If I would ask an individual what the opposite of love is, it’s likely they would say “hate”. Although, I would contend that hate is only a fruit of love’s antonym and not the root. The Scriptures state that “there is no fear in love; but [complete] love casts out fear; because fear has [punishment with it]. He that fears is not made [complete] in love” (1 John 4:18, Strong’s G2849/G2851/G5046).
While love does not room with fear, complete love confronts and casts out fear, wherever it is. It appears that it is possible to have God’s love operating in our lives, but not possess maturity in God’s love, causing us to not confront and cast out fear. Hence, a mature flow of God’s love in and through our hearts causes a third party to become involved. For the sake of this writing, I will be using “complete”, “wholesome”, and “mature” interchangeably. Here’s an example of what I mean: let’s say Alan possesses love that is given by God – two parties. Since Alan is not operating in mature love, he does not confront and cast out fear. On the other hand, let us meet Alan operating in COMPLETE love. He is compelled by God’s complete love to confront and cast out fear, which was not resident with Alan since the beginning. Alan must be drawn to Brian (3rd party), in order for God’s complete love to become evident and impact Brian and his challenge with fear. God’s complete, mature love is only achieved when a third party is involved. I believe this is why John said that if a man does not love a fellow believer whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20). John sets the foundation in verse 12 stating that “if we love one another, God [actively] dwells in us, and His love is [continuously MADE COMPLETE] in us”. So in order for us to grow from God’s love to God’s complete love, we ought to simply exercise the initial love of God we receive, as a seed sown into the lives of others – because the process of giving, is the process of maturation in God’s love.
Now why bring vulnerability into all of this? I believe vulnerability is the human experience that acts as the middle pivot point which holds the seesaw of love and fear. How we handle our vulnerability is what can cause us to go further in God’s love or further into fear. Consider the moments where you have felt vulnerable. Why did you hesitate? Why did you feel the call to insecurity? Why did you begin to open the invitation to hide? Why did you feel fractured? And seek to become disengaged?
I believe it was because you began to feel the spirit of fear begin to beat its drum on the side of fear and not allow the Word and Spirit of God resound the beautiful tempest of truth on the side of love. I would not be afraid to say, that God’s love is terrifyingly beautiful. The terrifying portion being a product of the fact that God’s love meets us at the degree of our EXPOSURE – whether mental, spiritual, emotional, or even physical. God’s love is first manifested as a response to our exposure. This is a reason why the Scripture states that God demonstrated His love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus shows us His love at the highest degree of human exposure: the point where a human corrodes in their sin. Now let me quickly and simply define sin: “missing the mark” (Strong’s G266). I sin whenever I miss the mark. It could be a simple request from God, but me still miss doing it how He asked, by His means, not my own.
I define sin because even when dealing with our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we can sin by insisting on hiding from God. God is the epitome of patience. Yet, if we refuse to come before God with our vulnerabilities, we sin in His sight; for it is a good thing to come before God with our weaknesses (James 4:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
So we get to choose what we do with our vulnerabilities. Many people teeter and totter on this seesaw of love and fear, trying to bear some vulnerabilities with the love of God and others with the fear of exposure. When the truth is, vulnerabilities ought to be cast everyday, not carried (1 Peter 5:7). We must cast our vulnerabilities at the feet of Jesus, where we can walk towards the side of His love, to grow unto complete love and cast off fear behind us.
That is love, fear, and vulnerability in the context of Jesus and us. But here’s the additional layer that God uses to challenge us into growing with complete love.
The people closest to us.
These are the individuals that learn what makes us tick and what makes us ticked. And it’s possible that we would have more trouble being seen of others than being seen of God. It is possible we have more trouble being exposed to those closest to us than being exposed to God. There are many reasons why this can occur – whether it is a childhood experience, lack of effective communication, unhealed wounds, conflicting perspectives, and much more. Yet, God uses these relationships to produce COMPLETE love in our lives, because a third party is now involved. This is the valuable characteristic that God wants to produce in us: complete love.
So, on this weekend when many celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember to thank those who, with God’s complete love, have helped you confront fear in your life when you were in a vulnerable place.