Among Christians, a controversial issue has been whether we should vote for or against Donald Trump. On the one hand, some argue that he’s the best chance at fighting for the sanctity of human life and preserving what’s left of religious liberty. From this perspective, Trump is our least preferred but best hope on the issues of life and marriage and religious liberty.
On the other hand, however, others argue that he is a bully, liar, racist, sexually immoral, short-tempered, incompetent, and inexperienced. One brother in Christ who I respect and look up to wrote, “I think his campaign was built on fear, hate, nativism, isolationism, religious bigotry and intolerance, racism, and sexism.” According to this view, Donald Trump’s immoral character and lack of virtue disqualifies him from being worthy of the office.
In sum, then, the issue is whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that Trump is now the president-elect. My own view is that it’s good and bad. Though I concede that his character and campaigning disqualified him from getting my personal vote, I still maintain that it’s not all bad. For example, he gave a list of those whom he would appoint as supreme court justices and he’ll be appointing one real soon. Some might object that he will lead the nation to mistreat or restrict ethnic minorities. He will abuse his power and squash compassion. I feel that fear. It’s a real possibility. The challenges for Christians in the next 4 years are in some ways the same but in some ways very different than the challenges of the previous 8 years.
The issue of how American Christians should feel about President-elect Trump is important because we are the body of Christ sent to this nation for the glory of God and the representation of his kingdom. And yet settling that issue seems to miss the point God wants us to focus on. My recounting of the good and bad of a Trump presidency may be a bit helpful but that’s not where the really good really lies. I want to give you really good news and then exhort you with your most important tasks.
I have good news for all American Christians: for the elated, the deflated, and for those in between.
Some of you are deflated because it feels like ethnic people groups will be unjustly restricted or mistreated in increased ways with a Trump presidency. I understand that fear. You have the right to grieve and lament. Take your time. Lean on your church family and share your burden with them. And cling to the good news. The good news is God is glorious, omnipotent, and completely sovereign, so we don’t have to fear others. Let’s remember that God is big and the U. S. President is small.
More good news for the deflated and disappointed is that God is in control, so you don’t have to be. God has your joy, good, and his glory in your life on his mind and heart. We know because he gave us Jesus Christ his Son. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8.32). Some of you are disappointed in prominent evangelical Christian leaders who told their tribes to vote Republican. You feel disillusioned. Like Russell Moore wrote, many of us evangelicals are politically homeless. The good news is that God is good so you don’t have to look elsewhere. You don’t have to look to your political party or government or to 2020. Look to all that God is for you in Christ Jesus today.
For those of you who are elated and excited that Trump won, remember that God is God, not Trump. And that’s good news. Sure, God uses politicians. Everything is a means to his ends. Keep in mind that none of your favorite politicians brought the utopia that so many politicians promise. Neither will Trump. He won’t solve all of your problems. The good news is that King Jesus died and rose from the dead in 33AD. He has been declared King and still reigns to this day. And he is coming soon to bring in his kingdom and then a New Earth. True paradise. Then. Not now. Not through a U. S. President.
The good news for us all is that God is still working in this world. His kingdom is advancing. His sinner-saving, curse-reversing reign is moving forward. Not primarily through the U. S. government. That’s not where the action is. America is not the center of the world today. Neither is Washington. Nor the White House. The local church is the center of the world today. Your local church. And every local gospel-affirming church. Jerusalem with its temple once was what your gospel church now is.
How shall we then live? How shall we focus for the good of our nation and neighbors in the next four years?
Don’t put your hope in politicians. They can’t sustain such high hopes and therefore are guaranteed to fail. Hope in the return of Jesus. He is our hope. His coming and the consummated kingdom is our hope. Jesus said, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown” (Revelation 3.11).
Pray for the salvation of our current president. And pray that God would also take out the president-elect’s heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh and write his law on that heart. Pray that both President Obama and President-elect Trump would repent from their sins, trust in Jesus Christ, and trust every word of our inerrant Scriptures.
Pray for them to have wisdom to lead our country. And ask God to use all of their decisions to the Christ-centered good of all Americans and the spread of the gospel even when they intend otherwise.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.1-4).
Pray to our Father in heaven to grant repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ to spread across our land. Ask that his Spirit be poured out and that another awakenening and revival breaks out in our nation for the good of our neighbors and the final salvaiton of the nations. Pray for as many gospel-affirming churches as you can.
Pray that your local church would be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ.
Love one another as Christ has loved you (John 13.34-35). Love your church. Move your church. Remember that when you move your church you change our world. As Mark Dever put it: “Before and after America, there was and will be the church. The nation is an experiment. The church is a certainty.” Build up your church into maturity (Ephesians 4.12-16). Speak the truth in love. Gospelize.
“Love your neighbors as you love yourself” (Mark 12.31). Give them the God of love. Show them love with your care, time, listening ear, meeting needs, and shared meals. Then tell them about Jesus. Gospelize.
Love the nations. Go and make disciples of all ethnic people groups (Matt 28.19). Pray to that end. Give to that end. Go to that end. Gospelize.
Love the triune God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12.30). Meditate on his love for you. Gospelize yourself. Paul says to the local church at Colossae:
So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3.1-4).