I love it when I am pleasantly surprised by a movie. I am often surprised, but the key word here is pleasantly.

I recently watched M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village”, and was very pleasantly surprised! This is pretty good for me, since I have BMS (bad movie selection) Syndrome. During a momentary reprieve of my ailment, after 40 minutes of not being able to find anything, I selected “The Village” and confidently started to watch.

Just at that time, Jan was beginning her pre-sleep nodding. This is a good sign for two reasons. Jan does not like scary movies, and if it was really bad I could tell her it was not a good choice and avoid the shame of her telling that to me!. A very small victory, but with BMS you take what you can get.

If you haven’t seen “The Village” yet, I strongly recommend it. It is not just about getting the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, though that happens. The real story, however, is about the battle between fear and its only predator – love.

The battle between fear and love is the compelling theme for most of the great stories in human history. From “Star Wars” to “Gandhi,” from “Sabrina” to “Braveheart,” we see this titanic clash played out. Sometimes it is a story about an individual. Other times it has international – and even intergalactic implications!

When it comes to marriage, fear often drives us away from intimacy, but love draws us back in. Fear causes us to doubt that what we have to offer others is valuable. Love boldly affirms our value in actions that proclaim “I give myself to you, and it is a good gift.” Compare Genesis 3:10 – “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” – with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Adam was afraid, so he hid; God was in love, so he gave. Adam was self-focused and doubted his value; God was other-focused and embraced his value. Adam accused Eve, and even God, and affirmed his own failure. God sacrificed even his own son to ensure his success.

Two of my favorite glimpses into this battle are found in the New Testament. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” The wording of this indicates an either/or scenario. Power, love, and self control are the qualities that God offers. Fear is the counterfeit offered by the world. God gives us the power to impact our world; love motivates us to use that power for good; and through self control we make a good choice. Fear tells us to stop offering, to withdraw, and call it a day. Love never fails.

The second verse is 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” This is more aggressive. Perfect love, often imagined as something soft and gentle, engages in conflict as a conquering warrior. There is no negotiation. There are no alternatives. The outcome is never in doubt. No discussion. Perfect love wins.

Isn’t it interesting how we so often choose to live in fear, when after reading these verses we see that love is the better way? AND it’s available to us through God himself!

So how can we embrace the power of love over fear to live differently? Consider this: Fear is a strong motivator, but usually a pretty lousy guide. If fear has led you to withdraw, let love lead you to engage. If fear has led you to yell, let love lead you to whisper. If fear has led you to opt out, let love lead you to opt in. If fear has led you to clench your fists, let love lead you to open your arms.

Pray that the choice between love and fear is evident to you through this question: “Am I acting out of love or fear?” You can choose to take different steps than you have ever taken before. Remember, no discussion. Perfect love wins.

Watch “The Village” to see the battle between love and fear portrayed in an excellent film by M. Night Shyamalan. By the way, Jan loved it, too!