As humans, it is natural for many of us to avoid taking risks because we are fearful of the outcome. We often try to forecast our future in an attempt to control our present.
If I make the team, will I be more respected by my peers? If I don’t make the team, will I just become a laughingstock?
If I take that job, will I be able to move up the ladder quicker? If I lose this job, will I lose everything else too?
If I tell her I love her, will she love me back or will she reject me and leave me alone forever?
When we can’t clearly discern between risk and fear, we often become paralyzed by confusion. Our fear can cause us to isolate ourselves by shunning the risk of relationship (love) in a misguided effort to shield ourselves from pain and rejection.
But -- as we discussed in an earlier post -- rather than diminishing our pain and our fear, isolation actually increases these feelings and makes us vulnerable to the predators who prey on them.
If relationship -- or love, which in its purest form is God -- is the antithesis of isolation and by its very nature involves risk, and if risk is the antithesis of boredom -- which breeds fear -- then when we risk in the name of love (remember Who that is?), it actually drives fear away.
Sounds a bit counterintuitive, right?
Look at it this way:
True risk is calculating probable outcomes before taking action. You see, God took the first risk of love when He created us with the gift of free will. He did that so we could willingly love Him back, without obligation or fear (control).
True love gives without obligation or demands. God loved us so much that He gave us the choice to love Him back -- or not.
He calculated that we might not reciprocate His love, but He risked loving us anyway.
He knew we would break relationship with Him – and He offered us relationship anyway.
Before we even broke the relationship, He set a plan in motion to restore relationship -- He did it anyway.
He took the ultimate risk because of true love.
True love is choosing to pursue a relationship with no obligation of reciprocation. If reciprocation is a requirement of love, then that becomes a conditional control factor -- and we already know that controlling relationships are not loving relationships.
But this is all too often our human view of love -- that love is conditional on reciprocation.
If love is conditional on reciprocation, then the first step of loving another is one of both bravery and fear. It is brave to make the first move (choice) to love, but if that choice is conditional on reciprocation, then it is also accompanied by the fear that there may be no reciprocation.
Furthermore, if the sustaining of love is conditional on the sustaining of its reciprocation, there is always the fear that love may no longer be reciprocated (it is a choice, after all).
So what does it all mean?
A love based on fear (control) is not from the originator of love (God). We see this further demonstrated in the person of Jesus. If anyone on Earth ever demonstrated loving without obligation, it was Jesus. He loved even when He knew those He loved would betray and even murder Him -- but He did it anyway.
So risking to love without the obligation of reciprocation also removes the fear of rejection.
That, my friends, is why the risk of love actually drives away fear.
If you don’t believe me, read 1 John 4:18.
Now, to be clear, true love is deep and abiding. It is not something given or removed at a whim. The choice to love is a choice of commitment, a choice to join in the work of relationship. It is not given lightly, and should be treasured and protected as the greatest gift that it is. God first gave this gift, and we share this gift with others.
It all boils down to this:
- Relationship (love, God) is the antithesis of isolation, but requires risk
- Risk is the antithesis of boredom, but requires vulnerability
- Vulnerability in risking love diminishes fear, which in turn deprives the controlling influences that feast on fear
And this becomes the “AHA!” moment.
Because when you arrive at the place of discernment in which you lack fear, you have truly found freedom. If the purveyors of fear have no control over you, that is freedom indeed!
For those who need good news and hope, the message seems clear:
- God is love
- You were created by love
- Human beings exist to love, subsist on faith, and thrive on hope
These three remain, but the greatest of these is love.