There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment…
1 John 4:18
Lately, I have been reading the Word of God to let it reveal His character to me, who He is, what He thinks and it has led to some amazing discoveries. Not too long ago, I was talking with my daughter about the story of Jonah, when an idea “dawned” on me. Growing up Jonah was a bit of a scary story…don’t do what God says and a whale just might be the price of disobedience. I know many Christians look at that story and think Jonah ended up in the belly of a whale for outright disobeying God’s direction. Yet, as I sat talking with my daughter about the story and who God is (because I think it is very important to teach our children about the character of God, not just His “rules”), I suddenly had the thought, quite possibly heaven inspired, that God never told Jonah to jump ship. I decided to check that out in scripture and sure enough God did not tell Jonah to jump overboard…heck his shipmates didn’t want him to jump overboard. Jonah knew he disobeyed God out of fear and felt guilty and decided to punish himself. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
God had great compassion on a city of brokenness and told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to warn them. Yes, God has compassion. He didn’t have to send anyone to tell the people of Nineveh anything.
Jonah knew the city’s reputation and decided against doing what God said. Sure, God caused a storm to rock Jonah’s boat, but here is some food for thought:
God never told Jonah to throw himself overboard, right? I am pretty sure an apology and grabbing the next ship to Nineveh, quite possibly, would have sufficed, but Jonah got scared, jumped ship and… God’s plan was waiting in the water. Have you ever considered that God sent the whale to save Jonah’s life? When we sin, when we disobey, when we screw up…God’s plan is there waiting. Our first inclination is to punish ourselves, either verbally, mentally or even with a fast or even jumping ship and leaving church altogether. How about next time pushing aside fear and immediately going to God, getting into His presence and see what He says? Don’t take matters into your own hands, no self-punishment, and for crying out loud…no jumping ship!
What does Jonah’s life have to do with the scripture 1 John 4:18? Jonah’s fear sent him overboard (into a mindset of punishment) and in the opposite direction of God…the perfect love of God. God wants us to know He isn’t waiting to punish us (a VERY common misconception). Jesus took care of that, God is waiting to make us whole in His perfect love. Punishment and fear do not keep you on the right track for very long, knowing that you are loved no matter what…who wants to sin when they know that?
I love the phrase in this verse “drives out fear,” it is such a better phrase to me than say, “casts out.” It gives quite the mental image of who our God is…He doesn’t just “tell” fear to go, His love drives it out of our lives, because it has no place. Fear has no future, remember? You have a future according to Jeremiah 29:11 and therefore you and fear are incompatible. Period.
Remember, God loves us passionately and will use whatever He needs to rescue us from fear, circumstances, or ourselves…He’ll even use a whale in the water.