For many of us, it’s more a sigh of relief than a victory shout. We wanted him – largely, at least – because of who he wasn’t, voting him in like a kid settling for a prom date he wasn’t crazy about but, since he couldn’t take the girl he really wanted, he could at least avoid taking the other girl who he really disliked.
Kinda hard to get too excited under those circumstances. But relief provides its own sort of rush, the tired Thank You Lord! joy of realizing that your fears aren’t going to be realized; you’ve been given a reprieve. That’s how I felt, at least, when I saw the numbers change this morning to prove we’ve officially said “You’re hired!” to the man so closely associated with the opposite phrase.
That’s hard and even scary news to the many Americans who see Donald Trump as a symbol of our basest instincts. He deserves some of that. The strutting, blustery guy who elbowed his fellow Republicans out of the way during the primaries, then made his opponent look Presidential during the debates with his interruptions and bombast, has his own mouth to blame for many of the image problems he’s carting to the White House with him.
We can argue whether his policies are xenophobic or harsh as so many claim, an argument I’d side with him on. But his posturing did make most of us, whether supporters or detractors, wince and worry.
Yet the man I saw early this AM acknowledging his victory deflated a lot of those worries, prompting me to wonder if I’ve been wrong all along about his temperament, or whether the gravity of his position is sinking in and birthing new levels of calm and maturity in our new President Trump. This was less La Donald and more Commander in Chief, a man in control showing gratitude and grace, inspiring fresh confidence. May this be an upward trend we see continue.
As for us, I’m speculating that some of my Christian friends who couldn’t in good conscience vote for him are also quietly relieved today. He got in, after all, without them having to dirty their hands at the voting booth, which is something akin to win/win. Maybe I’m wrong; just guessing.
For my part, I positioned myself as a Trump voter a couple months ago because I supported the direction I felt he would take the country, along with the policies and appointments I expected to come with his presidency. I don’t regret my position, and would have defended it if he lost. God grant that I was right.
God also grant that Christian Americans make this a time of serious repentance, sober thinking, and recommitment.
We just came razor-sharp close to a systematic, ruthless dismantling of religious liberty, crippling our ability to express and enforce Biblical teaching. Not in the culture, mind you, but within our own congregations.
Our positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenders would have put us at odds with a government which would have, under a different administration, insisted it knew better than us. From our Christian universities to our Sunday services, we would have eventually heard Big Brother telling us how to manage our bathroom facilities, hiring policies, and sermon content. And that would have only been the beginning.
Our identity as a nation also came close to taking a huge and possibly fatal hit. The blurring of borders and the denigration of American exceptionalism would trend us away from independence and towards a collective identity more associated with the UN than the US.
And that’s not to mention the taxation and hyper-regulating that business and individuals would face under a system committed to broadening government powers domestically while weakening them internationally.
Those are the just some of concerns I had, disputable for sure, and I’m very aware of my friends and family who strongly disagree. But for my part, I feel the people chose rightly, and that God has given the American church and nation
Repentance, Not Revelry
In response, I hope we’ll repent like zealots for every sin we’re rightfully accused of by our critics. Whether it’s the hypocrisy of the Christian man who opposes gay marriage but secretly gorges on porn, or the indifference of the comfortable believer to the homeless in her city, or the laziness of the church member who neglects prayer and Bible study but expects God’s blessing nonetheless, let’s grieve and wear the sackcloth for awhile Not morbidly, but sincerely, thanking God for not giving up on us and beseeching Him to help us appreciate His “new every morning” mercies.
I also hope we’ll take seriously the concerns of fellow citizens and believers – and there are plenty – who are in real distress over the election results. Let’s consider their fears as we hoped ours would be considered if the outcome was different today. We can learn from them where the weaknesses in our positions are and, when they’re right, let’s admit it, then act on that admission. Where they’re wrong, let’s explain why and try to persuade them.
And for those of us who supported him, let’s pray at least as hard for Donald Trump’s growth as we prayed for his election. Daily prayers for wisdom, humility, protection, teachableness, and favor with the nation and the world are, to my thinking, a job description for all of us. This man has made history in the most stunning, unlikely way, delivering a well deserved slap to the status quo. Who knows how God may shape and utilize that tenacity, much less that energy?
He wants to make America great again. The other He, who matters most, wants to make the Church godly again. May both of them succeed.