[See also: What if We Are Persecuted?!]
No government can ever guarantee that you or I will have nothing to be afraid of. And as the American Founding Fathers well knew, no government, not even ours, can be trusted with freedom to do just as it wants. The Founders built “checks and balances” into the US Constitution for very good reasons.
Political parties, political movements – your neighbors – even your friends and family – can harm you in a variety of ways. It might be accidental; sometimes it is deliberate. Most of us have experienced it at some level or other.
There is no law we can pass, no person we can elect, no agreement we can make that will guarantee that any particular person or group will never turn against us or persecute us or hurt us. So what is a Christian to do in this unpredictable and sometimes very dangerous world?
It is precisely this problem that prompted Jesus’ disciple Peter to write,
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)
The people he was writing to were suffering some serious persecution. Though likely random and technically illegal, it was happening. Still, Peter’s advice was that they keep their trust focused on the God of grace, and that they keep doing the good Jesus had called them to do – regardless.
Long before Peter, Isaiah wrote,
I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face… I will put my trust in him. (8:17)
Later, Isaiah makes clear what enormous blessings would come – even at that late date – if the religious and political leaders would honor God’s moral priorities.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations. (58:9-12)
This is very hopeful!
But it may not go that way. We may have to weep over unnecessary damage and loss happening to and around us.
Yet we must work against oppression, malicious talk, hunger, etc. We must love God and love our neighbors as Jesus directs. Then we can live with an underlying fearlessness – not arrogance, not bullying, but a fearless, calm love of God – while continuing our love for our neighbors – regardless.