Crises do strange things to us. But the teachings of Jesus cannot be set aside just because we feel threatened.
If the faith we claim is not for the most challenging times, it is for no time at all.
It is understandable and acceptable that political thoughts vary among Christian believers. None of us has all the right answers to the complex social problems we face in a fast-changing and often troubled world.
It is our natural response to be deeply concerned, even fearful and angry, when violence and disrespect for human life seem to abound. The constant news of destructive behavior digs into our hearts and souls.
We can feel helpless and at times hopeless.
However, we must always avoid letting fear become the driving force in our lives. It casts out love in the same way Jesus said that love casts out fear.
Wisdom and reasonable precautions have their rightful place. But a crisis should bring out our best attributes (modeled after the life and teachings of Jesus), not our worst.
If the gospel teaches us anything, it is that there is no risk-free way to follow Jesus. A life of self-interest and self-preservation simply does not resemble Jesus’ clear and bold calls to deny self, pick up a cross and follow.
In fact, our faith is best tested in times of trials. Overreaction by many — who claim the Christian faith — to the critical resettlement of beleaguered refugees is one clear, recent example.
What it revealed about American evangelicalism is one of failure. But it’s a good lesson nonetheless.
Perhaps we can reset our spiritual default from one of fear and self-focus to one of compassion, hope and even a bit of risk. Those are the ways Jesus showed and taught us to live through life’s up-and-down journey.
We must live out what we claim. And there is simply no way to read the Gospels, say “yes” to the compelling words of Jesus, and then embark on a way of living that is easy, safe and sure. It is not the route he took or offered to his followers.
Following Jesus is not fatalistic, but faithfulness to living beyond one’s own comfortable ways — in good times and in challenging times. Such commitments come with risk, yet are full of love, grace and mercy — that which our world and our souls so desperately need. BT
By John D. Pierce