Posts Tagged ‘perfect love’

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I understand that hate and love cannot co-exist but I never considered that fear cannot live with love either. That’s why “perfect love drives out fear,” they cannot occupy the same space. They are contradictions.

I John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

And further then, fear is a type of anticipation of punishment. How I understand it today, I expect or deserve punishment/pain because of a behavior, decision, or lifestyle. I literally expect something bad to happen when I am afraid, that’s why the fear exists.

I am usually afraid of heights. Why? Because I subconsciously believe I will fall down, drop from that great height, and suffer immeasurably. My expectation is a negative result.

I become afraid in dark areas, small spaces, unknown neighborhoods, heavy wind, unanticipated illnesses, unfamiliar aches and pains, thugs, and so on. Each one, in and of itself, is nothing until I endow it with my fear and my anticipation of pain or loss.

Instead, I could be filling my heart with the love of that God who has promised all good, who has declared sovereignty in my life, who has made covenant with me through Christ.

The trick is to accept those circumstances that have created fear historically in my life and re-tool them by the presence of the Holy Spirit, that love agent in my soul, that abounding presence of Grace. I must learn how to release the fear. I am the one holding on to the familiar.

In recent days, I have been suffering with a condition called “dry eye.” It’s not life-threatening but quite annoying and of course, my old self has taken it to the worst case: blindness and loss. It’s not even a medical prediction that dry eye leads to blindness. This is the fear talking. Again.

Everything in my life, because of the best deal I ever made in my life, with the Christ and invitation to co-dwell with the Holy Spirit, everything is for my good: all of it and everyone who shares it with me. Such a simple equation.

I fear for my children’s future, but even that, I must place in a bubble and blow away. My love for them will carry them further than my fears.

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Never say never but don’t hesitate to say “always” and “continually?” Doesn’t seem quite fair but there it is. In this section of Thessalonians, Paul gives a long list of instructions, straightforward and direct but how do I follow them? Can’t. So what is my appropriate response?

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I guess it’s important to know the ideal and the perfect, but it also makes the difference between me and that goal so expansive, so blatantly unreachable that I’m a deer in the headlights.

This is where the Christ stands in the gap.

And yet, just because there is One willing to pray when I stop or rejoice when I give up does not mean I don’t have a responsibility to pursue the “always.” In fact, it’s the opposite. I have to want it. I have to want the manifestation of perfect through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. How else do I become mindful, or conscious, or intentional about transforming?

Is anything perfect? Is nature perfect? Is the sunset or the waning moon or the waves that crash on a beach day in and day out perfect?

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” [Romans 8:20b-21]

We’re in this together. You, me, earth and all the rest.

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Perfectionism, in and of itself, is a bane. So, why in the world would Paul lay this mandate on the Corinthian churches? Of course, Jesus did the same thing in Matthew 5:48, “be perfect.” It must be internal excellence then and not external behaviors.

II Corinthians 13:11b
. . . Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

In other words, aiming for perfection within is a good thing. And how do I do that? It’s what we’re all supposed to be about.

Christ within, the ultimate perfection, illuminating the path. Isn’t that the point? Becoming like Jesus is first and foremost about the interior life which then transforms the exterior–our behaviors respond to our thoughts and spirit. Where we make mistakes: sin, judge, and break basic commandments, we are given insight (hints) into the kind of work that must be done inside.

Until the “why” of my choices is understood and healed, my conduct will fall back to habits.

My college age daughter does not drive a car. She is afraid and anxious and these feelings override any desire she might have to learn. Something has to change within before she will make this leap. I have been saying to her to keep practicing; her fears will dissipate the more she drives. But then, she had an accident in a parking lot and before that, a tire blew out when she jumped a curb. Her practice alone is not working.

This is really no different from any of the behaviors I want to see reconstructed. I tend to judge others. Oh, I can say that I will not judge today. I will practice not judging. But what is making me judge? My own insecurities? My pride? My fear?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear . . . [I John 4:18a]

I love the Christ whose Spirit is within me. That same Spirit of Christ is within others as well. How can I love my personal version and not the one outside myself?

Perfect: conforming to an ideal.

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