Last week I sat at a breakfast table with prominent New York City faith leaders. The topic of the morning was: "In this post-election moment, what issues are you passionate about? And what scripture lays the foundation for your passion?" Great question. We each had five minutes to share.
I answered that there are two major commands in scripture. 1. Love God/ love your neighbor, 2. Do not fear. Why does fear matter so much? Because, according to Jesus, fear is the opposite of faith. Fear compels us to take things into our own hands. It tells us to crush our neighbors and ultimately, to crush the image of God on earth through oppression, greed, and apathetic disengagement, which allows poverty and injustice to thrive.
I'm heartbroken right now. The Tea Party movement rose in this country on a wave fear. It is a fear-based movement. It is not based on love.
Rand Paul was elected to the Senate after saying he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. This is not love.
In House races across the country, good Republicans and Democrats, with histories of collaboration and getting things done, were forced out by fans of fear. This is not love.
Tea Party candidates -- now elected -- have called for tax cuts for the richest Americans, even as they proposed a way to balance the budget by eliminating public education and the Department of Justice -- both of which were created to ensure equal opportunity and protection under the law to every American. This is not love.
This is not faith.
Faith compels us to love. Faith compels us to consider others as more important than ourselves. Jesus commands us to love sacrificially, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
My heart is grieving because I see people being wooed by the power of fear. What we have failed to see ... and to believe is this: Love is more powerful than fear!
The policies we support should be rooted in sacrificial love -- not fear.
Churches all over the world have entered into the season of Advent. Advent is our chance to step into Mary's shoes ... and wait for a promise to be born.
Henri Nouwen points out in his Advent essay, "Waiting for God": "The whole opening scene of the good news is filled with people waiting. And right at the beginning all those people in some way or another hear the words: 'Do not be afraid...'" He reflects, "Fearful people have a hard time waiting."
And so we wait ... for the promise to be born.
Lisa Sharon Harper is the executive director of New York Faith & Justice and author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican ... or Democrat.