This has been a whirlwind of a weekend. From a gloomy morning on the 20th, coming to the grips with the reality of Trump becoming the United States president, to clear skies on the 21st, marching with millions in an emotional, hopeful, expectant stand. I never know what emotion hits me at any moment in time. While watching Aziz Ansari process through the last few days, I decided to check out the White House website. There I saw with my own eyes, the removal of an array of rights that used to belong under Issues. Now “our” focus is on jobs, jobs, money. In my nauseated state, I scroll through Facebook in hopes of brightening up with more glitter-filled march signs, and come across John Piper’s “How to Live Under An Unqualified President” piece. John Piper is a Christian pastor in Minneapolis. I clicked. After reading and nodding my head, I printed the piece and now carry it with me.
Before you stop reading, I want to ask for grace. I write this not because I have it figured out. I have so little figured out. I am struggling with finding my specific place. I struggle with saying the right thing, not being informed enough, getting bitter, the whole gamut of being imperfect. I write this because I want to continue the conversation and build on an action place of deeper listening, forgiveness, healing and movement.
In the post, Piper speaks with respect to the Trump presidency that Christians have historically thrived under terrible leadership. Christians flourish in times of terrible leadership. I want this. I believe this. One this means that we must first acknowledge that we are under terrible leadership. Trump is morally unqualified and lacks the experience to lead The United States of America. If you don’t see that, please read Piper’s post, watch Trump footage, read what Trump has said about women, immigrants, the marginalized. Wake up. I don’t say that to be rude, but if you cannot see how Trump is unqualified, then open your heart to seeing why this is so. If a whole world, from America to Antartica has come together to protest against this man, what does that say? If your black and brown and non-white brothers and sisters are hurting and scared around you, there is something wrong. If you don’t have black and brown and non-white brothers and sisters, that is another issue that further breaks my heart.
If we can stand on the same ground and recognize that our current leadership is not ideal, well, not good, let’s move onto the other part. Christians flourish in times of terrible leadership. What does “flourish” mean for us? What happened to Christians during the rule of Herod and Nero?
Christians left families and homes. They let go of comfort. They were persecuted. They were thrown in prison. They experienced isolation, loneliness, pain and unknowns. Why? All for the sake of the gospel. When we say Christians flourished, we mean the gospel was lifted up. The gospel, Jesus were lifted up. The message of hope and truth that rests on the death and resurrection of Jesus was spread. Christians flourished because Jesus’ name and life was declared. What flourishes in times of terrible leadership is Jesus and his hope. Not money. Not political power. Not status. Not health. Definitely not comfort. During bad leadership, the last thing that should be created are comfortable Christians. During bad leadership, comfort is all the more exchanged for Christ. And what did Jesus Christ preach?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
Judge not, that you be judged. Matthew 7:1
Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Matthew 12:33
You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24
This is what needs to flourish during this Trump presidency. We the church need to come together and do what Jesus has done and told us to carry out.
First, please acknowledge this earthly reality that is full of brokenness and hopelessness. Secondly, acknowledge the real pain that is right around you, in your congregation, in your family, at your work, in your neighbor. Finally, by the grace of Jesus, do not be a comfortable Christian. Because in your comfort, have you really chosen Christ?
This is my plea. I am tired and I am exhausted. I don’t want anymore divisions in the church. I ask for your forgiveness if I ever made you feel shame because you didn’t vote the way I did. I am sorry. Our God is a God of reconciliation and unity. I pray that the Holy Spirit brings me to my knees so that I am next to you, who is also on your knees. We are in this together. We live because Jesus has given us life. We love because God first loved us. Let us walk in light. Let us be bold and fearless for the sake of the gospel at such a time as this.
This is our time to stand firm on the Word of God, on a hope that is unshakeable, for justice that is rooted in the innate dignity of all peoples and with a boldness that believes that we have gained it all. Brothers and sisters, I love you because Jesus loves you. May that be what colors this message.