A Biblical view of the politics of fear

We’re all afraid of something.

For Clifford Franklin, Orlando Jones’ character in The Replacements, it was spiders. Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) took it deeper: quicksand.replacements

“You’re playing and you think everything is going fine,” he said. “Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move… you can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand.”

That’s the type of fear I’m talking about. And that’s the type of fear both political parties seem intent on using as their No. 1 campaign strategy in the presidential campaigns. “You should be afraid (of pretty much everything), but our party offers the only real hope. Don’t focus on what we’ve done for you (or to you); focus on what we say we’ll do for you.”

So what do we do in the midst of all these fears?

If you do a word search of your Bible, you’ll find that God uses the word fear more than 300 times (NIV). Over and over, God tells us about a healthy fear and a harmful fear.

Healthy Fear: Fear God.

Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:5)

Healthy fear saved Isaac from the knife of his father. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)

Healthy fear saved Moses. “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” (Exodus 1:17)

Healthy fear was a qualification for leadership: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” (Exodus 18:21)

When people have feared God, they have thrived and grown in their faithfulness and obedience. When they have not feared God, they have struggled, stumbled and disobeyed.

“Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.” (Ecclesiastes 8:13)

Harmful Fear: Fear of the world.

In Isaiah, God tells us not to have “fearful hearts” (Isaiah 35:4) and not to fear “conspiracy” (Isaiah 8:12), the “reproach of mere mortals” (Isaiah 51:7), or disgrace and humiliation (Isaiah 54:4).

Peter tells us that even if we suffer for what is right, we are blessed. Then he quotes Isaiah 8:12 – “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.”

The reason we don’t need to fear the things of the world is because we belong to God. If we fear Him and put our trust in Him, then whom shall we fear?

“But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1)

John lays it out clearly in 1 John 4. God is love (1 John 4:8 and 4:16) and embracing the love of God is the only way to fully abolish our harmful fears. “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.” (1 John 4:18)

So what does this tell us about the elections?

Fear God. Trust God. Do not fear this world.

(Click here  to watch the “fears” scene from The Replacements.)


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