Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fear or Love?

Stop it with all the fear-mongering already.


Stop it.

Stop posting and reposting that fear-mongering schlock.

I'm about ready to put my Facebook account on hiatus, because of the ridiculous things people continue to post related to this current election. It's making me not like people who I know in real life, and I'm tired of it all.

So many of my Christian friends are posting about the horrible things that will happen if one major party candidate or the other is elected in November.

I get it. I too have preferences. I have my opinions too, and I believe all educated people should.

But the fear-mongering?


Where is your hope? Christians...are you placing your hope in a political party? Shame on you! Jesus is bigger than your political party. Jesus is not a Republican. Jesus is not a Democrat. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords!

Image by Donkey-Hotey [CC BY 2.0]

What are you really afraid of, with all your cries about the falling skies?

Fear of the other? Of people who aren't like you?

Fear that Jesus might have meant it when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself?"

Fear that you might actually have to live out your faith in ways that make you feel uncomfortable?

Fear that you might actually be persecuted for your faith?

Do you not believe that His will is going to be done? And that He will walk with you, no matter what happens to you?

Maybe it is time, my fellow American Christians, to get serious about what our faith is really about--and stop trying to wrap the cross in stars and stripes. I'll call it "Americhristianity," and I think it is an adventure in missing the point of the gospel. This weird fusion of faith and politics so prevalent in Americhristianity results in a whole lot of shouting and finger-pointing and nastiness...and a real lack of love that looks like fear.

What are we so afraid of?

Jesus was clear about the cost of following him. In John 16, as He is encouraging His disciples just before He is arrested, Jesus admonishes His followers:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Why so fearful? Don't you believe that all things are in His hands? Even when you have trouble? Even when things don't go the way you wish they would? Don't you believe that God is for you and not against you?

Maybe this is where you would like to trot out Jeremiah 29:11..."For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Everyone's favorite, right?

But do you recognize the context of that passage? The Lord was sending his people into exile. This is a word of hope for the next generation--God was sending them away for 70 years--they were being punished for their wickedness! Seriously. Read the whole chapter and check it out.

Actually, maybe this is the perfect passage for Americhristians today. Maybe our current major-party candidates are just the ones we deserve. Maybe we should repent and turn our hearts back to God--and seriously seek after Him, not some idolatrous version of faith-patriotism in an American Jesus.

No matter who is elected President, Jesus is still King.

Does this give you peace? Do you believe this truth? Why so afraid?

Yes, we should vote. Yes, we should be involved in politics. Yes, we should have conversations about our convictions. Yes--YES--we should have real dialogue with people, even if--maybe ESPECIALLY if--we disagree with them.

But blasting out one meme after another, stirring things up through social media? Retweeting or reposting one more article that belittles, alienates, mocks, or cuts? Sorry, my friends; that stinks of fearfulness, not confidence in Christ.

We need not be timid in our faith. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds us, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." What if we took that seriously? What if, instead of fear-mongering our way up to the election, we chose to love instead? What if we had the self-discipline to not just repost one more soundbite that affirms what we already think, while alienating others? What if we decided to stand in the power of the Spirit and STOP stirring up more drama and fear?

In 1 John 4, the apostle John admonishes believers, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."

Maybe this is a hard teaching for you. Maybe the idea of loving someone who votes for the opposite party seems impossible. But I wonder if this is just our fear being revealed?

What if we lived out love instead?


  1. Thanks, Dave. and AMEN! We had a powerful sermon yesterday based on Peter's vision in Acts 10 where God tells him not to call anything unclean that God has made clean. I've been thinking about that important truth in light of current issues. Thinking that only one party or one candidate (any candidate?)or one group has a corner on truth is wrong and unbiblical. Thanks for calling us to faithful living rather than allowing Satan to pull us apart.

    1. Grateful for your feedback, my friend! I think that loving each other is hard work; reacting out of fear is easy. Your Acts 10 example is apt here, I think: God is bigger than our human differences, and we are called to be one Body. I hope that we (all Christians) can live in unity and peace, even when we disagree with each other.

  2. I should note: I thought I might have coined a new term here with "Americhristianity"...but it looks like someone else got there first. Thanks to John Pavlovitz for writing this piece (linked below) that gets at many of the same ideas I brought up in my post here--and more eloquently than I did. Truly, I wrote the above post before finding this one! But it's fascinating to me how similar our line of thinking went...

  3. The main problem with the fear-mongering, as I see it, is that it doesn't do a good job at explaining what is wrong and why we think it is wrong. I took a conflict resolution seminar back when I was still a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the main point was when someone did something that made us feel bad, you have to talk to the person that did it and tell them why what they did hurt you... and say it in a calm way. It's Conflict Resolution 101, but fear-mongering does basically the opposite of that.

    Social media platforms seem to favor posts that are controversial, as posts with many comments appear on my Facebook feed more than posts with many likes. This was found to actually be true for YouTube comments, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if that is a phenomenon with Facebook. The difference between this election and past elections, I would say, is mostly that we are exposed to more social media and the sorting algorithms that media sites use have gotten more sophisticated. They're not to blame for all the fear-mongering, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are at least partially at fault. Fear-mongering comments and titles get more attention than dry, calculated ones.

    It's a curious effect when you have friends that realize this is happening, some of them will make many needless comments on posts that they like.

  4. Amen--I see this with my high schoolers also. Some of the things they say are coming directly from tv sound bites. I hate it. My new phrase has become "Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate"