The opposite of Love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. What does scripture say? Perfect love casts out:
Fluffy the vampire bat?
No, perfect love casts out fear.
Fear is the base emotion. One of the brain structures that is primary to our life is the amygdala. It is the section of the brain that deals with emotions. This brain structure receives important sensory and environmental information first so that the brain can prepare the body for fight or flight behaviors if necessary. It is a base structure. The base emotion that triggers our fight or flight reaction is fear. And primarily, it is the fear of the unknown. If you are camping in the woods and hear a branch snap, your body reacts by freezing, as if you are dead. That happens because of fear… fear of the unknown. Fear causes that physical reaction.
However, fear’s bark is bigger than its bite. At least in most cases. A shotgun pointed to your face by a serial killer is not one of those cases. However, most of our fears are not that dramatic. Most of our fears center around change, or what could happen in a particular situation. For instance, we may be afraid to ask for a raise because we are afraid that if we do, instead of getting the raise our employer may actually fire us. A person may be afraid to go down a water slide because part of it is enclosed. Whether it is claustrophobia or fear of the dark or fear that the slide will fall, some people cannot get past this fear. We may say those are irrational fears, but in the mind of the person, they are very real.
Fears hold a great deal of power because we are primarily emotional beings. When there is fear, a primary emotion, then our behavior will reflect that fear.
This is why I think fear is the primary driver of maladjusted behavior. It all goes back to fear. When there is fear, the body will do something to compensate for that fear. It will either fight or run. Examples of fighting include lashing out verbally or physically attacking some person or some thing. Examples of running (or flight) include ignoring someone or self-medicating through food or drugs.
The biblcial prescription for this is love, primarily perfect love. Perfect love only comes from Jesus. Perfect love removes all fear. It creates a perfect place of safety. When the disciples and Jesus were crossing over the Galilean Sea, a storm arose. The disciples were afraid. Jesus was asleep. When they woke Jesus up, he immediately calmed the sea by saying, “Peace, be still”. The sea was immediately calm. Jesus had been able to sleep through this because he knew the perfect love of the Father. He was safe. It was that same love that was able to calm the sea and eliminate the fear of the disciples. He brought peace to the raging sea and the fear of the disciples.
When we know the perfect love of the Savior, we have no fear. We are fear-less. However, this takes time and relationship. It is only through God going all Job on us from time to time and having him provide exactly the way He promises that we are able to see our fear transformed by His love. We truly begin to trust God and that trust creates that safe place for us.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the absence of fear.
Thanks, Todd Littleton for the discussion this morning on this topic