Faith, Hope, and Love: Why Christians Must Keep Up the Fight
These are the in-between days, between the decisions voters have made, and the decision our votes will make. You can bet it’s not going to end soon; not until it goes to court. These are anxious days, when pre-election uncertainties that should have been settled are multiplying even more.
There’s plenty to worry about. Democracy hangs in the balance. All sides agree on that. On Thursday The New York Times said it was “The President Versus Democracy.” That’s one view, for what it’s worth. I see a totally different side: massive indicators of voter fraud, corruption on a scale that could literally put an end to democracy. One way or another, though, democracy is very much at risk. It doesn’t matter who wins in the end; this has still been disturbing. It’s been disturbing for years now.
So here we stand, between the voting and the decision. How do we navigate this? Should we fight? Why? How? I’m thinking less about strategy today, and more about our personal stance. And I’m writing specifically for followers of Christ.
My first word of advice is that we normalize this in our minds: We’re always in between. My second word is that we can relax in the hope we have in Christ. My third word is that we dare not let that lull us to sleep. Faith gives us hope, but love demands that we stay strong in the battle.
In Between? We’re Always In Between
Faith gives us hope, but love demands that we stay strong in the battle.
My first advice is that we normalize this in our minds. As bad as this is on the one hand (and it really is), it’s not that abnormal on the other. We’re always in between.
We live in a world of hate, yet we live in love. We live among lies, yet we know the One who is truth. We walk in darkness, yet we carry the light. We ourselves are redeemed, we are God’s own possession in Christ, yet still we fall short of following Him as we should. We live between hell and heaven.
On his deathbed, John Newton, composer of “Amazing Grace,” said, “I am still in the land of the dying: I shall be in the land of the living soon.” Yes, the world is in trouble, yet in a very real sense we are okay.
The Apostle Paul had been shipwrecked three times, beaten repeatedly, and imprisoned often (2 Cor. 11: 23-27). Still he knew that our “slight momentary affliction” is preparing for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). I don’t know how will the vote turn out in the end, but I do know how you and I as followers of Christ will come out in the end: with an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
We’re Okay, So We Must Fight
We’ve got faith, and we’ve got an incredible hope ahead of us. So we’re okay. Really. We’re fine. You can relax. Take a deep breath. Smile. Got that? Good. Now, go jump into the battle and fight with everything you’ve got.
Even if we’re okay, not everyone is, and not every thing is. This is the paradox of faith and love, here in this in-between world. Faith assures us God is good, God is in control, and we’re in good hands. Love, however, demands that we fight corruption, deceit, and injustice. Love demands that we keep the door open wide for all to know and to follow Christ. Love demands that we give our all towards a world that expresses God’s goodness in every possible way.
My first grandchild is due to be born in January. I am extremely aware of how bad it could be for him to grow up in the kind of America the Left envisions, a country dominated by sexual freedom over religious freedom, by government control instead of individual liberties, by a centralized economy in place of a proper market economy. Should I not sound the alarm on his behalf? Of course I should. I must! Should I not speak the dangers clearly, persuasively, urgently? Should I not urge us all to do right? Should I not fight for the right?
And if not for my own grandson, shouldn’t I do it in love for other Americans, whether I know them or not? Shouldn’t we all speak, and act, and make our decisions with the same in mind? Yes, of course, we should!
Faith Frees Us to Fight
You and I may be okay, but this life isn’t about you and me. We’re okay, but that doesn’t free us from the fight, it frees us for the fight — the fight of grace, love, and truth. We need not cower and snarl like cornered animals. We’re free to stand straight, with open hearts and open hands; and when we do, we stand for others, in love.
Faith frees us. We’re free to speak truth, even to the detriment of our own reputations, if need be. We’re still okay.
We’re free especially to speak unpopular truths, because we know we stand on solid ground.
Faith frees us to speak life-giving truth, because God has gifted us with His truth.
Yet faith also relieves us from the arrogant, annoying confusion of thinking it’s our truth that we’re speaking. As I’ve said for years now, we don’t hold the truth; the truth holds us. We don’t own the truth, we yield to it in all humility. It’s not our truth, it’s God’s.
Faith still knows that truth is truth. False humility may say, “I could never know any truth,” but true humility says, “If God has spoken truth, who am I to second-guess Him?”
Faith frees us to love, for love means giving, and faith assures us we have enough to give and keep on giving. Love, too, means seeking the other’s best, and faith guides us to understand God’s wisdom as what’s truly best. And love flows a lot easier from a secure heart than a cornered one.
Faith leads and empowers us to fight not as the world fights, with hatred, deceit, and violence “according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:4), but with prayer, honest persuasion, and yes, the use of power as needed, but never its abuse.
Embrace the Paradox: Have Faith, and Keep Up the Fight
Not all Christian messaging lately has carried that easy sense of faith-filled confidence. Sometimes it’s because we do it wrong. Sometimes it’s because it’s just not easy. That’s the nature of this in-between existence. Sometimes, too, it’s because we can only say so much in one conversation (or one column!), so we have to rely on more than one to convey it all.
So let’s fight the battles with all we’ve got. Let’s do it with hope and a smile, though, and with a heart of compassion even for those who would call themselves our enemies.
So here is the approach for us to take as Christians: Understand we’re in between. It isn’t only about the election; we’re always in between. So let’s take a deep breath and try to normalize the experience.
But we do not normalize sin, corruption, deceit or oppression. Love constrains us. Our own okay-ness is not the point, for we ourselves are not the point. We are called to live for God and to serve others, not ourselves.
So embrace this in-between-ness we live in, this paradox of faith and love. Trust God. Love others. Let faith free you. Let it give you hope and joy. Let it remind you that you can expend yourself fully in the battle, and come out fine in the end. And for the love of God and others — not for yourself, since this isn’t about you or me — take up the battle and fight.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.