So a few weeks ago, Pastor Nick was preaching and the following verse was on the big screen: I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect loves drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I have read that verse many times but that day the part that stopped me in my tracks was “because fear has to do with punishment”
We fear because we believe failure will bring God’s punishment. So imperfect love tells us to perform. If I am obedient, good, and righteous then God will love me, care for me, and bless me. If I am good, then I earn his love. If not, then I am like the world who is undeserving. This is a dangerous mentality that will lead us into self righteous religion based on our good and our SELF righteousness. Religion is not a place of Grace nor is it relational. Self-righteousness leads us to bitterness, anger and a judgmental attitude that causes us to constantly compare our Christianity with others. It creates an ever-raising bar of performance that we can never live up to. If we don’t receive what we perceive as God’s blessings, then we come to a place of self-loathing. Perfectionism that is never good enough. We began to fight anger and jealousy of those we perceive to not match up to the standard. We begin to fail to love our self much less others. We get depressed and defeated striving that much harder to perform exhausting ourselves with works. All the while, our Father points us to the cross and gently reminds us that all true righteousness was by grace and grace alone.
Perfect love does not keep records of wrongs each day is new and all righteousness is only by grace. Performance based self righteousness tries to negate the need for the cross, Grace only needs realness. If you fear failure or lack then ask yourself why. God is not a judge of performance he sees our heart.