Jesus and the Politics of Fear

A number of years ago, I made a decision regarding politics: that I would no longer participate in the American political process.

My reason for this choice was that I no longer saw redemptive value in the political system of my country. Let me say right up front that there are plenty of Christians who do not agree with me on my stance. I have many friends who are both Republican and Democrat who are also followers of Jesus, and I'm grateful to have a mix of friends.

I've read what N.T. Wright has to say about the importance of bringing a voice to democracy. I'm well aware of what people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson believe we should do within the American political system.

I respectfully disagree with them.

Based on the current American presidential race, I feel my choice was a precinct one. While I am not surprised at the fact that the train is going off the rails, I am somewhat surprised to see it happening so quickly. As this is not a post about any particular man or woman, I digress.

The reason I disengaged with the American political system is, as I already stated, due to the fact I see no redemptive value within our current political system.

Instead, I see a political system (with the accompanying 24 hour news networks) which is using fear as a primary motivator to influence people.

Fear of the other (evil and incompetent) candidate.

Fear of "them" (immigrants, terrorists, Muslims, etc)

Fear of violence

Fear of government interference in private lives

Fear of lack (the other candidate will make you poor/ruin the economy)

Fear of the unknown (who do you want on the phone at 3am, etc)

As a follower of Jesus, I am never supposed to let fear determine my actions.


As a follower of Jesus, I am never supposed to let fear determine my actions.


For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

...perfect love expels all fear. (1 John 4:18)

Anytime someone tries to use fear to coerce me, they immediately lose any influence with me. The church, to my great sadness, has often tried this tactic.

Fear of hell to control people.

Fear of an angry God to get more in offerings.

Fear of criticism in an effort to impose moral guidelines on others.

Similar to my decision to leave the American political system behind, there was a time when I said, "to hell with church."

I returned to the church because I gained the understanding that God has chosen to tell a redemptive story through this Body of Christ. I am not convinced that there is a redemptive story coming from our political system. If I see one, I will certainly re-engage. Until then, I believe the best way I can impact our world is by inviting the Holy Spirit into my life to transform me.

Some days, I really don't do a very good job of this, but I refuse to write myself off. I know that God's redemptive story runs through me.

I'm also not attacking any individuals involved in the political process. Sure, I disagree with some (many) things that either candidate says, but each person is someone who Jesus loves and offers transformation to just as much as he offers it to me.

It is the system that I refuse to provide strength to by my simple participation. It's the same reason 24 hour news networks are banned in my household. I will not contribute to a system that exists on fear, no matter where it exists.

If you haven't read the Gospels, you may be surprised to learn that Jesus does not spend a great deal of time speaking about judgement or hell. He certainly doesn't use those topics to scare people into his ministry and control them.

"You better do what I'm telling you or you're gonna burn." ~ Not Jesus

Jesus uses forgiveness and hope and love and caring to draw outsiders to himself. Rather than badgering people with a message that announced, "You better stop sinning or God's gonna get you", Jesus seemed to announce, "Stop sinning, because God has something way better in mind for you!"

It was those who killed Jesus that used fear. The religious and political elite of Israel told the crowds that Jesus was going to get them all killed by stirring up the Romans.

Can you imagine what a 24 hour news network would have said about Jesus?

Reckless Rebel

Prophet of Doom

Homeless Man Claims to Be Son of God

Anyone who uses fear to manipulate and cajole and criticize and ostracize is certainly not acting as part of God's plan to make all things new again. Such behavior will, in fact, become extinct in the full realization of God's kingdom.


Anyone who uses fear to manipulate and cajole and criticize and ostracize is certainly not acting as part of God's plan to make all things new again. Such behavior will, in fact, become extinct in the full realization of God's kingdom.


Please, if you are a follower of Jesus, be careful before giving credibility and influence to a system which operates with such vitriol and combativeness and fear mongering.

If you feel it is your civic, or even Christian duty to participate, I urge you to avoid contributing more negativity to the echo chamber. Our devotion to Jesus gives us a different compass heading than we would get from simple patriotism or humanism.

We are called to be influencers upon the culture around us in positive, healthy, creative ways. We're also called to understand that human institutions will never be able to accomplish the work which was accomplished through the Messiah and which is being transmitted through those who believe in that Messiah.

In a world that is full of fear, let us seek to be the voices and embodiment of love which drives out fear. Let us, like Jesus, point towards something better which God offers to us all.