Yesterday Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States of America. Everybody is talking about it. It was a great political upset. Some are ecstatic. Others are devastated. Some are relieved. Others are beginning to fear what’s next. What is the proper response for the Christian?
There is no easy or simple answer to that question. But, I want to try and answer it in this weekly update. The reason is because our nation needs to heal from the wounds that were inflicted during this last election season. That healing also needs to take place within the church.
At a national and local level there were sharp disagreements between Evangelical Christians on “what Jesus would do” were He in our shoes. Motives were questioned and things were said that cannot be unsaid. In our own local church, there were disagreements on what Christians should do with their vote. That’s natural.
There is no political party that perfectly advocates for Christian values. There is certainly no political candidate that perfectly represents the values and vision of the Kingdom of God. So how is our church to come together and find unity now that our President has been elected? How can the capital C Church model unity for the rest of the watching world?
Let’s start by thinking about unity. Seeking unity for the sake of having unity is dangerous. It has led some to rally behind leaders or ideas that end up doing great harm. Seeking unity for the sake of unity is what got Jesus crucified. When seeking unity, we first need to ask “Behind what or who, exactly, do we unite?”
For Christian people, this is an easy answer. We aren’t obligated to unite behind any one candidate or any one party platform. We are called to unite behind the person, values and agenda of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was true before the election and it remains true after the election.
Insofar as Trump’s administration advances that Christian vision, we should unite behind it. Insofar as his administration deviates from that Christian vision, we should stand against it. The Church should never give blanket support to a politician because our allegiance isn’t to a party or a platform. Our allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Kingdom that is to come.
Christians lose their way when we put our ultimate hope in a political candidate or a political platform to do for our country what needs to be done. I had a professor who loved to say, “Politics reflects the culture. It doesn’t change it.” Elections are a thermometer of the culture at any given moment. Changing a culture comes from the bottom up, not the top town.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ remains the one true hope for our country and our world. Insofar as a Trump administration allows that to happen, we need to be grateful and celebrate. Insofar as it fights against that hope, we need to fight against it. In either case, we need to pray for all of our political leaders irregardless of their platform.
Christians should be model citizens irregardless of who is in office. Until and unless the laws of the land contradict the revealed will of God, we need to submit to them.
In short, Christians need not be overly celebratory nor overly devastated. We should reject triumphant nationalism and defeatist fatalism. We should instead embrace Gospel-centered optimism and good-intentioned patriotism.
We should all be able to agree on that. We should all be able to come together behind that. A failure to do so only exposes a misalignment between Christ and his Church, our hope for the world and His.
My goal isn’t to silence the winners and encourage the losers. My goal is to remind us that anytime we make winners and losers in the Church, we lose. Republicans won last night. Democrats lost. But the success of the Kingdom of God never relied on either party winning.
Our allegiance is to that Kingdom and that Kingdom will never lose. In that way, there can never ultimately be “winners and losers” in the Church.
So, yes, let’s unite as a country. Let us unite in praying for our leaders, in striving to be model citizens, and in seeking the best for the nation in which we live. Above that, let’s unite behind our ultimate leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s be model citizens of our true kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Let’s seek the good of what lives beyond our nation, the Church of Jesus Christ.
That is something around which all of God’s people can unite. I know that the political winners will still celebrate and the political losers will still grieve. But, at the end of the day, let’s identify first as citizens of the Kingdom and only secondly as supporters of a political party.
Some verses to meditate on as I close.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:29-30)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Have a great rest of your week!