Every other Thursday morning, I meet at a local restaurant with a half dozen men for what we call “Men’s Bible Study.” What we actually do is less about Bible study and more about book discussions that rarely stay on topic. We also enjoy current issues debates that generally devolve predictably, yet peacefully, into partisan loyalties. It’s mostly about the fellowship.
Recently, we discussed Anthony Campollo’s book Red Letter Christians. Campollo suggests that Christians ought to be a good bit more concerned about the words of Jesus in the Bible (sometimes printed in red letters) than everything else. Which is not a bad idea.
Campollo has never been afraid of venturing into political topics or hot-button issues, so as we talked around his book, a host of headlines made their way into our conversation – guns and immigration and international relations and Iran and gay marriage. As we talked about all of the daily headlines that bring a double dose of bad news, however, there was a common thought among my table mates.
Fear is at the center of our lives – and living in fear is a terrible way to live.
Listen to the commentaries on American life. Our culture of fear is inescapable. We’re afraid of “illegals.” They’re roofing our houses, trimming our lawns, cleaning our clothes, harvesting our farms, paying taxes and social security… and we’re afraid they’re taking what’s really “ours.” Or they’ll get what they don’t deserve. We’re afraid.
We’re afraid that gay marriage has signaled the spiritual bankruptcy of the nation. As if heterosexual marriage has been a beacon of light. We are told that the family is the cornerstone of any successful society, and gay marriage will destroy the family. If that is true, please tell me how. And it’s not like we have shown much care about the family prior to the SCOTUS decision. Have we? We’re afraid.
A neighbor who worked for a sportsman’s outlet told me that on Thanksgiving day the year Obama was re-elected his department SOLD OUT of guns before noon. The year prior he sold maybe six. “They’re afraid Obama will take their guns.” And we’re afraid of Muslim extremists and “thugs” and… well, it seems we’re afraid of everyone.
Twice recently I’ve seen a patron walk into a local restaurant wearing a pistol. I can assure you I didn’t feel safer knowing the guy at the next booth was “packing heat.” So what was he afraid of?
Can you imagine how it would change the world if you were not afraid? If our leaders were not afraid? If we were not a people who lived in constant fear?
Fear drives international policy-making. Fear drives discussions of budgeting priorities. Fear drives marketing and politics and the priorities of time and money in local households.
What if we weren’t afraid?
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16.33).
Don’t be afraid. Instead, let’s redirect our time and energy to something more positive and more hopeful.
And let’s change the world.