Yesterday, I watched a press conference in which our President, in many ways affirmed the legitimacy of white supremacist who recently rallied in Charlottesville, VA by saying erroneous things such as “there were good people marching as well” and “There is blame on both sides”. As I watched this video, I actually cried. My heart was shattered as I watched a display of insensitivity, ignorance, and animosity, that one would never expect from a President, especially one who claims to be a Christian. As a Pastor, I am honored to lead a diverse congregation of people, some of which voted for Trump considering him the “lesser of 2 evils” and others who vehemently support him, which is their right. Also, many people in our church have strong oppositional views. As a Pastor, I have never felt it was my responsibility to promote political parties, or politicians, I have always aimed to exalt biblical values, and the call to love. When President Obama was in office, I took heat from many people because I refused to accept his views on certain issues, and in the same way, I’ve taken heat because I refused to endorse Trump or agree with him on issues. My point is that I’m a Christian. My allegiance is to Jesus. After yesterday’s press conference I was greatly concerned and posted my feelings in an unfiltered way. While this provided personal relief, it didn't accomplish the goal of unifying or creating hope. After a pastor friend of mine provided some constructive criticism to my approach I decided to remove the post. Still, deeply disturbed by President Trump and this growing wave of white nationalism, I begin to pray “how do we respond”. Below are some of my thoughts. I pray that you may find some Godly counsel in my words. As Christians, we have to learn to use wisdom and discretion and make sure our speech edifies others, not just relieves our emotions. most of us are trying to do just that, but we must be careful to never empower the spirit of dishonor or inadvertently sow seeds of discord, even when those whom we hold to the highest standards of responsibility do just that. We can’t settle for simply giving voice to the frustration of the masses, because that is illegitimate influence. You may become popular through saying the things that others are afraid to say, but our goal is not popularity it’s influence, and influence that turns people to the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
There are fine lines between wisdom, courage, fear, cowardice, and denial. The goal of navigating these tensions is ultimately to be true, not necessarily respected or even understood. To be truthful is often to be polarizing, and that is the very nature of truth, it draws a line between that which is right and wrong, that which is light and that which is dark. Every Sunday when I stand before the congregation to preach the gospel, I often offend people and make them uncomfortable, while that is never my goal, it is what happens when their lifestyles, mentalities, and beliefs are confronted by the truth of God's word. To tell a man that cheating on his wife is a sin against God may offend him, but it will actually save his life if he takes heed. To tell a drug user that their habit of smoking marijuana is a sin, it may anger them, they may accuse me of being judgmental, but it does not change the truth of my message. What I learned as a preacher was to fear God and not man. To "cry aloud and spare not". The prophets of old and the call of God upon His bride is to do exactly that, to fear Him, keep His commands, and to expose wickedness. While the bible does call for Christians to honor leaders, even bad ones, the bible does not call for us to be silent about their anti-Christ agenda's or ungodly character, ESPECIALLY when those supposed leaders, claim to be disciples of Christ. For many of you reading this, there is a great pain in your heart concerning the Presidency of Donald Trump. You are saddened by the lack of boldness from leaders in exposing his vitriolic and divisive rhetoric. You have been stunned by the silence of many in the body of Christ, who very boldly, vocally, resisted, name-called, demeaned, and slandered President Obama who came before him. I understand this frustration and I share your sentiments. I too have witnessed the very blatant sexism, insensitivity, narrow-mindedness of President Trump. It is important to note, that acknowledging these attributes of the President is not to dishonor him, but to assess him, so that we can pray for him. To be in denial is actually what is anti-biblical. So the question then is how does a Christian respond? Thankfully, the answer to that is very simple, we only need to look to the words of Jesus found in Matthew chapter 5 where we are called to "bless those who curse us" to "pray for those who spitefully use us". The call is to love. The call is to death. The call is to lose our life to find it. The call is to trust in the Lord who raises leaders up and sets them down. The call is to be wise against the plan of the enemy which is to divide us and to destroy us.
What also seems to be frustrating many people is that in the evangelical church world, many leaders have been celebrating the election of Trump as if the Messiah has returned. Often the same group which routinely demonized, dehumanized, delegitimized, and dishonored President Obama have suddenly asserted themselves as moral authorities. Many of you attend churches where your leaders promoted the republican party, promoted politicians, and have now been eerily silent in the light of Trumps daily antics. I assure you people of God, the bible is the only standard of truth, not the preference of men concerning politicians. Never fear disagreeing with someone, but always make sure you do it in love. To "walk in love" as we like to say is not to be silent, it is actually to speak up for the greater cause, in defense of truth and freedom. If our "walking in love" results in passivity, that is not love we are walking in but fear, and fear as a result of intimidation. Be bold, speak up, but ask God to sanctify your motives. The truth is President Trump is just a mere man, who needs a mighty encounter with the spirit of God. We can pray for him, honor him, and also not agree with him. There's a scripture I think sums it up perfectly.
Ephesians 4:1-6 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”