Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fear and Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

Hate is usually considered the opposite of love. Some more discerning people have suggested that apathy, not hatred, is the opposite of love. Either of these could be correct, I suppose, depending on the definition of love and the context of the conversation.

The above verse from I John might suggest another way to understand what love is not. Love and fear cannot co-exist. Where thre is one, the other cannot be. I am not sure if that makes them opposites, but it is clear that they are not compaitble.

Fear produces nothing good. It is out of fear that one person abandons another. Fear is the root of betrayal. Fear is the fountainhead of violence. Fear is what makes selfishness make sense to a person. Only in a matrix of fear does selfishness appear to work.

Love, on the other hand, connects people. It is the motivation for truth and in fact is truth in its purest form. Love heals. love protects. Love makes certain that others are not merely considered, but exalted. Only in the matrix of love does selflessmess work or make sense. And there there is love, fear evacuates. Fear is afraid of love, but love is not afraid of fear.

There is no greater courage than that which love produces. Fear might produce a lot of energy, but it produces only the kind of cowardice energy that results in violence and self-destruction.

The way of love comes in part through the discipline of self-confrontation. The un-self-confronted life is not worth living. It is not worth living because fear thrives in the unexamined, unconfronted parts of the soul.

The discipline of self-confrontation is that which assumes that one is good and there are things which mar the goodness that must be confronted. It assumes that the self is the place to start with critique and change.

Self-confrontation must never be confused with self-condemnation. Where self-confrontation is driven by love, self-condemnation is driven by fear. Self-confrontation is about unearthing the good while self-condemnation is about punishing the bad. To the undiscerning eye, these two processes may appear to be identicle, but be assured that the end product of each is solid proff that they are opposites.

The love-driven self-confronter ends up as a better person, humbled and confident. The fear-driven self-condemner ends up a damaged person, and will become self-loathing or narcissistic (A derivitive of self-loathing).

Love is the only way.

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