Fear, Love, and Politics
By the time this blog is published, the midterm election of 2018 will be over.
For those of us living in the midst of a contentious election for a Senate seat, the daily mailers of egregious “factual” information nailing each candidate have finally ceased. The political ads that have clogged up the airways for months have been put to rest, and the daily Facebook rants about Trump, immigrants, guns, or other fill in the blank personal imperative political issue have taken a bit of a backseat to reposting videos or taking a side between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Team Thanksgiving, btw.)
(We all breathe a collective sigh of relief.)
But before we all go back to normality, can we just take a moment to consider the craziness? Can we analyze the insanity of politics in our country?
Am I the only one who is wondering: what the heck is going on?
As a relatively well informed citizen of this fine Republic, I get so incredibly sick at the vast polarity that divides us as a people. Now, logic dictates that a country built upon only two overarching political ideologies would of course fall into an us versus them mentality. With only two major choices, the embracing of one side only results in believing those across the aisle are wrong.
But how did we go from two sided politics to the depth of angry rhetoric that is defining each election cycle in our country? Everywhere I look, it seems as if people are trading the common decency of treating others like themselves in order to point fingers, vilify, and hurt. The examples are endless, from our national leaders right down to our neighbors across the street.
And at the heart of the division, there are many who claim Christ with the same mouth that shouts epithets towards those they hate.
It doesn’t sit well with me. In fact, it makes me hurt deeply.
Why would Christians, those who love and serve Jesus, be pulled right into the fray with everyone else? Why would their voices rise to the same crescendo as the world, spewing hate and pointing fingers over political ideas?
I don’t have all the answers, but I think it begins with fear.
Fear of being wrong. Fear of losing control. Fear of not being heard. Fear of missing out. Fear of people who are different. Fear of the future. Fear of worst case scenarios. Just a lot of fear.
Fear is a strange thing, because it seems to make people double down on what they believe. I think Christians may even be more susceptible to this because so many of our political leanings are tied to moral conviction from Biblical principles.
So when we feel threatened by another set of beliefs or an election where someone who believes differently from us may win, we get scared, and we lash out. Those internalized insecurities seem to rush to the surface even more readily in times like these, when division defines our country’s political leanings.
However fear isn’t only a motivator in these types of situations. If I am honest, most of my poor choices in stressful situations can find their root in fear, some of the same fears listed earlier.
Eradicating the fear within us, then, must be the way to dismiss the need to point fingers and make enemies of the people with whom we disagree. If we can just deal with our fears, maybe there would be no need to be so loud, at least within the church.
But how do we do that? How do we get rid of the fear?
There’s a timely reminder about fear from John the Apostle in his first letter. He writes…
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
John writes that the antithesis of fear is love, that perfect love drives away fear. It conjures within me a picture of a King in a throne room, who after hearing the pursuits of a terrible criminal, banishes him from their kingdom forever.
In the same way, the true and beautiful love of God expels fear away from our hearts and minds. By default then, the answer to all of this is replacing the fear within us with love.
John has a lot to say about love throughout 1 John 4.
Love is from God, and love is the way we show the world we are born of God and know God. (1 John 4:7)
God is love, so when we are filled with love, we are filled with our Lord and Savior. (1 John 4:8)
The love of God is shown by us living out the example of Jesus, they are one and the same. (1 John 4:9)
Love initiates only with God, it comes from Him alone through the sacrifice of His Son. (1 John 4:10)
Because God loved us enough to save us, the least we can do is love others with that same love. (1 John 4:11)
When we know and believe the love that God has for us, we live in love, and as a result, live in God. Love and God are always connected. (1 John 4:16)
When we love each other, God is within us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)
When we have perfect love within us, we are confident. (1 John 4:17)
When I dive into the Truth about love in 1 John, I see a depth of trust. The more I know God, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more His love grows within me. It replaces my proclivity to fear and lash out from my insecurities.
And, the more His love grows within me, the more I want to love the people around me with His love. It is all connected.
What does that have to do with the Midterm elections?
For those of us who believe in Jesus and have chosen to follow Him, we have to check our need to be outspoken and right about political ideas at the door to love.
Whatever lies the enemy may be whispering in our ear, that the country is about to fall apart or if someone who believes differently from us gets power we will spontaneously combust or whatever, we don’t give in to that fear.
Instead we look to our Father, we tap into the deep reservoir of love that transcends anything, political or otherwise, and we choose to present a better front than what the world at large is offering right now.
We love instead.
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook