Believer’s Response to Donald Trump’s Presidency – An Exhortation for our Christian Witness

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

I’ve been reticent to comment about anything regarding the election on social media outlets or to even participate in conversations simply due to the anger, fear and disappointment of the many people I’ve seen share thoughts over the last few months. It has been such an emotionally driven time and honestly, part of me has struggled with why people are “so bothered” by the reality of President Trump.  In the same sense, part of me completely understands the disappointment and dismay of so many Americans.

What has challenged me the most, however, over the past several months is the response of so many believers around the country. I don’t say this to lump ALL believers into one category, but as a frequent user of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, text messaging and general conversation, I was overwhelmingly shocked at the general rhetoric around the election and now inauguration of Donald Trump.  I’ve held many conversations with people over the last several months and I’ve had to remove myself (and my posts) at times because the response has been so vehement and un-Christ-like, that it was simply not worth further engagement.

I would, however, in the spirit of Hebrews 10:24-25, challenge us, as believers, to be biblical and in our response to the election and subsequent climate and rhetoric around our local and national communities. It is my intent to offer a biblical perspective that I honestly have not seen shared on social media, heard from many pulpits, or had in dialogue with other believers. My hope is to generate dialogue and healthy disagreement if necessary, so I only ask that you read this blog in its entirety AND the passages of scripture included for context and the complete counsel therein.

Many of us have read daily, the disappointed, awe-struck, fearful, angry, confused and upset responses to the election. The rhetoric around racism, sexism, every other “ism” and phobia, coupled with the expressed disappointed of “how this could have happened” has consumed social and news outlets. I’ve seen many who are committed to prayer for our country as they try to figure out how to explain this to our children. I see some who have issued calls for action and commitment to the fight for justice and fair democracy. I also see many who have concluded that racism and the hidden agenda of white elites are the exclusive causes of the election outcome.

Let me sidebar to say that while there are many opinions on “Why” this has happened, please know that I do not discount the pain and hurt that people feel. I do not write to dismiss those feelings, but to rather challenge the on-going impact those feelings have on our witness, as believers, to the world.

What concerns me, more than Trump’s election and nomination of his cabinet members is the fearful response that I see believers expressing over the results. There has been a hateful and overly abrasive response and tone from those of us who are to be equipped with the Love of Christ, which extends even to “The Donald”. With that said, I’m sharing some responses to recurring themes I’ve seen on social media, news media, and in conversation. You are welcome to disagree with me and to even challenge my thoughts; I only hope you do so with respect, undergirded by love.

As believers, we should recognize that Donald Trump is not the enemy … he is a man, a vessel, a finite being. Our faith should allow us to see beyond the manifestation of Trump’s behavior and that of his supporters and perceive that there is real spiritual warfare going on that transcends what we can see with the physical eye. Our response to spiritual warfare has to be spiritual … with the “Sword of Truth”. Fighting against flesh and blood, exclusively, will not accomplish the Kingdom agenda. (Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Timothy 1:7-14). This does not preclude people from marching, protesting, and expressing their views, but if that is the beginning and end of your strategy to address change, you’ve fallen short.

If you’re are a believer, then the result of the election should not change your outlook on life as a citizen in this country. Why? Because you’re not a citizen of this country, you’re simply an exile passing through. Somewhere between all of our westernized comforts and options for entertainment, we’ve embraced this place as our permanent residence. Our desire to maintain our possessions and comforts coupled with our denial of the fact that Christians are promised suffering, can easily lead to forgetting that we are pilgrims in this land. Yes, I said the “S” word … suffering. Westernized Christianity with our air-conditioned churches, comfortable pew seats, and fancy bible apps have in many ways lost the fact that we are not promised a life of comfort and ease. If we truly want to identify with Christ, we should be mentally and spiritually prepared, especially in these last days, for the life of the believer to be less and less comfortable.  (Philippians 3; John 14:1-3; 1 Peter 1:13-22)

As a believer, recognize that Trump (and anyone who promotes a rhetoric in line with his campaign) is simply a human, made by God, and is in need of the same Jesus that we need. He needs the same life-altering Love of Christ that we are charged to give those we encounter. He is the type of person Jesus would have sat with, reasoned with, loved on, and ministered to (which means to serve) and that is what he would expect of us. There’s been so much hatred expressed for Donald and his supporters that those of us who hate what he stands for, have, in many ways, affirmed and proven that we have the propensity to exemplify the same behavior. Let us not forget that judgment starts at the church and not the White House. We are the light. We are the salt of the earth. We should set the tone and the example. (1 Peter 4:17; Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 12:1-2)

Regardless of the hashtags on social media, Trump IS your president. You can deny it if you want, but based on poll results and the recent inauguration, it’ll be hard to disprove this truth. That being said, we have a responsibility as believers to respect his authority as president and commander in chief. Note, I did not say agree with or cosign, I said respect. We also have a responsibility to trust God’s wisdom and sovereignty in allowing Trump to be elected. I don’t say this to emulate the popular cliché “I’m not worried, God is on the throne”, (which is often used as a cop-out from really trusting him and engaging dialogue),  but rather a deep understanding that His wisdom in this, while potentially unknown to us, is what we can rest on though the situation appears to be less than desirable. It’s bigger than Trump. If you teach your children that he is not your president, when he indeed, is, you’re lying to your kids and contradicting scripture. Instead, teach your kids what it means to stand firm on God’s word, to pray for our country’s leadership, not to fear man, but rather to trust God and our blessed hope in Christ Jesus. And don’t forget to model it as well. (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 11:33-36)

If you, as a believer, have done any of the following over the past 2 months, you need to repent:
1. Called Trump’s supporters idiots, stupid, or foolish.
2. Blamed the entire election solely on white supremacy, racism, sexism and etc.
3. Told other friends to “unfriend you” on social media if they didn’t vote for Hillary or chose not to vote.
4. Posted/Spoken any of the hateful rhetoric that has caused someone else to stumble.
5. Posted/Spoken any disrespectful comments towards Trump or his supporters.

We are allowed to be upset and even angry. You have a right to have those feelings but you do NOT have a right to harbor them. You do not have a right to berate, falsely accuse, name call and disrespect people for their political positions. If you’re harboring bitterness towards any group of people as a result of the election, you need to repent. That includes the KKK and any politician or political party. Our response cannot look like the world’s response. Our response should be different … peculiar. Our response should genuinely make others curious as to why our outlook and continued joy abounds. People should wonder why believers aren’t distressed and distraught over this situation. People should wonder why we’re praying more, fasting more, and sharing the Gospel more. We need to reject and deny the temptation to simply identify with the emotional, hateful, and fearful response of the world. (Ephesians 4:26-32; Titus 2:11-15)

If we’ve blamed racism, white supremacy, sexism, and bigotry as sole contributing factors of our current political climate/situation and have not identified the major overarching issue as Sin, we’ve missed the mark. Blaming anything but Sin and man’s distant heart from God (which fuels the “isms”) will only leave you continually frustrated in the “fight” for justice because you will always be addressing manifestations of sin and not the root cause. If your answer to any of these factors is anything but the redeeming love of Jesus, which should be lived out and expressed by us; if your strategy includes everything but the life altering, life-giving truth of the Gospel; if your online rants are void of the love of Christ … then you (we) need to repent.  Please note that I did not say to ignore the effects of racism, white supremacy, sexism, and hate. What I am saying is that these elements do NOT function in isolation, but are the FRUIT of a sinful and fallen world.

We cannot subscribe solely to what society says are the contributing factors and we cannot merely adopt societies solutions to these issues. If your answer is not The Word of God, which does not need the supplement of the world’s strategies, then you’re giving the wrong answer. (Romans 2:1-11; Hebrews 12:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:23-31; James 1)

In closing, I believe this election, more than any other in my life time is testing our ability to “love our neighbor” (Matthew 22:39), which is not a command to love only our “Christian” neighbor.  This includes the racist neighbor who wears his “Make America Great Again” hat and the independent neighbor who voted for a lesser known candidate or did not vote at all. It includes middle school students who tease their Latin American peers by saying they will be deported. It includes the male chauvinist who thinks it is acceptable to marginalize his female counterpart.  Our response to this and more should be different than the world’s response, not in line with it. Why? Because the world’s response does not include any real solution for the condition of man’s heart, for the heart of the matter is indeed, the matter of the heart. (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 5:1-8; 1 Peter 2:1-12)

I respectfully submit this in the spirit of love and concern for our witness and testimony before Jesus. I have not attained perfection in this and would hope my family in The Faith would keep me accountable as I desire to do with you.

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