Faith or Fear?

Faith or Fear? What is the foundation of your life? Do you live by faith or by fear? Throughout scripture God tells us again and again “Do not be afraid”. Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t ever be afraid, nor does it mean that fear is always a bad thing. As small children, fear can keep us safe: the fear of being hit by a car teaches us about safety in crossing the street. But fear is evil when it causes us to act in ways that are inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Unfortunately, much of this year’s election is based upon fear—terrorists, shootings, climate change, loss of jobs and homes. It seems much of the political talk is not so much on bringing us together as a nation as it is about protecting us from all those things that we are told to fear. So where does faith fit into this mix? Where is God in all of this?

Admittedly the last place I expected to hear a thoughtful discussion of this issue was from Rev. Rob Schenck, the conservative evangelical pro-life pastor who is chair of the Evangelical Church Alliance and president of Faith in Action (the group that put the giant granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments on the lawn across from the U.S. Supreme Court). Yet his cover story in the May issue of Sojourners presented a different perspective from many of the Capitol Hill tea-partiers he ministers to.

In the article Rev. Schenck considers the role guns should (and should not) play in the lives of the people of God. And central to all of this is the issue of fear. It is fear that leads us down a road to dehumanizing others to labeling them as “threats” that make it easier for us to take a life. But as Christians we are “in the business of preserving human dignity and human life”. Carrying a “piece” runs counter to the “peace” of Christ we are called to carry in our hearts, minds, and lives.  Repeatedly in Scripture Jesus admonished against using violence, advising followers to “turn the other cheek”, when asked by a soldier to carry a load one mile they should “go a second mile”, to care for and welcome the stranger, to “love your enemies”. How then can we, as Christians, possibly see guns as a solution to the problem? How can you end violence with more violence? Even as children on the playground we learned that hate only breeds more hate!

To place our trust in guns is to betray God and, Schenck argues, to commit the sin of idolatry by trading our trust in the divine Peace of God for the trust in a “piece” of steel. In his Advent sermon at the Washington National Cathedral Schenck asked this question, ” Who will ultimately save us, Jesus or something else? Christ or a Glock? Will our salvation be of our own making or will it be of ‘The Lord our Righteousness’”?

We must not replace the Second Commandment with the Second Amendment! True peace will come only through the grace of God, through love of neighbor and care of the stranger. As long as we along fear to override our faith and value “pieces of steel” over the “Peace of Christ” we will continue to live with broken hearts and broken relationships. But fear not! We can change, we can decide to place our trust in God, to live by faith, to work for peace and understanding, to look upon our neighbors and strangers with hope not hate, with love not loathing. May the grace of God bring us Peace!

Pastor Tara