“Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear”
by Rev. G. A. Kratzer
To many students of the Scriptures, this text does not seem perfectly clear; for they are unable to see just how love can be a special antidote for fear. It would seem that faith is the more direct opposite. Then, also, the question arises, How is perfect love to be attained?
A solution to these difficulties appears, if the order of the words in the text is inverted, so that it reads, Love of the perfect casteth out fear. Perfect love must necessarily be love of the perfect; for love of the imperfect could not be perfect love. Accordingly, to attain perfect love, we must learn, and in Christian Science we can learn, what the perfect is, and then we shall learn to love the perfect.
What is the occasion of fear? It arises when we anticipate the prospective or continued loss of something or some one that we love. We think that we are, or are going to be, deprived of health, strength, property (substance), life, or the presence or life of some person whom we love. But, in Christian Science, we learn that the only real health is divine harmony, which is the eternal, indestructible, changeless, omnipresent law of God; and we learn that the only real strength is God’s omnipresent and indestructible power; and that the only real property (substance) is Spirit, infinite Mind and its ideas; that life is God or the expression of God, and is omnipresent and indestructible, and we learn that the only real man is God’s idea, eternal, changeless, perfect, and omnipresent. These real entities are the perfect entities, and no others are perfect or real. If, therefore, we have learned to love these, and have withdrawn our love from their false, material counterfeits, our love has become perfect, and is fixed upon objects or entities which we know we cannot lose or be separated from, since they are omnipresent and eternal. Therefore, when our love has become perfect through love of the perfect, we know that we cannot lose anything that we love, and so we have no occasion for fear. Therefore, “perfect love casteth out fear.” It is also manifest that, “He that feareth is not made perfect in love”; for he has not learned to love the perfect, and the perfect only.
A child and his mother are walking in the field. The child stops to gather some buttercups; the mother strolls on. Suddenly the child looks up and sees his mother quite a distance away. In a paroxysm of fear, he cries: “Mama! Mama! wait for me!” If the mother stops, his fear promptly subsides, and he does not specially mind toddling along over the intervening distance, until he catches up with her. When we are afraid, it is mostly because we think that life, or something or somebody that we love is getting away from us; but when, through Science, we become really convinced that Life and all good things will wait until we catch up — until we attain the realization of them, most of our fear subsides; and we do not so much mind the period of struggle that must be gone through before we gain the permanent possession of the good we seek.
In this connection is seen the great wisdom of St. Paul’s exhortation, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” In proportion as we obey this injunction, we are freed from any occasion for fear, anxiety, foreboding, or doubt, and we enter more and more into love, joy, peace, and the realization of all good.
Discouragement is the more sinister because it is generally looked upon as harmless. In fable it is told that the devil one night held a sale and offered all his tools to any one who would pay his price. These were spread out for sale, some labeled hatred, and envy, and sickness, and sensuality, and despair, and crime — a motley array. Apart from the rest lay a harmless-looking, wedge-shaped implement marked “discouragement.” It was much worn and was priced above the rest, showing that it was held in high esteem by its owner. When asked the reason the devil replied, “I can use this more easily than any of the others, for so few know it belongs to me. With this I can open doors that I can not budge with the others, and once I get inside I can use which ever of them suits me best.” – William R. Rathvon, in Christian Science Journal, May, 1911