Hope for when love gets messy

Perfect love casts out fear.

You have heard it before, right?  Taken from 1 John 4:18, it’s a common phrase we keep in the back of our minds, a truth we hang on to.

I’m all for casting out fear, sign me right up for that, but what exactly does perfect love look like anyway?  I think I’m better suited for messy love than a perfect one.

I am better at the love that sometimes has strings attached, the love with expectations.  I do the love that gets frustrated, at times, with the people I care about most and the love that is occasionally self-seeking.  But perfect love?  I’m pretty sure I messed that one up long ago, and yet again just this morning.

So what is left for girls like me?  What is left for those of us who fail at perfect?

Recently I began to dig deeper into this verse and figure out what God is really saying.

Watch: Kirk and Chelsea Cameron share biblical principles for love and marriage

That perfect?  That’s not a flawless perfect.  Wrong definition.  That perfect means completed or fulfilled. That perfect means action.

The translated word for perfect here is the same root used in John 5:36.

“But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given me to finish – the very works I do – bear witness of Me, the Father has sent Me.”

See that word finish?  Same root as this perfect.

Stick with me here.  It is the same story in John 19:28.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst”.

See that word fulfilled? Again, same root.

So this perfect we are talking about in 1 John 4:18 isn’t the flawless kind of perfect, but more a sign of completion, of fulfillment, the action of working it out until it’s accomplished.  Still with me?

Love is a verb.  Verse 19 tells us we love Him because He first loved us.  Backing up to verse 12 and 13 we learn that because He abides in us, we can love others.  When we love others, His Spirit abides in us.  Are you getting a feel for how this connects?

He loves us.  We love him.  His Spirit abides in us.  We love others.  That loves is not flawless, that love is action. That action, drives out fear.  There is no room for fear when we are abiding in His love, when we are busy about the action of love.

John Piper puts it this way:

“The way to boldness, the way to confidence and fearlessness, is to walk love not just talk love. Love is perfected not when it is sinlessly flawless but when it passes from talk to walk.”

This is hope for all of us who love messy sometimes.  This is not a call to perfection, this is a call to action.

Out of His love for us, love pours out of us in a very real and tangible way.  And there is no fear, because love that is action leaves no room for it.

Because of Him, we can do this.  Because of His Spirit in us, we are capable of living an active and fearless love.  Let’s own that.  Fearlessly, daily, let’s own it.

This post originally appeared on SweetJesusMinistries.com and was republished with permission. 

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