|Trump Won, But Christians Lost|
(by Chris Long)
Here in the U.S. it is now official: Donald J. Trump has been sworn is as the 45th President of the United States.
The election of Donald Trump has thrilled his supporters and very much upset those that did not vote for him. There is real division out there over this and a lot of concern. As a consequence, you can find any number of articles and commentators looking at this and evaluating Trump, Clinton, the Democrats, and the Republicans from a political point of view. The media is full of such political bantering.
My goal in this is neither to defend nor knock Donald Trump, so if that's what you're looking for, there are no shortage of other articles out there that can fill that void for you.
As an American, I wish Donald Trump well and want him to succeed. Let me be clear: Donald Trump is my president. I pray for him and his family and America, and encourage you to do the same. This article and writing today is not about him. It is not about political points or issues surrounding him. And I want to make that very clear up front.
Rather, this article is written for my fellow Christians and was birthed out of a deep concern I have based on what I witnessed from many Christians during the 2016 election season. Regardless of whether a Donald Trump presidency is ultimately a good or bad thing for the United States, and regardless of whether many Christians are happy that Donald Trump was elected, I can say unequivocally that the real loser in this election was NOT Hillary Clinton. It was Christians that lost this election, and we lost it big time.
Note that I said "Christians" and not "Americans." The jury is still out on the latter. Time will tell on the American front, and as stated, I absolutely wish him well. While I have some areas of concern in that department, I also have some genuine hope and excitement on the purely American/political plane. So we'll all see how it plays out.
But regardless of the political, Christians lost big time - even though many Christians right now are oblivious to this. Many are so excited regarding the political ramifications of a Trump presidency that they haven't even considered it.
Already, based only on what I've written above, some are no doubt already starting to conclude that I must have been a Hillary Clinton supporter that is angry at the election result and thus feel a need to vent my frustrations at my fellow Christians that by-and-large voted for Donald Trump. The fact that some might even be thinking that based on very little data is in-and-of-itself indicative of a problem, but we'll set that aside for now. However, to just get it out of the way, I'll state up front that that conclusion would be unfair on multiple levels.
By and large in our society, Christians are perceived to be judgmental, hypocritical, and angry (full of hate). These aren't new conclusions that society at large has drawn regarding Christians, but unfortunately many Christians reinforced it to such incredible levels in 2016, that I am quite confident that our "favorability" rating among society went down significantly even from what it was (which wasn't much). And that sadly was well-deserved.
In 2016, I witnessed well-meaning (but misguided) Christians be so fervent about their political candidate of choice that they posted and shared all sorts of hurtful and demeaning things regarding the political opposition, both in real life, and especially on Facebook and other social media. I witnessed Christians sharing LOTS of "Fake news" stories declaring reprehensible and vile things such as that Hillary Clinton was affiliated with an underage sex ring in a pizza shop - something that any clear-thinking person ought to be able to dismiss out-of-the-gate and realize as crazy, but which Christian after Christian shared and passed on. I witnessed Christians, in the name of Jesus, declaring that certain political candidates were prophesied by God to be the "chosen one" to help us at this time. I witnessed Christians dismiss the feelings of people genuinely scared and concerned about various issues and treat those people with strong rhetoric and blunt political arguments, instead of showcasing the love and compassion of Christ. I witnessed Christians continually promoting division and discord. I witnessed Christians, when presented with indisputable and clear evidence of wrongdoing on their candidates' behalf, choose to excuse that behavior and ignore it, all the while having the been the same people that in years past railed against the political opposition for doing similar things.
On the Clinton side, I saw Christians ignore Clinton's record on abortion, homosexual marriage, lying, deceit, coverups, arrogance, scandals, and more.
On the Trump side, I saw Christians ignore (or even support) Trump's intense rhetoric on the racial front, his arrogance and pride, his lewd and vulgar language, his view of conquering and winning at all costs and viciously demeaning those who speak against him, and more.
When President Obama wanted to sidestep Congress by issuing lots of executive orders, many traditional Americans (of which many are also Christian) condemned that behavior and saw it as dictatorial. The facebook posts and emails about Obama trying to impose martial law and take over as dictator were everywhere. When Trump said he would use lots of executive orders to do things he wanted to do, some of the same people that condemned Obama were thrilled at the prospect.
In the 1990's, Bill Clinton faced near-universal condemnation from Christians because of his inappropriate sexual behavior. Yet 20 years later when Donald Trump, the favorite of many Christians, was shown on tape showcasing behavior that implies and underlies a similar type of thing, it was dismissed and explained away by Christian after Christian. The same people that railed for years against Bill Clinton and about having a president that showcased a terrible view of sexual ethics, now were rushing to defend a man with apparent similar sexual ethics, simply because they happened to politically agree with him. They desperately wanted to impeach one, but rush to defend the other. To speak out harshly against one, but talk of extending grace and mercy to the other.
None of this went unnoticed by our culture. We were a joke before. We are an off-the-charts joke now. And we deserve every bit of that laughter and scorn.
Even now, there are Christians who spend the majority of their facebook posts writing and sharing about how great Trump is and how terrible Obama, Hillary, the Democrats are. Their smugness and excitement because "their guy" won is all over their posts. Instead of using facebook to shine a bright light of love and sharing Jesus and trying to build bridges with people, they instead are sharing division and discord and turning people off to the message that really NEEDS TO be shared. The message of Jesus gets incredibly convoluted and diluted and contradicted because of all the political spouting.
Christians are supposed to be the ones promoting love and compassion, and dealing in truthfulness and honesty. Instead, we have shown ourselves to be two-faced double-talkers spewing strong statements with harsh language. The culture that already saw us as "haters" have had that opinion greatly reinforced.
When Hillary Clinton referred to half of the country as "deplorables", that position is based on an underlying feeling that many have that many people that are traditional politically (and often associated as Christian religiously), also are incredibly intolerant and full of hate. They truly believe that we are backwards, uncompassionate, hate-filled people who are out to harm the rights of people. They are wrong of course. The Christian world view is the exact opposite of this. But unfortunately, our society doesn't know that. And the reason they don't know it, is because we haven't shown them that. We have shown them the opposite.
While the Church does need to stand up for what is right, and it is true that many Christians have seriously errored in this area by embracing and excusing things the Bible explicitly condemns, many that have taken a forceful stand did so without accompanying that stand with love and grace. We took on our culture as a war, seeing the other side as the "enemy", instead of those that Jesus Christ loves and died for and cares deeply about. We saw the forest, but missed the trees. And when we did see the trees, we ran to cut those trees down!
As I read my Bible, I find that I can't support many of the liberal policies. I also find I can't support a church or Christians that put politics above what their own Bible tells them about love and decency and how we're to conduct ourselves. Many of the same Christians that use their Bibles to speak against things like gay marriage or abortion apparently miss the myriad other Scriptures that also say things like where Jesus tells us that we should be known for our love. We speak out on one thing but break others in the process in the way we conduct ourselves.
While we do need to stand up for what is right, we also need to watch HOW we go about standing up for God's Word. Far too often, we (myself included at times) have done so in an incredibly grace-less and love-less manner, which just makes the culture angry and want to rebel even more against what we are saying. Then, in response, we just shout even louder against the culture - and down the spiral goes... One can think they are being loving by taking a stand because they want what's best for others and because it's right, and still come across as an absolute jackass to others if all they are doing is spouting strong opinions and calling those they disagree with names... (sorry for the use of the word "jackass" - it's the best one I could think of to describe - you can substitue "donkey" if you prefer :) )
2 Timothy 2:24-26 says: "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." (ESV)
Many Christians have been quarreling like crazy and have been correcting their opponents with anything but "gentleness".
Many Christians have been rewriting what it means to be a Christian for our culture. By intermixing strong political positions with our spiritual ones, our spiritual message gets greatly diluted and it makes it far more likely for people to dismiss us (and thus Jesus) out-of-the-gate without even hearing us out. When I read the New Testament, you know as well as I that there were all sorts of difficult and frustrating things going on politically for the Church at the time, and yet you never see Paul or the other writers spend any notable time making a case for or against political positions or figures. Their focus was on Jesus, what we have through Him, and how we are to live as a result. I'm sure they had their political beliefs and I'm sure they talked about them, but their focus was on the eternal kingdom and not the temporal earthly one.
The real irony is that much of the way society has been going that Christians have railed against is directly because the Church has failed to really be the Church. In other words, most of the things that Christians get upset over, they actually indirectly caused or contributed to by the way we have misrepresented Jesus and the Church and it has pushed people away. People are seeking truth, but they aren't seeing it in us. They just see a bunch of pretenders and hypocrites. And stuff like happened during this election just hammers that in.
So yes, friends, Trump won the election. But Christians lost. Probably far more than we even realize at this juncture.
Now am I saying there's no hope? No! What I am saying is that we as believers need to change strategies. The culture knows what we are against. It's about time they knew what we were for. Not politically, but as it relates to life in general. And the top of that list is love. Christians should be the ones living in reality proving out the truth of this Good News Gospel of Love. Our focus needs to be on showing and sharing the love of Jesus in honesty and truth, backing up our words with lives to match. We need to be bridge builders and not just dismiss people because they have contrary political or moral views than us. Jesus died for those people and He wants them to know His love and to enter relationship with them. But how are they going to know Him if they are repulsed at the thought of being a Christian?
May we all keep our eyes on Jesus and not on political candidates (which come and go). Our eternal kingdom TRUMPS (pardon the pun) the earthly political one. Let's keep our focus in the right place, and make sure our lives and behavior are matching our God-given mandate as "Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are not "Trump ambassadors" or "Clinton ambassadors", but Jesus' ambassadors. Let's not mix that up. An ambassador reaches out on behalf of their King. An ambassador strives for peace. An ambassador that wants to be respected and listened to acts with decency and civility and love.
Our world right now is promoting division and it seems like everybody is angry about someone or something. As Christians, our call is to promote peace - and it's very easy to forget that and get sucked into throwing mud along with everyone else.
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18)
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:15)
Donald Trump wants to make America great again. Good - I'm all for that.
Church, it's high time we had a revival of our own.
"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all." (2 Thes. 3:16)
This is version 1.2 of this document (January 25, 2017).