Of what are American Christians so afraid? I ask that question intentionally because it seems that our most important political decisions are made, not out of a theologically-informed world-view but out of a world-view that is permeated by fear.
Refugees from the Middle East: One of the most polarizing issues facing America today is the refugee crisis stemming from the destruction wrought by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Thousands of families are being displaced, and tens of thousands of people are on the move to seek hope in Europe and North America. Is is clear that some less-than-savory characters are taking advantage of the situation and stirring up wicked trouble in places across Europe. It is also clear that, as a result, most American Christians haven't given the first thought to helping. I can't say how many times I've been asked, "If you knew there were a couple of poisoned candies in the bag, you wouldn't eat any, right?" Well, of course not, but then again we don't have a God-given mandate for care for candy, do we? We do, however, have a mandate to care for orphans, widows, sojourners, and those in need.
Guns, guns, guns: As I read the 2nd Amendment, there is no guarantee or right given that individuals get to own guns for self-defense...or defense against a despotic, elected government. These ideas are foreign to the Constitutional Congress and the popular debates of the time. Even the NRA didn't argue for this until the last couple decades. These ideas are absurd. The plain reading of the amendment speaks only to the necessity of a "well-regulated militia," in other words, a force to defend us against aggression. Most the most vocal 2nd Amendment advocates are anything but a "well-regulated militia," quite the opposite. The fact remains that we still have this well-regulated militia. It's called the National Guard. Why are so many American Christians obsessive about this novel reading of the 2nd Amendment that demands we all arm up.
In my opinion, the motivation behind both of these attitudes is not sound theology, it is fear. While fear is a theological response, it is certainly not a good Christian response. As Americans, have we so bought into a delusional theology of glory and its accompanying physical comfort and lives of ease that we fail to see the biblical understanding of reality. The Christian life, as painted by Scripture and history, is surely not one of our best lives now, but of hardship and suffering indicative of a true theology of the cross. Our best lives are not in the here and now, but in the hereafter.
Yes, we ought to seek to protect our loved ones and our lives. Of course this is a good thing. There is no place for foolish recklessness. At the same time, putting self-preservation above faithfulness is not the Christian way. Why are so afraid? Perfect love casts out fear, does it not (1 Jn 4.18)? We act as though we've never read Jesus' words. "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do" (Lk 12.4, ESV).
Instead of living in fear these thugs who can merely harm our bodies, we ought to live lives faithful to the calling of the one who has overcome death.