The Exorcism I Need

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This 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. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.” – 1 John 4:17-18

In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of Christ’s birth inspires wonder, worship, and fear. Immediately following the birth narrative comes the story King Herod (Matthew 2:1-18). Herod held onto his crown through intimidation and violence. Into his presence come three Magi from the east, looking for the newborn king. This sends Herod into a panic. Who was this usurper?! Herod devises a plan hoping to use the Magi. He tells them to report to him the whereabouts of the baby. He neglects to tell them that his plan is to end this tiny threat to his lifestyle. However, God intervenes and his plan fails.

Herod refuses to give up. His fear drives him mad. In an attempt to rid himself of the perceived competition, Herod enacts one of the most shocking and brutal events in all of scripture, the slaughter of the innocents. The sad reality is that Christ did not want Herod’s throne. Christ wants love to reign.

In the scripture Herod is an easy villain to boo and hiss. The scripture and history paint a pretty damning picture of Herod. Most of the atrocities he is involved with find their root in fear. It can be difficult to identify with the character of Herod or even to see what lesson we might learn from him. However, all of us know fear. In 1 John this universal experience is addressed and met head on.

“Love casts out fear”

The root word for “cast out” is the same word used when scripture talks about exorcisms. The fear that John speaks of here is not the evolutionary kind that cautions us from high places or venomous creatures. Love casts out the fear we have of one another. It casts out the fear of losing power, prestige, or possessions. It is the fear of one another that truly endangers our soul.

Christ came to show us that we need not fear one another and we need not fear God; for God is perfect love.