For freedoms sake we are called to defend our positions, to stand firm, not submitting ourselves again to a yoke of slavery. Over the course of the last several days I have considered many things about our current political crisis, and to be sure it is a crisis. I watched as many others did when President Trump took his oath of office, I watched as some in the opposing party cringed at the philosophy laid out in his inaugural address. I watched and listened intently to the prayers and recitations that took place by the various members of clergy. At the end of the day I must admit…I have concerns.
No, I am not concerned about the policies that the president will enact. I am not concerned about the possibility that in some way my rights may be infringed upon. I am not concerned about the rhetoric or offensiveness of his words. I am not concerned about the division that appears to have taken place within the halls of congress.
None of these things concern me, what does concern me however is our own willingness to buckle when the pressure increases. The desire we have to submit ourselves once again to a yoke of slavery. Too many in our society have been conditioned to believe that the government is the “end all-be all.” First, I think it’s important to remember that scripture declares the government will be upon HIS shoulders; and this is certainly not a reference to Trump, but rather to Christ. I find it interesting that in the last 16 years we have witnessed three different campaigns that won on very different, but in some ways very similar platforms.
The first being a message of compassion, you will remember that George W. Bush ran his campaign with a message of compassionate conservatism. I find that interesting because as a society we have no clue what real compassion looks like. Sure it’s a good catch-phrase, but to put that message to the task is to elicit varied responses from the masses. Some will say that compassion is to view life as God does and that the murder of unborn children is wrong; I don’t disagree. Still others will say that true compassion is to allow thousands of scarcely vetted immigrant’s access to our land and our freedoms. Or, that to show compassion is to allow everyone the opportunity to engage and participate in Holy Matrimony. The real question is, how does God line up on the issue? That is a question that most if not all will simply refuse to ask. Compassion literally means to be moved to pity and love in our most inward parts, but instead of having compassion on others, especially those that oppose our political or sometimes ideological positions, we bring down wrath and condemnation. If we are to learn anything of compassion, we are to learn it from Christ, whom though he had not sinned became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. A God-Man that loved so deeply (that even while the object of his affection was still in sin) He died for us. That my friends is compassion; to have died for a people that despised him, that spat upon him, and that would so callously trample the blood of our Savior under their feet.
The second was a campaign ran on a message of Hope. Hope in what? Progressiveness, post-modernism, liberalism, equal rights, women’s right…what exactly was our hope supposed to be in. Perhaps that was part of the problem after the election was won. It seemed as if nobody could agree on what exactly we were hoping for. That is with the exception of the liberal left. Again the problem is that hope is something to be enjoyed by all people. So where do we find this hope? How exactly do we identify a particular hope that all can agree upon. Turning once again to the Holy Scriptures we find that we are called to a living hope, one that does not put us to shame – a hope that is in Christ. It is of particular importance for us to understand and take heed of the fact by placing our faith in Christ we have a LIVING hope. You see the hope that so many people undoubtedly felt just eight short years ago is now dead. The evidence lies in the fact that many today our grieving over the outcome of the last election…some have allowed this grief to manifest itself in very destructive ways. If what we had experienced in the past was real hope, than to be sure it would not have been lost with the election of Donald Trump. Real hope is not found in a president, a politician, or any other celebrity or idol that one can craft. It is instead found in Jesus Christ.
The third campaign, which was filled with as much cynicism and divisiveness as we have witnessed in our lifetimes was a campaign built on a promise of greatness, or to be more specific a promise to restore the greatness that we once had. Fortunately for Donald Trump the power of nostalgia is enough to overtake the feelings of anxiety and reservations that so many had (and still do) about a Trump administration. The promises that were made were too many to count, and unfortunately politicians are never held to account for the promises they make. Yet again we see that scripture proclaims to us something different about greatness. In fact, while our president declared in his inaugural address “America First,” what we see in scripture something very different “the greatest among you will be the servant of all.” If we are to serve all people than we must have value for those people, coincidentally scripture would declare this as well “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” It is possible that God may still bless this country as he has in the past; of course it is also possible that God may be judging this country as he has others in the past. We are not above correction, but subjected to it when we go astray.
Scrolling through social media is another area of fascination for me, as I have discovered that many people are now praying for our president. My question is: were you not praying for the last president? It seems somewhat hypocritical that suddenly the church is compelled to pray. Prayer is something we are instructed to do, not compelled to do. For Christians maybe a better illustration will help to underscore the message. If your church is like ours, and you find yourself in a need of a pastor, perhaps you have been encouraged by your leadership to pray. To pray that God would identify that man and move in his heart to submit his resume, and then likewise to move in the hearts of your search committee, offering discernment and wisdom to know who that man is. Suppose that through these petitions God answers in a mighty way, delivering that man to your church: Do you then stop praying for that man? There is no need to answer the question; I know the answer, because I too am guilty of having pressed the pause button on prayer from time to time. But isn’t it true that our president as well as our pastors need as much prayer while they are administering their oath of office as they did while they were seeking it? Perhaps this then explains much about the current condition of our nation as well as our churches. Or maybe it is better stated to say that perhaps the current condition of our churches explains the current condition of our nation.
We have become far too political and far less theological in our leanings. The effects of such cataclysmic error are that we will, if we are not careful have submitted ourselves once again to a yoke of slavery. We are a free people, not because our government has extended those rights but because our savior with extended arms died for those rights. The freedom He offers serves to develop within us the compassion we long for, a compassion that will move us to love. In love we will learn to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure…all things. In the end it can be said our God is great and because of that we too have been privileged to know greatness. We are called to greatness…as a nation, as a people, as fathers, and mothers, and children. But let us also remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A great man is always willing to be little.”