Two years of Covid have also contributed to high levels of anxiety. According to an American Psychological Association/Harris poll conducted on March 1-3, financial stress is at the highest level since 2015. Inflation and the Russia-Ukrainian war also contribute to deep worry. “Americans have been doing their best to persevere over these past two tumultuous years,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO of the American Psychological Association. “[B]ut these data suggest that we’re now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope.”
But should followers of Jesus be controlled by such anxiety? Does the Christian faith afford a better hope? What better time to take inventory and reflect on these questions than on this Good Friday—a high holy day for Christians. If there was ever overwhelming anxiety and fear followers of Jesus faced, it was on this day nearly 2000 years ago when the Messiah was
crucified on a Roman cross.
I had lunch with a friend the other day and we talked about what it must have been like BC. Before Christ, people had no hope of being saved from their sins. They carried the weight of their own guilt and shame. There was no hope of eternity and peace with God. Their day was described by the prophet Isaiah as “people walking in darkness.” But Isaiah goes on to say that one day they would “see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2) Some 700 years later “the light of the world” came.
But the people’s idea of what they needed and what Jesus offered were two different things. When Christ came into Jerusalem on what Christians recognize as Palm Sunday, the Israelites were expecting a conquering king, one who would drive out the Romans. A few days later he was humiliated, rejected, and killed.
Jesus came to deliver the Israelites from a greater concern than the Romans. He delivered them from the tyranny of sin. He came not just for the Israelites, but for the whole world, including their enemies. He came not to simply jockey political leaders in his day but as a king to bring an everlasting kingdom.
Which brings me back to the angst over similar temporal issues I see within evangelical Christendom. Politics and policy positions grounded in God’s truth should matter deeply. But when politics and culture don’t go the way of God’s kingdom, we don’t lose hope. Nor do we give into the flesh and take things into our own hands so to speak. After all, Jesus took nails into his hands, so we can rest in his work, and engage life and issues in a way that honors his sacrifice.
When engaging the world, Christians are grounded in God’s kingdom principles; Humility, grace, and patience should be marks of the Christ follower. Loving thy neighbor as thyself is the second great command that reflects just how much we’re committed to the first great command which is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And it goes even further to where Christ commands us to love our enemies. There is no earthly explanation when this is done, except that Jesus loved us while we were still at war with him (Rom. 5:8).
There is a real battle today between good and evil. But Jesus worked through the greatest act of evil and triumphed over it on the cross. When evil seems to have the upper hand, we must be reminded that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” by his work on the cross (Col 2:14-15).
So, Christians have a new identity and new path in life through Christ. They are freed from the weight of sin. They are also freed from political anxiety of who’s in the White House and who controls Congress. Christians ultimately live in hope, not fear. And this is because of Christ’s sacrifice that we commemorate today and his resurrection we’ll celebrate this Easter Sunday. And that’s good news.