Beckett: Fear Not! Politics is Not the Answer

If I were to give my best estimation, I would say about 90% of my Facebook newsfeed is filled with political posts and 95% of my Twitter feed is filled with political posts. It seems that ever since the 2016 election, everyone has an “expert” opinion on politics (more so than usual). Those of you who know me well or those of you who are familiar with my writings know I am an unflinching conservative. Maybe some of you are liberal and can’t stand conservatives, and vice versa. I have lost many subscribers for my conservative views, and I’m okay with that.

Whilst I am a proud conservative, I am not going to be arguing for conservatisim on a biblical basis, as is the habit of some; that would defeat the purpose of the title. (Truthfully, I don’t think anyone can argue for conservativism or liberalism on a biblical basis. I believe you can argue certain issues on a biblical basis, such as pro-life issues, but I do not believe that either philosophy in and of itself—whether conservative or liberal—can be argued on a biblical basis.) Instead, I am here to tell you: Politics is not the answer.

Have I offended you yet? We have many idols in America. I would say the top two idols in America are politics and sports, and the top two false religions guiding these idols are individualism and anonymity. As Americans, we thrive on individualism and anonymity. We are proud of our individualism and anonymity. And there’s the root of our sin in politics: pride.

I believe that at the core of the current political division and hostility in America is due to opposing views on how to approach human suffering. Whether it’s how to approach poverty, taxation issues, victims of mass shootings and the like, immigrants, foreign refugees, etc., they all share one thing in common: human suffering. Both sides have their different opinions on how to approach these issues. We cannot come to a consensus.

The issue is not whether you are conservative or liberal; the issue is that, for many of us, politics has become an idol. We think one political party has all the answers to human suffering. I’m sorry to break it to you (not really), but the answer to human suffering is not the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. The answer to human suffering is Jesus Christ. Isaiah 35:3-4:

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

I cannot do this passage justice without doing a full exegetical study on Isaiah 35. The reason why I am refraining from such an exegetical study here is because that’s not the purpose of this article.

For the time being, what you need to know for this passage’s context is that Isaiah is proclaiming to Israel the coming restoration of creation and Israel. A couple of his sayings in this chapter have a now/not-yet reality (things that are now a reality and at the same time not yet). For example, Isaiah in verses 5-6 prophesies about the blind seeing and the lame walking. In the now, this happened when Jesus returned and healed the blind and the lame (and one can argue this is still occurring with our technological advancements to help the blind see again/better, the deaf hear again/better, and the lame walk). In the not-yet, this will fully occur when Jesus returns in all His glory.

For my purposes here, however, I only want to focus on verses 3-4 quoted above. The timing of its coming up at this time is appropriate, as it focuses on God’s coming with Advent only a few days away (the time of the church year when we celebrate Jesus’ first coming leading up to Christmas and look forward to the day of His second coming).

Let’s read verses 3-4 again, adding a few emphases. After proclaiming to Israel—in verses 1-2—that the wilderness, the dry land, and the desert (i.e. all creation) will “be glad” and “blossom abundantly” and that all creation will “see the glory of Yahweh,” Isaiah then says to Israel:

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.

With the promise of restoration now foretold, Isaiah commands Israel with two plural imperatives to proclaim this good news to their people. They are to strengthen the week and make firm the feeble—to those who are anxious—with the words, “Be strong; fear not!” and so on. God is coming! This is another now/not-yet. In the now, God has come in Jesus Christ and promises to be present among His people wherever they gather (Matthew 18:20); in the not-yet, God is coming again in Jesus Christ.

In connection with God’s coming, I want to focus on just two other words: “Fear not.” Fear. Fear drives a lot of us, especially in politics. Indeed, fear fuels the rhetoric of politicians. We are supposed to fear immigrants, refugees, liberals, conservatives, President Trump, Hillary Clinton, our current gun laws, more strict gun laws, and the list goes on. Politicians and the media tell us to fear a lot of things, and somehow, we think the answer to our fears lies in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, or whatever political party you favour.

Politics is not the answer. It is not the answer to human suffering, and it is not the answer to fear. Politics has its place—some call it a necessary evil—but it is not the answer to all our problems.

Let’s face it: Things are messed up. We live in an age where someone can walk into a school and massacre children and their teachers, whether they have a political agenda or they’re just plain insane. This is not the only age of violence, however. Violence such as this is not unique to 21st century America. Indeed, it has been worse than it is today. I’m not saying these violent problems don’t matter and don’t need to be addressed; they absolutely do need to be addressed. What I’m saying is that violence on this level is nothing new or unique to our times. Even if we do come up with a solution—whether conservative or liberal—it is only temporary.

Will more severe gun control solve gun violence? Let’s say it does. Only for a while. Maybe it doesn’t work at all. Will putting a gun in every responsibly trained citizen’s hands make us more safe? Let’s say it does. Maybe for a while. Maybe it doesn’t work at all. We can’t tell the future. Whichever side gets their way, the ultimate problem has not gone away: human depravity, that is, our born propensity to sin and to hurt others. Politics is merely a temporary solution to a permanent problem: human brokenness. Using politics to solve issues of human brokenness is like placing a bandaid over a bullet wound.

Thus, today, I proclaim to you Isaiah’s message to Israel: ” ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come to save you!'” God is coming! God is coming with vengeance! God is coming to save you! This is good news for God’s people. That God is coming with vengeance is good news for the Church; it is not good news for the rest of the world. The world is messed up, but God is not content with leaving the world this way. It is God’s will to restore creation and humanity to Himself—to place us on the highway to His holiness (v. 8).

Fear not! Politics is not the answer. Take courage! For Jesus Christ is the answer. Politics is temporary and fleeting; Jesus Christ is forever.

If you were expecting a practical answer on how to approach politics as a Christian, you will leave this article unsatisfied. I don’t have an answer. I can give you one, but that would just be one out of millions of opinions. Perhaps I’ll address that another day. I do not have a practical answer, but I do have a spiritual one: Trust in Christ; do not trust in politics. How far will trusting in politics get you?

If you fear, love, and trust in God, here’s how you should approach politics: In politics, what scares you the most? What issue(s) do you care about the most? What about this issue scares you? Take it to God in prayer, and ask for His will to be done. Don’t pray that you get your way for your political party; His ways are beyond your beloved political party’s agenda. Pray for God’s will, and for your mind to be changed in case your will does not match with His. Trust in Christ, for He is coming with vengeance and to make all things new.

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