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Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. 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.
1 John 4:17-18

Do you have any phobias, an excessive fear of something? I claim a couple of phobias, including ophidiophobia, “fear of snakes”. I am not staying around long enough to find out if a snake is poisonous or not, I’m getting out of there! But of the many phobias the most terrifying must be kolosisphobia, “fear of punishment”, especially God’s. Even more disabling, more terrifying than the fear of snakes, crowds, or tight spaces, is this fear of deserving God’s punishment.

Fear of God’s punishment was once a disabling phobia for me, far more troubling than any other phobia. But then, God’s Good News sunk in and set me free. I saw in Scripture that the Son of God took on our punishment so that we might forever be free from God’s punishment. We see this in today’s scripture as it assures that God’s “perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment.” This means that when we live free of fear of God’s punishment then God’s love for us has been made “perfect”! Because, as theologian Karl Barth said: “God is the Judge judged in our place.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1) In our place, Jesus bore our punishment!

So, if we as Christians experience fear of God’s punishment, we can be assured that this fear is not coming from God. Rather, this fear is coming from our own confused projections onto God and/or the lies of the Evil One, “the accuser of believers” (Revelation 12:10). Because of Jesus and all that He accomplished for us, “we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he [Christ] is, so are we in this world.” That means that today, as Christ is bold before His Father, so we can be bold before the Father. Thus, Jesus repeatedly says to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

May God’s perfect love for you and me cast out any fear from us today!

A fellow traveler,

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