Hope and Fear

Had a strange incident occur today.  I was having coffee and catching up with another member of our church staff at Starbucks.  We were in the middle of sharing prayer requests and about to pray – we were the only people in Starbucks at the time – when a man walks around the corner and asks, “What’s going on guys?” 

Neither of us knew said man.

He then says, “Do you guys have jobs?”

Strange question.

I respond in typical Chad McDaniel smart-aleck fasion, “Nope, just hanging out!”

To which he says, “You and 47% of Americans who are on welfare.  Can you believe that?  47% are on welfare and living off the rest of us.  Seriously though, where do you guys work?”

We admitted that we’re pastors, which really got him going.  Now, he didn’t get fired up about Christianity or the problem with the Church today.  Nope.  Instead, he told us that churches, pastors in particular, really need to take a stand these days.  We need to get more political and tell everyone that if we don’t take action soon, we’re going to lose our freedoms and we’re going to be persecuted by our government.  This was important to him.  So important that he interrupted two dudes drinking Starbucks about to pray.

Now, I’m NOT writing about politics.  This is not my time to critique what he said.  What I realized as he went on and on is that he is afraid.  His politics are based on FEAR.  His life is based on fear.  Sure, he was passionate - he was trembling as he spoke.  He is afraid, and this bothered, frustrated, and in the end, angered me a lot.

Why?  Because this man also admitted he was a Christ-follower and attends a well-known church in our community.  That being said, I have to ask, “What is he so afraid of?”  What are he, and others like him on either side of the political aisle who claim Christ, afraid of?  Honestly.

Is our faith so shaky, so flimsy, so pathetic that a government’s policies would instill fear in us?  I’m not being naïve.  I’m being serious. Governments have tried to stifle Christ in the past and governments will do the same in the future, and yet the Church lives on.  The Church, Jesus Christ, the Triune God, is bigger than any government in any time and in any place.  Do we believe it?

I asked myself, "Where is this guy’s hope?"  Is his hope in Christ – the one who has “overcome the world”?  Didn’t seem like it.  Jesus talks about love casting out fear.  Jesus talks about overcoming the world. 

Will we believe Jesus?  Seriously.  Can we believe Jesus’ words and reject fear mongering?

As for me, call it naïve, call it what you will, but I really don’t care about the 2012 election.  I’m tired of the fear mongering.  I’m tired of people telling me we need more guns, we need less guns, or we need different guns so that our government won’t rise up against us.  I’m tired of the nonsense.  I choose to believe Jesus.  I choose to trust him.  I choose to believe that Jesus truly has overcome the world, defeated death in rising from the dead, and can deliver us from all kinds of evil – even evil that may or may not come from politicians and broken policies.  I choose to believe that THIS changes everything.  It changes the way we live; the way we interact with people; the way we talk about policies and politics.  Jesus' resurrection from the dead changes everything.  It FREES us from FEAR.  It GIVES us HOPE.  Will we believe it?  Will we live it?  Will we be so passionate about HOPE that we will stop two dudes drinking coffee and tell them about something that really matters; that is, will we tell someone about Jesus?

I leave you with the words of a classic hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.


noah and mackenzie said...

that is awesome! what a funny conversation. and why have you not written at all this summer. get after it amigo!

noah and mackenzie said...

what a funny conversation. i though you handled it great. politics is a tricky thing, especially in our profession. good luck this political season.

(and you need to write way more than you have been)



Kirsten said...

this is a good post, chad!

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and read this entry today. I appreciate your point of view.

For background, I am a former evangelical who converted to the Eastern Orthodox church in 2007 (along with my husband and daughter).

Prior to our conversion, my husband and I were heavily involved in one of the biggest evangelical churches in the Skagit Valley for nearly 20 years.

My husband played on the worship team, I helped lead the drama team, and I also worked for a few years at our church.

One of my biggest surprises upon inquiring into Orthodoxy was how it wasn't a solid political block of people. I found people on all parts of the political spectrum. Believe me, this caused plenty of cognitive dissonance!

It's funny you ended your blog entry with the words from that hymn. Back when President Clinton was first elected, I was heavily involved in politics. I was on my way to becoming like that man you met at Starbucks.

The night Clinton won his first presidential election, I was at the local Republican headquarters watching the election results on TV. When it became apparent that Bill Clinton had won the election, everyone there was understandably downcast and depressed.

I remember walking back to my car that night, it was raining, and I felt despair, thinking, "Our country is doomed with this guy as our president," etc.

I'll never forget what happened next. Suddenly, "Someone" asked me a question, "Where is your hope?" I knew it was the Holy Spirit.

I answered in my head, "Well, it's in you, Lord." Immediately, the words to the hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness . . ." came to me and comforted me.

I can only count a few occasions when I felt God talking to me so directly. That was one of the times.

Funny you would mention those same words in your blog entry in such a similar context!