*The following is a guest post by my friend Jacob Evers. He holds an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Check out his blog here.
In a world that seems to fear everything, and a country that seems to believe that everyone is out to get us, how do we as Christians interact in the religious milieu that surrounds us? As Anabaptists, our first goal should be to separate ourselves from the idea that we are Christian Americans, or even American Christians. We have a rich history of separation of Church and State and we should keep it that way. One of the biggest challenges facing the American Evangelical Church is separating itself from the idea that America is a Christian nation. We are Christians that happen to live in America.
The next hurdle is getting over our fear. Fear destroys, and pulls apart. Fear leads to bitterness, and anger, and then we start to stereotype. 1 John says “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Jesus similarly says “love your neighbor” and “love your enemy.” Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and any other world religion, are not out to destroy Christianity, and even if they were, are we truly following Jesus if we hate them, persecute them, or don’t do everything within our power to live at peace with them?
In a world where many are killing for what they believe, I absolutely insist that the Anabaptist way of thought that we will gladly die for our King, but never kill for him should be our motto. Are we truly following the commandment of our Lord to love our enemies when we spread rumors, or breed hate by making our brothers and sisters in Christ believe that other world religions are evil? When was the last time we visited a Mosque, had lunch with a Buddhist, or ate a Kosher Sabbath meal with our Jewish friends? They are people, and according to Genesis they were created in the image of the Holy God. Just because they do not believe in what we believe does not make them evil. We must begin with the fact that people of other faiths are just that, people. If we can view them as people, we can see that they are created in the image of the Holy God. They are not suddenly evil simply because they worship other gods. They are still people, and they are loved. John says that God loved the whole world (or rather, all people) that He gave his only Son. If we can start with this basis, than we can understand and relate to people so much more easily.
The final piece brings us back to fear. If we take the Bible seriously, we must understand that no person can do anything to us that is worth fearing. I ask that we read Romans 8 soon, and see that Paul agrees that there is no condemnation in Christ. Although we may currently suffer and may currently experience death, there is a resurrection that is coming. When that resurrection occurs, all who are asleep in Christ will rise up, and even if we stumble now, we will realize that all along there was nothing to fear. For if we are truly in Christ, and he in us, then on Resurrection Day we shall rise up with Him, and forever more fear nothing. We can, however, start this Kingdom principle today. Therefore we should fear not and seek peace. Love God, and do what Jesus commands us: love our neighbors, enemies, and friends. If we hate our enemies, are we any different than those who do not follow Christ?