The perfect Love that casts out fear
When I was a small child, in the summertime my mother would sit outside in the backyard in the early evening, and I would climb into her arms for cuddling. We both enjoyed the beautiful sunsets from our backyard, the cooing of the turtledoves, and the peace that would settle like a gentle hush at the close of the day. I felt so loved and cherished, embraced in my mother’s arms.
In my college years, however, when I was on my own, I faced a life-threatening illness that made me feel anything but loved. This condition made me feel so afraid to do anything that it was very difficult to function. At times I had an overwhelming and paralyzing feeling that at any moment my life might end. But I had seen beautiful healings in our family through Christian Science treatment and had heard countless testimonies of healing in church, and thinking about this gave me confidence that this illness, too, could be healed through prayer.
I had Christian Science treatment from a Christian Science practitioner, and I was praying too, searching the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, with all my heart for the healing light of divine Truth. There I discovered spiritual ideas that brought comfort and peace and gave me hope to press on.
Psalm 53 states, “There were they in great fear, where no fear was” (verse 5). That may sound impossible, but the first chapter of the Bible reveals God as the only creator and His creation as totally good. If God is totally good, what is there to fear? And if God made everything, where did fear originate? It could not come from God, good. Following this line of reasoning, I saw that anything we might be afraid of can be challenged as having no real origin, authority, or power.
The Bible’s first mention of fear is in the third chapter of Genesis—part of the Adam and Eve allegory. This allegory, which begins with Genesis 2, verse 4, presents the dualistic belief that both good and evil are real, whereas in the first chapter of Genesis there is only good. Genesis 2 presents God as warning Adam that eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death. So after Adam and Eve had eaten this fruit, they experienced fear.
I found these ideas very helpful. I reasoned that my true identity as a child of God was no fearful Eve-woman that would be tempted by evil and experience death, but rather the “very good” spiritual image and likeness of God that defines man in Genesis 1. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes this ideal, spiritual man and woman this way: “The ideal man corresponds to creation, to intelligence, and to Truth. The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love” (Science and Health, p. 517). This meant that my womanhood expressed everlasting divine Life and Love, universal and impartial. My identity was neither tempted by evil nor bound in fear, but expressed all the pure qualities of God, who is Love, Life, and Truth.
Whatever we might be afraid of can be challenged as having no real origin, authority, or power.
Christian Science also teaches that God is Mind—the one, infinite Mind or intelligence. I reasoned that if God is the only Mind and I reflect that Mind as God’s child, then I have no separate mind with which to be tempted or afraid. I was beginning to see that none of my fears were coming from God, and that therefore they were nothing.
My go-to Bible verse at this time was this assurance: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18). The Love that is perfect, complete, is God—divine, invariable Principle. Wherever I was, the Love that is God was there loving me, and the Life that is God was there living me. I couldn’t step outside of infinite Love. Fear began to disappear as I saw that even as I was struggling, divine Love was speaking to me all the while, saying, “Dear one, just let Me show you what Love looks like.” I saw new views of divine Love, and found that it “looks like” health, wholeness, freedom, peace, completeness, life everlasting.
Jesus lovingly told his followers many times not to be afraid, as in this statement: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The word peace in this verse is translated from a Greek word meaning “quietness, rest, +set at one again” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). To me this means that the Christ—the spiritual idea of God that Jesus so fully embodied—sets us “at one again” by showing us that we have never been separated from Love, God. It shows us that right when we feel so disconnected from God, trying to live a life on our own like a solitary ray of light trying to shine on its own, we are actually one with Love. As a ray of light is one with the sun, we are one with God, our invariable divine Principle, who is caring for and sustaining our individual being. This is the peace of God that the Christ reveals. When we know this, how could our hearts be troubled or afraid?
In Jesus’ statement, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), the word free means “exempt (from mortal liability)” (Strong’s). Wow! What a light of inspiration! Fear seems to be justified because it suggests mortal liability—that we are liable to accidents, disease, death, lack, etc. But the truth is, we are beloved, immortal children of God and thus exempt from this type of liability! We are born of God, of Love itself, and knowing this truth frees us from whatever the world would toss at us as a liability.
It is not so much about being loved, but about being Love’s expression.
In the first chapter of Genesis, creation is described as wholly good. One definition of the Hebrew word translated good in this chapter is “loving” (Strong’s). This seems to confirm that all of creation is the active, boundless expression of God, Love, individually expressed as divine ideas. So it is not so much about being loved, but about being Love’s expression and seeing God’s love reflected in all. Science and Health says: “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” (p. 520). Surely, this is the perfect Love that casts out fear.
In my case, the fear just melted away as I progressively saw more and more of the fullness of divine Love, which is All-in-all. I saw Love’s supremacy, leaving no room in my experience for fear of disease. And this brought complete healing. Science and Health explains, “When fear disappears, the foundation of disease is gone” (p. 368). The disease I’d been so afraid of quickly disappeared, and I was healthy and full of life. Love had surely revealed to me its tender and powerful presence, which had held me perfect in its loving embrace through the whole experience.
It’s been many years since I outgrew cuddling in the loving arms of my dear mother, but we can never outgrow the everlasting arms of our Father-Mother Love, holding us snug, whole, healthy, and secure. This is our forever home, the perfect Love in which we all live, now and always.