And we have come to know and believe (ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν) the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness (παρρησίαν) in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear (φόβος) in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves/has torment (κόλασιν ἔχει). But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love him because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4: 16-19)

It is one thing, merely to say, “God is love.” It is quite a different thing, to “come to know” and also to come to “believe,” that God truly loves “us,” specifically you and me, and to trust in that love through our ups and downs. What St. John is saying here is that the reason we slip into various forms of “fear,” say, of financial insecurity, or of rejection and abandonment, is that we don’t really believe that God loves us. Instead we succumb to the quiet conviction that He’s out to “torment” us, because we project onto God our own lack of love and lack of forgiveness of ourselves. Hence we end up, sometimes quite subtly, rejecting God’s love and choosing merely-human “fear.” In this state we become crippled in our communion with God, lacking the “boldness” (παρρησία, дерзновение) to approach Him and let Him into our lives. And this makes sense, because who would want to let a “tormenting” God into his or her life?

This morning let me open my heart to God’s love, rejecting our kind of “fear” and embracing His kind of “boldness.” Let me pray as Christ prayed with us, and invited all of us, with no exceptions, to pray with Him: “Our Father, Who art in heaven!” Let me let myself love Him today, because He first loved me.

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