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You maybe have heard this: “….as He is so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17b).

Some have been told this means we are like Christ, that we are in fact Christ (or that He is us) the word made flesh.

Well, don’t believe everything you hear. One snippet out of context is not doctrine. They even leave out the word “because” and just quote the last bit.

Please read the whole thing. Read it in other versions. Get what it says.

1 John chapter 4 (The Message)

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear 

1My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.

2Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ–the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person–comes from God and belongs to God. 3And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!

4My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 5These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. 6But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.

God Is Love 

7My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love–so you can’t know him if you don’t love.9This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

11My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us–perfect love!

13This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. 14Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world.

15Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. 16We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.

To Love, to Be Loved 

17This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day–our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.

18There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgment–is one not yet fully formed in love.

19We, though, are going to love–love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? 21 The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

How can we reconcile fearing God and the scriptural statement that perfect love casts out fear?

We have movement within the body of Christ that is trying to take us back to fearing God. Can we fear God (the Greek, phobos, is the root word for our phobia) and still love Him as Father? What’s up with this, anyhow?

If I fear my father, I don’t tend to spend a lot of time with him, climb up into his lap, kiss him… 

….and if I did, it would be seen as neurotic, unhealthy, and dysfunctional. I would be responding to mix signals from my father. God does not send mixed signals, or create confusion.

Let’s go on, and see what is really being said.

Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. The scripture also tells us that the fool says in his heart there is no God.

What is a fool, but one who has no knowledge or wisdom?

Proverbs 9:10 goes on to say that knowledge of the holy ones is understanding. I think we should not be slicing and dicing so much, but look at the whole.

Paul tells us that for one to come to God, he must believe that He exists and is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

And again, we have James saying this: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Wisdom is from God, true wisdom. We only need ask. Him. Not another. And He does not chide us for asking. Same thing, really.

But the one who believes God exists has the beginning of wisdom. Not the end of it, but the right start..

I know there are many who say fear means we have to quake and be frightened of God. They are welcome to that opinion. By looking at the words only, they are justified in their belief. But one cannot look at Jesus, who was the exact image of the Father, and conclude that we are to relate to God in fear.

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Jesus never quenched a smoking wick or broke a bruised reed. He never condemned. He loved with a consuming passion.

His harshest words were reserved for the hypocrites, the religious leaders (who claimed to fear God).

Today, the voices telling us, passionately and sincerely, to fear God, are the very ones who will put us back under the yoke of bondage to rules and the law.

 So, you get to choose.

Leave grace, follow the “musts” and “have-tos” or be free from that yoke. Fear God, then try to love Him and be close to Him, and relate to Him.

Or, love Him in spirit and in truth. Perfect love casts out fear.

You can’t have it both ways! You can try, but it will kill your knowing Him.

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