C.S. Lewis on Loving Without Fear
C. S. Lewis described the Trinity, as I once noted, as a source of love and personhood. God is love, and love works through us and through the whole community of believers. This love is from all eternity being expressed in what Lewis calls “the whole dance or drama or pattern of this three-Personal life.” Understanding our triune God gives us greater capacity to love others.
Given these foundational ideas, how can you be more loving? What problems might you encounter along the way?
A big obstacle to loving others is the question of whether or not you can afford to give yourself in love, because doing so might mean pain and suffering.
Love Is a Risky Thing
In The Problem of Pain, Lewis talks about God being self-giving, giving himself in the sacrifice of the cross. He writes,
In self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being. For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice, and that not only on Calvary.
To give yourself in a fallen world may mean pain and suffering. Loving anyone is a risky thing. When you make yourself vulnerable, you could get hurt. Love is never seized apart from courage.
Lewis knew about the pain of loving. He lost his mother around the age of nine. He lost Paddy Moore, a close friend he fought with in World War I. Then he lost his father. And, by no means least, he lost his beloved wife Joy to cancer.
Despite these tragic losses, Lewis says this about love in The Four Loves:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be broken. If you want to be sure to keep it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglement, lock it up safe in the casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the perturbation of love is Hell.
You must allow love to cast out fear of being hurt (1 John 4:8).
Allowing Love to Cast Out Fear
Fear creates what is feared. The more we fear doing poorly on a test, the more likely we will freeze and do poorly. The more you fear rejection, the more unnaturally you will act, raising the likelihood of being rejected. But the more you love someone without concern for your own appearance, the more likely you will be accepted.
Fear faces inward. It focuses on what will happen to you if you fail the test. Love faces outward. It focuses on caring for the other person more than you care for yourself. The more you look outward, the less you look inward. The more you love, the less you fear.
Do Not Fear As Others Fear
The more you are loving God at a particular moment, the less you fear people and circumstances. Isaiah 8:11-13 talks about the attitude believers should have to real or imagined conspiracies in the world:
Thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy,’ in regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And he shall be your fear and he shall be your dread.
You are not to fear the way others fear. It is the proper fear and reverence of the Lord that should drive out or at least lessen fears about conspiracy or anything else. The more we love and fear God, the more we can give ourselves in a sacrificial way.
Art Lindsley is vice-president of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. He served as co-editor IFWE’s Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism and For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty.
This article is republished with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Visit https://tifwe.org/subscribe to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.