In this special episode of Signposts, I discuss how Christians should respond to the election results and to President-elect Donald Trump. Listen to the episode below, and subscribe to Signposts to get new episodes automatically when they publish.
Below is an edited version of the transcript.
Donald Trump, of course, was elected last night as the 45th President of the United States. Hillary Clinton conceded in a speech just a few minutes before I’m recording this right now. There are several things we, as Christians, should be thinking about today.
The first of those is the requirement that we have to pray for and to honor our leaders. Now, many of you know, I had and have serious concerns about both of these major party candidates and I think one of the things that all of us can probably agree on across the spectrum in American life is that election 2016 was a demoralizing and some ways even traumatic thing for a lot of people. It was a divisive time, sometimes having husbands and wives and children and parents and churches and others divided from one another and so we can be glad that the election season is over. But now that it’s over, we have a responsibility to pray for and to honor our leaders.
Eight years ago, I called on Christians to honor President Obama and to pray for President Obama and one of those ways was to even in the way that we use language to refer to him as “President Obama,” not simply as “Obama” in our own households, and the same thing is true now. This will be “President Trump,” not just “Trump,” not cartoon character that we see on television, but the one who in the sovereignty of God, God has put in charge of the United States Presidency. We have a responsibility to pray for him, to pray for wisdom for him, discernment for our President, for support from his team, from his cabinet, from his family that he would make wise and just decisions. We have a responsibility to give him a chance and we have a tradition in American life where every president starts out with a blank slat, starts out with the benefit of the doubt and regardless of what’s gone on in the campaign before, regardless of what’s gone on in the years before in that person’s life or in that person’s policies, or in the person’s rhetoric, we give the new President the opportunity to lead, and I think we ought to do that now. I think that we ought to hope and pray that President Trump will turn out to be a wise and just and inclusive leader who actually brings about the unity of the American people. Let’s hope for the that and let’s pray for that.
The second thing that we ought to remember this year is that we as a church have higher priorities than politics. I think one of the things that we have seen this year is the way that politics has become a sense of transcendent identity for people across the spectrum from the left to the right in ways in which sometimes our political disagreements are more about heresy and ex-communication than they are about politics. We, though, as Christians, understand that politics is important, the decisions that we make as a country are important but not as important as the gospel of Jesus Christ, not as important as the church of Jesus Christ.
We, after all, are only temporarily citizens of this republic, the kingdom of God outlasts Mt. Rushmore and outlasts the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and outlasts the United States of America, so we should be thankful for the blessings that we have as Americans. We should be involved and engaged as much as we can as American citizens but always as those who are not first Americans, we are first citizens of the New Jerusalem, we are first those who are brothers and sisters in Christ and heirs of the kingdom of Jesus. That means that we are not going to be utopian, we are not going to think that any election solves our problems, that any election is going to be able to have any permanent solution to anything, regardless of the outcome and we are also not going to be the people who are panicked and fearful because, no matter what happens in the culture around us, no matter what happens in the government around us, we are victors in Jesus Christ and, as a matter of fact, the Bible tells us we are more than conquers through Jesus Christ.
So we ought to be the people, whatever it is that we face in the years to come, whether those things are good and hopeful or whether those things are not so good and not so hopeful, we ought to be the people who are confident, we ought to be the people who are joyful, we ought to be the people who are modeling to the outside world what it means to be a reconciled community where there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile, black nor white, but all in the Christ where Jesus Christ is all and in all, and in that we have a message that can say to a world that often is in a kind of Darwinian struggle with one another for who’s going to be first, who’s going to be second, and say we serve a different kind of kingdom, we are strangers in this world. We serve a kingdom where the first will be last and the last will be first and where the meek will inherit the earth and where power comes through one who is crucified in weakness and yet lives by the power of God.
That ought to give us confidence, that ought to give us engagement, and that ought to give us peace, joy, love, righteousness, gentleness, patience, and self control. So let’s go forward with that kind of hope and that kind of faith and that kind of love. Let’s pray for President Trump onward.