“But as regards love, I am sure the Bible is right: the opposite of love is not hate but fear. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” William Sloane Coffin, pastor and peace activist, said this thinking about today’s passage.
Many would think that the opposite of love is, naturally, hate. But read verse 18 in today’s text…”There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” “Perfect love casts out fear”…this talks about the relationship between those who claim to believe in God who is creator and judge of the world. If we only see God as the God of power, demand and justice, then we will naturally lean to approaching God with fear.
However, if we understand God first as the God of love, perfect love, then we approach God with confidence. God’s love is perfect and our love is perfected because we trust in God’s love. “We love because he first loved us”. Reminds us of John 3:16. Pay attention to the verse…it does not say, we should love because he first loved us. It says that we can love because he first loved us…we have trust and confidence in God which says we can love without fear and in this, then, comes the basis for new possibilities like the subsequent verses in this passage.
Today, there are many in our world who think all there needs to be is love…to believe in love rather than God. Here in 1 John we see that love is a quality of God’s own self…love is personification…God is love, not, love is God. Our God is Love who does things like sending “his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
It seems to me that what the author of our passage was worried about was the concern that Christians, those who claim to love and follow Jesus, would think about their faith as truth and love without the foundation of knowing that the one on the cross was and is loving and true.