Opened my email to find a forwarded message from a friend about the National Day of Prayer being canceled. I read further to find that the originator was exhorting Christians to be enraged concerning the cancellation and the favor shown to Muslims over Christians. It went on to read that the Christian should be fearful for the direction this country is going.
"The direction this country is headed
should strike fear in the heart of every Christian,
especially knowing that the
Muslim religion believes that if Christians cannot be
converted, they should be annihilated."
I thought this statement to be especially unChristian. It assumes that Christians fear for their lives because of Islam. But Islam is not something to fear. Like Elijah laughing at the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the Christian knows of its powerlessness. The mujaheddin cannot do anything to the Christian that is a cause for fear. If a Christian dies by the scimitar, he gains Christ. If the Christian lives under Sharia, he suffers like Christ. If everything tangible is stripped from the Christian, he still loses nothing, because it was all considered nothing in the first place. The Christian is a Stoic in this sense; he is unshakable because the world cannot take from him what has been promised. Martin Luther, in his 95 Theses, writes,
Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.
And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.
For the Christian, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) And to live like Christ often entails suffering, like a lifelong crucifixion until they are dead, buried and resurrected; like the prophets and saints of antiquity who "were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them." (Hebrews 11:34-38) These were all commended for their faith.
I am not saying that Christians should invite this kind of torture from those who hate them, but it should not be a thing to be feared. And if it is to be resisted, it is to be resisted only in as far as the Christian has an absolute love for his God, and therefore his neighbor and does not want his countrymen to be subject to such hostilities. The impetus for resistance should be out of love not fear.
It seems to me, that the only thing Christians have to fear is God. Because "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10) And it is wisdom that will help to steer the country in the right direction. However, ours is a world, as Malcolm Muggeridge states, "of empires rising and falling, revolutions and counter revolutions, wealth accumulating and wealth dispersing." Such is the nature of the Kingdom of Man. It adheres to a law of undulation. In fact, one could say that the most basic thing about the Kingdom of Man, or the most foundational thing is that it oscillates. And anyone who builds their house on a shaky foundation should have reason to fear, because the house will crack and crumble. But the Christian's Kingdom is fixed. It does not waiver. It is constant and it is eternal. It is perfect for building a house because the foundation is faithful.
And so the Christian puts his trust in this foundation, eliminating the fear, but still builds on the undulating one. His care for earthly kingdoms is still one of divine calling, like Adam tending the garden, or Kings appointed to reign over cities. It is demonstrated over and over in Scriptures that Christians do care for the ephemeral, but they understand, too, that it is ephemeral. Thus, a Christian's reaction to a withering flower is not one of shock or fear. The Christian loves his neighbor, who may put his trust in the flower, as beautiful as it may be, but unlike his neighbor the Christian does not dread when the flower finally turns ugly and bows to the passage of time. He knows that it wilts and that it is not a thing to be trusted.
It is good to call Christians to civic duty and to be active in just cause. Christians are called to do so. But fear of death should not be the animus, instead it should be love for God, who commands Christians to love their neighbor. A soldier does not fight a war because he fears for his life; he fights because he loves his brother.