Hold onto your seats, friends. I’m going to talk politics justforaquicksecond. My pastor mentioned these two points last Sunday, and they really provoked a response of conviction in my heart: The travel ban was enacted because President Trump (and some Americans) is afraid of there being terrorists among the (primarily) Muslim refugees. Other Americans are opposing President Trump’s ban because they are afraid that he is ruining America by not embracing immigrants, when this country was founded by immigrants. My pastor wanted to draw our attention to the idea that our whole political landscape is one based upon fear. And I think he’s right. All the groupthink, media hyperbole, and general nastiness on social media (with regards to politics specifically) seems to me to be based on fear. Fear that our worst dreams would come true. Fear of failure. Fear of loss. Fear of losing control. Fear of the unknown. Fear of hatred.
There is nothing that surprises, nor nothing over which God doesn’t have ultimate control. There are times when that thought is uplifting and encouraging. And there are other times, when…well, it’s not so encouraging. At least to me. All through history, from Adam to um…Gretchen, we see people ignoring, defying, or even just sort of giving a half effort at God’s commands to love Him first and foremost and love our neighbors as ourselves. Are we really surprised that our world is a mess? We can’t be. God gives free will. And He will use good ‘kings’ as well as bad to further his purposes. He who hung the stars and created the ocean tides doesn’t need us to do a thing. In fact, sometimes we’ve done too much!
Furthermore, while this commandment doesn’t get as much press as the ‘two most important commandments’, the Bible includes over 360 exhortations or commands to “do not fear”. In the Gospels, Jesus often rebukes the disciples when they are afraid—stating that their fear is actually a lack of faith.
In fact, the only thing we are to fear is God.
And even that word, fear, takes on the connotation of immense reverence, rather than the act of being afraid. Yes, God wants us to deeply respect Him and believe in his almighty power; but he also wants a relationship with us, and He knows that having us walk around being scared of Him would be counterintuitive to that end. Not only that, but ruling by fear requires no faith; and God wants us to faithfully believe in Him.
So really, we have nothing to worry about that God hasn’t covered; and we can do our part by obeying–doing the work of loving Him and our neighbors well without succumbing to fear. As we are all uniquely gifted and qualified to love in a multitude of ways, this work will be different to each one of us—but we need each one of us to do the work! Maybe this means you march or don’t march. Maybe it means you fight injustice by writing to your local representatives and/or giving to those in need. Maybe it means that you teach your children how amazing God made them to be, and encourage their gifts and talents to be shared with others. Perhaps making meals for friends when they are ill or laid up, or making blessing bags for the poor is in your wheelhouse. Friends, working out our salvation every day with reverence, so that Jesus is glorified, and our corner of the world is a little kinder and more loving is what we’re commanded to do. It’s serious work, and it’s enough for us to do, isn’t it? Life is hard enough without living in a constant state of angst and being mean to our friends over social media. Strong feelings are awesome, but so are kindness and self control. And if you don’t think I’m writing this myself, you’d be mistaken. As I look in the mirror, I know I need to show the outward appearance of my inwardly changed, purchased-with-flesh-and-blood-when-I-deserved-wrath heart.
So…convicted heart in hand, and with the freedom of repentance and forgiveness, I am going to change my behavior to allow God (I know…allow God…haha) to do the heavy lifting of running the world, and stay out of His lane, while I do my part to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly beside Him as His earthly ambassador until He takes me home.
To God alone be the glory. Forever and ever, amen.