will be broken down and dispelled that is: fear will be more, for HIS love can concur all!. God is always with us where we are at any time. Perhaps a simple prayer “God be with me today in my waking hour and I the falling asleep at the end of the day”. Perhaps write it down (this makes it concrete and put in your pocket or a favourite place in your dwelling.

      • Vanessa Rose on 02/18/2018 at 12:07 am

        “Fear will be NO more”…sorry for the typo.

  14. Peter J Parker on 02/16/2018 at 10:34 pm

    So often I hear people wishing to punish others, diminish them, exclude them, get rid of them or the thing they stand for. It is so helpful to see through that judgmental stance to the fear beneath it; the fear of being punished, of losing approval. Have they learned of the pain of disapproval from some very conditional love shown to them by parents?

  15. Mary 85 on 02/16/2018 at 9:30 pm

    Because God’s perfect love casts out fear, the following is one of my favorite Bible verses:
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. “

  16. David Ames on 02/16/2018 at 9:18 pm

    I agree with you that we can cast out fear by questioning the 2nd Amendment, but it must go further than that. We must enact gun legislation that prevents people from owning semi-automatic and automatic weapons. If we are to do God’s loving work, then we must act as well as pray. I’m a university professor and every single day I go to teach, I go with a fear that there will be a shooter on our campus. Sometimes the fear is greater, sometimes lesser. I cast out my fear because I must spiritually and materially. Part of loving others is pursuing my calling and giving students my mentorship. I grieve profoundly for all those beautiful souls who should be in school right now, without fear, in a sanctuary where the faculty feel safe and free to teach and the students feel safe and free to learn and pursue their dreams and their callings. I grieve also for the parents and the loved ones who will carry this loss and trauma with them for the rest of their lives.

  17. David Ames on 02/16/2018 at 9:03 pm

    Yes, “Perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment.” I can affirm the first portion of this verse, but not the second. All the school children, especially those in Florida yesterday, who live in fear are not fearful because of punishment. Their fear is about guns and the fact that it is so easy for someone to acquire an assault weapon and kill so many of their colleagues. We can cast out fear by realizing that the 2nd Amendment has limits; it had to do with a militia for protecting citizens, not an unbridled individual right to own weapons and use them to kill fellow human beings. How do we instill God’s love in a way that casts out fear? Can we teach children that all life is risk and that to be human is to be vulnerable? That’s a hard lesson for children. The best we can do is to assure them, and to reassure ourselves, that they are loved by parents, teachers, friends and even strangers, especially as do acts of kindness toward others.

    • David Ames on 02/16/2018 at 9:18 pm

      I agree with you that we can cast out fear by questioning the 2nd Amendment, but it must go further than that. We must enact gun legislation that prevents people from owning semi-automatic and automatic weapons. If we are to do God’s loving work, then we must act as well as pray. I’m a university professor and every single day I go to teach, I go with a fear that there will be a shooter on our campus. Sometimes the fear is greater, sometimes lesser. I cast out my fear because I must spiritually and materially. Part of loving others is pursuing my calling and giving students my mentorship. I grieve profoundly for all those beautiful souls who should be in school right now, without fear, in a sanctuary where the faculty feel safe and free to teach and the students feel safe and free to learn and pursue their dreams and their callings. I grieve also for the parents and the loved ones who will carry this loss and trauma with them for the rest of their lives.

      • David Ames on 02/18/2018 at 4:07 am

        Thank you for your reply. I agree with you that we must act to ban semi- and automtatic weapons. I needed to be more specific when I referred to 2nd Amendment limits. However, I would go even further — I don’t believe guns have a.place in a democratic society. I might make an exception for single shot hunting rifles, but even that is a word of caution as I favor protecting animal life. My heart goes out to you as a school teacher and to all the grieving families who have lost their children. Losing a child through violent acts is the most difficult experience parents must endure. I have taught college students and appreciate that all students of evey age should feel safe in our institutions and everywhere in society. My best regards for you in your teaching and mentoring of our students.

    • Aliki D Barnstone on 02/17/2018 at 2:31 am

      I agree with you that we can cast out fear by questioning the 2nd Amendment, but it must go further than that. We must enact gun legislation that prevents people from owning semi-automatic and automatic weapons. If we are to do God’s loving work, then we must act as well as pray. I’m a university professor and every single day I go to teach, I go with a fear that there will be a shooter on our campus. Sometimes the fear is greater, sometimes lesser. I cast out my fear because I must spiritually and materially. Part of loving others is pursuing my calling and giving students my mentorship. I grieve profoundly for all those beautiful souls who should be in school right now, without fear, in a sanctuary where the faculty feel safe and free to teach and the students feel safe and free to learn and pursue their dreams and their callings. I grieve also for the parents and the loved ones who will carry this loss and trauma with them for the rest of their lives.

  18. Michael on 02/16/2018 at 8:14 pm

    As I read comments day after day, I’m always struck by how so many quote the Bible to support or refute some point. I rarely read the Bible. This is not as a condemning or supporting statement, but merely as a fact. My prayers are conversations with God and periods of silence when I attempt to hear his voice. It’s what I seem to understand. Maybe it is my arrogance, but I’m hoping this is enough. The verses and scripture are often too confusing and leaving wondering what was meant, or what I’m supposed to do next. In some way I suppose I fear I’m doing something counter productive and not working toward a greater understanding of God and myself, but I belief God applauds my feeble attempt and that’s has to count for something as well as supports the notion that God has a strong sense of humor

    • Jennifer on 02/18/2018 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks so much Michael, your comments are inspiring. I am one of those who are reminded of scripture when I pray. I suppose it is because when I first believed in the gospel I spent many years with my children in a bible club where bible verses were read and memorized. Over the the past 30+ years since then I have heard the bible read in church and studied it in group bible studies. I am not sure if the verses that come to mind during this Lenten study are “theologically correct” and necessarily apply to the discussion but for some reason they come to mind and I share them here 🙂

  19. Bobbi on 02/16/2018 at 8:13 pm

    “But I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have, the greatest fear that we have, is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.” When I first listened to this comment by Br. Jonathan I thought, ‘No, that’s not me.” But in praying on it, I realized, “Yes, it is me, playing God.” When I do something that feels wrong, I fear I may lose the love of others because I have let my ego become god.

  20. Wendy on 02/16/2018 at 8:01 pm

    I struggled with this one. The assert of one person’s belief of what our greatest fear is –losing regard by those close-was intrusive for me and disruptive to the day one reflection on conditions. I am not being critical … just sharing that I personally struggled with that idea.

  21. Jennifer on 02/16/2018 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you for this message and invitation to think about these important themes. I am thankful for many times that God has dispelled my fears and anxieties when I turn to Him for guidance and He directs me to bible verses that meet my deepest needs. I can cast my cares upon Him because He cares for me. My circumstances may not change but my thoughts and anxieties about the situation changes when I cast my cares upon Him because I know and trust he cares about me. Jesus said in Matthew 10 that I am of great value and that “every hair of my head is numbered”.
    When I was growing up the worldview of my culture and the people who influenced me before I knew I was a child of God made it very difficult as a 26 year old women to listen to and follow God’s messages to me in the bible. There have been many times when the bible has been really difficult to follow because it went against my natural inclinations and worldview. But God was able to heal my hurts, help me learn to trust Him, and trust that following Jesus is the best way. I fought against God on many issues but found there is great peace in trusting and obeying His way of living this life instead of sticking to my own way of doing things according to my worldview that previously kept God’s influence out of my life. Like the song “trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus – than to trust and obey. http://youtu.be/BtKtpA0MZaI

  22. Virginia on 02/16/2018 at 7:14 pm

    This was a very helpful meditation for me, for I have vowed to surrender my many anxieties, fears, for one of my Lenten disciplines–not easy–worrying about tomorrow comes easily to me! But, because of this meditation, I realized that I was focusing on MYSELF as the source of Perfect Love–striving to be more “perfect”. Thank you, Brother, for pointing out to me that GOD is PERFECT LOVE. My focus needs to be on GOD, not on my self.
    Already I feel more at peace.

    • Vanessa Rose on 02/17/2018 at 11:51 pm

      That is wonderful Virginia, well, this brought me to focus on Matthew 6: 28 “Lillies of the Field””
      “Why are you anxious about clothing?
      Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
      They don’t toil, neither do they spin”. Sometimes we need to be reminded and to get out of own way.
      God is patient and kind and thank you for sharing your thoughts…….you were an inspiration.

    • David Jones on 02/19/2018 at 11:20 am

      Thanks for sharing Virginia

  23. Lynn on 02/16/2018 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan. That was beautiful and so true.

  24. Bryan Cook on 02/16/2018 at 6:36 pm

    Fear can be healthy if it leads to caution with the goal of preservation of life, husbanding this earth and caring for all living beings. Fear can be destructive if it leads to overwhelming anxiety and depression accompanied by self- and over-medication, destruction of self and others and , indeed, the commission of the “seven deadly sins”. God’s love and wisdom enables me now to tell the difference and act accordingly. I always take the time, often in fear, to say the serenity prayer…” God grant me the serenity ( which is in unconditional love) to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. So often. mountains become molehills.

  25. Susan on 02/16/2018 at 6:28 pm

    I am broken in my body. I need courage to mourn my brokenness and move out of it to the light. I need not fear for God’s love for me.

    • Jennifer on 02/16/2018 at 8:07 pm

      My heart goes out to you Susan. I am praying for healing of your body and peace in your soul as you move out of feelings of brokenness into the light.

  26. Jennifer Stuart on 02/16/2018 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you Brother Maury, for so beautifully naming the abyss that many experience. This separation from others and God brings profound pain. In this earthly world where violation and violence darkens our humanity living into God’s love means having the courage to reach out to another. Overcoming our fear and distrust to walk the bridge of grace. Hope and love perhaps become inseparable.

    • Chris on 02/16/2018 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks Jennifer (& Br Maury). There is a paradox here. Where people around us are not used to holding others’ pain or distress (thus either backing away or trying to fix us). We are left not knowing (with resultant fear/anxiety) how much we can trust/be vulnerable without losing those valuable connections with people. We hear it said that God calls us to more openness and vulnerability, but when we venture out in trust, our experience reinforces our fear and teaches us it is safer to hold back!?

  27. Ruth rogers on 02/16/2018 at 4:32 pm

    God love is uncontional the fear is the unknown what may happen I need to trust in god love and believe in his presence the unknowing is the fear I and tobretember god presence is here always

  28. Keith Aldred on 02/16/2018 at 3:06 pm

    God’s love is beyond man’s understanding. Give us the faith to trust, knowing that He knows us as His children.

  29. Lisa Sutherland on 02/16/2018 at 3:03 pm

    I found this very comforting.
    I inflict pain on myself by thinking wrongly that i will loose other’s love. Its not true. Just that anxiety is my default button. So im handing it over to God now. Thankyou.

    • Jeanine on 02/17/2018 at 5:44 am

      Certainly fears of abandonment are kind of hard wired into our DNA. I think it was Mother Teresa that said that loneliness is the plague of this century and losing a relationship is certainly painful but I wonder if another fear that is prevalent in our society is that of not having control over our situations, lives, relationships and so on. When I have the most problem relying on God and feel fearful is when I am in a situation where I have no or little control and need to trust God for the outcome. When God seems distant at those times I seem to distance as well and do feel abandoned by God even though a part of me wants him to rescue me. Again this is the need for trust in God’s will which can be so challenging.

    • Marie M on 02/17/2018 at 7:46 am

      I’m enjoying this everyday…

      • Jean Whittredge on 02/17/2018 at 7:15 pm

        Dear Brothers. I got so much out of this week. Perfect love from Jesus really spoke to me as I journey with dear friends who have cancer God love helps my friend and root out fear. Thank you for your powerful kind words!

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