There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18, TLV
Whoa. This verse is deep. Typically, folks — me included — don’t contextualize the “perfect love drives out fear.” Instead, we focus on God’s loves casts out fear. But the rest of the verse is pretty important. Why? Because it has to do with repentance.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother. (vss. 20-21)
Let’s face it, even though we may be brothers and sisters in Messiah, we don’t always get along. If things aren’t resolved, it can escalate into something worse. We may candy coat the offense, but if left untended it will turn into the unthinkable, hatred. And that means we cannot truly love God. That is a sin. And it requires repentance. Otherwise, our spirit will be fearful that we have an unrepentant sin.
If we’re feeling a fear that the thought of God’s perfect love cannot remove, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unresolved “hatred” or offense we have against someone. Then, as difficult as it may be, forgive, repent, and seek resolution and restoration.
These things do not mean we are in close fellowship again, but when we see them or we are together in services, that sense of offense or hatred should be gone. We will be free to love and receive God’s love once again. There’s nothing to fear in that.