Fear is a powerful motivator and detractor. Fear can distort our perception of reality and cause us to see situations, circumstances, people in a completely different light. Fear will cause us to project an undesirable outcome upon those situations and imagine endless detrimental possibilities.
So often in Scripture, we are told not to fear. Jesus tells His disciples on many occasions not to fear since He is there. After His earthly departure, He would send a comforter to allay fears. Paul tells Timothy, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but love, power and a sound mind. John writes in his epistle, that there is no fear in love, for perfect love (meaning Christ) casts out fear because fear involves torment. Yet, the believer can allow fear to seep in and distract from the peace that Christ brings and even justify fear in the face of alarming circumstances that stand counter-opposed to the Christian values we are striving to uphold.
It seems to me, and I could be wrong, there seems to be a vapor of fear circulating among evangelical circles these days. I believe that several factors are motivating this fear but the chief instigator seems to be the current political administration. Let’s face it, there are policies and practices being proposed that undercut and undermine a politically conservative platform, the same platform that most evangelicals share due to closest alignment of values based on a Biblical worldview.
Whether it be universal health care, internet policies, taxation of business or a presidential speech made to school children, the actions of the current administration are alarming many. Not to mention, the administration’s pro-abortion stance. So much so, I believe that there is a perception of detriment that I wonder is not being amplified because of fear. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is no cause for concern, especially if you are a politically conservative evangelical. But I do get the sense that we are allowing that fear to draw unmitigated and slightly irrational conclusions about things that on face value, do not warrant the kind of response that some actions have drawn, such as delivering a motivational speech to school age children. Al Mohler has written a very insightful piece concerning this (here).
I agree with Dr. Mohler concerning what the Christian response should be according to Scripture. For I find the average evangelical response interesting in contrast to Biblical prescription and practices in the early church. Paul encourages a response to government that I think is most intriguing considering the atheist, plurastic and hedonistic Roman government ruled during that time. If we think our’s is immoral, it is saintly in comparison. He writes in Romans 13:1-3,to submit to governing authorities for by doing so you are subjecting to God. Moreover, he indicates that the authorities are not a cause for fear. Even then, with what Christians faced the rule was to pray for government and submit to it. Why? Because God is the ultimate authority and it is God who is ultimately in control.
I further get the sense that fear is causing us to want a government response to our concerns because American Christians Evangelicals have developed an expectation that government should align with a Biblical worldview and we should have no participation with one that doesn’t. I suspect this is why there has been so much evangelical entwinement with the political process in order to control outcomes. Perhaps it was the foundation of religious freedom that the country was founded on or maybe the fundamentalist movement in the early 20th century that sought to impose a Christian standard on society. I think fear played a significant factor in these efforts since a “godless” society would inevitably be much more difficult to live in than one displaying the same moralistic values that should so distinguish the proper Christian.
I do find the contrast of political affiliation during the early church in contrast to today interesting. There were no protests from Christians for the government to align with their values. Even Paul, a Roman citizen, did not seek to gain political clout for the sake of Christianity. In fact, it were the Jewish rulers who sought political good will in order to enhance their agenda.
Fear of any type of government misalignment with Christian values should not be a cause for concern for the believer. It is not that we are not concerned about the current political direction of this country but a non-conformity to this world (Romans 12:2) means we don’t put our trust in the system. A believer’s trust is in God because He is the one ultimately in control. A believer can submit to government because our trust is not in government but in God. We don’t have to overreact to every move the current administration makes. We can allow our children to be encouraged to take responsibility for their education by a government official opposed to a Biblical worldview because hopefully at home, we are instructing our children what one is. I also think we can dispense from comparing our commander in chief to Hitler or Stalin because that does much to instigate fear that stands in opposition to position we should be taking according to Scripture.
If we belong to Christ, we are His and that should comfort us in spite of present and perceptions of pending circumstances.