It was 10 weeks ago that I sat in front of my television a little after midnight, barely able to keep my eyes open, wondering whether Donald Trump was really going to be the 45th President of the United States of America. I use the term “really” as one of shock based on my sole familiarity with Donald Trump being through his appearances on reality shows and WWE programming, not because I know how he will lead in the future or that I am willing to judge him based on the obvious missteps of his past. Because lets be honest, we all have faults from our past and wont lead our families, our business, our churches, or our own careers perfectly in the future either.
Having just entered my 30’s, I remember this election and all of its various details far more than I have any one prior. But what has stood out to me more than anything is the amount of hate that has been lobbed between Republicans and Democrats throughout the entirety of this political process. I suppose this hate is the product of debates that feel more like wrestling promos, elections that feel more like cage fights, and the unfortunate reality of only having two primary parties represented more often than not.
This has led to many Democrats refusing to attend the inauguration, peaceful protests occupying many cities across our country, and millions of people using their social media accounts to bash the man who will step into office this Friday.
But maybe what has been even more disappointing than all of this has been the amount of Christians that I have witnessed bashing Donald Trump who, whether you like it or not, will actually be “your” President in just a couple of days. I am by no means bashing President-Elect Trump, but this is where we are as a country. This is going to be our countries leader. And roughly 60% of our country isn’t excited about it and seemingly wants him to fail.
And as I was reminded today, wanting Trump to fail is like passengers on a plane who hope the pilot doesn’t know how to fly. And sadly enough, this is how most people are choosing to function. However, as believers we cannot choose to be so irresponsible with our feelings and thoughts. Our love for God has to be more important than our feelings about Donald Trump having an Oval Office.
Which raises a few good questions: What we can you do with your worry? And how can you choose to love a President that you want to hate? And I think it begins with actually looking at how Jesus interacted with the government during his life. A government that was far more corrupt than anything most Americans will ever experience here in the “land of the free” and “the home of the brave.” It begins with leaning away from our political preference and into our allegiance to Christ.
One of the incredible stories about the way that Christ chose to interact and respect the government is found in chapter 22 of the book of Matthew. The story goes that some of the Pharisees were looking to bait Jesus into disrespecting the government, which by the way was considered a crime in that day and age. The Pharisees even brought along supporters of King Herod as witnesses of what would surely be Jesus of Nazareth slamming Caesar. The Pharisees approached Jesus and said:
“We know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Which is a prime opportunity for Jesus to throw Caesar under the bus. However he responds rather bluntly:
“You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” 22 His reply amazed them, and they went away.
The fact that the Pharisees walked away amazed is worth noting here. The Pharisees were experts of the law, and as experts Jesus doesn’t share any information that really amazes them. Everyone knew in this day and age you were supposed to pay your taxes, nothing really mind blowing about dropping that knowledge on the Pharisees. What I think amazed them is that Jesus refused to stoop to their level.
When given a golden opportunity to disrespect Caesar, to disrespect a political figure, a political authority, or the government, Christ flat out refuses to, because that is not who he is and that is not what his mission is about. And that itself is enough to amaze people. And I still think that you and I have the opportunity to amaze people when we as Christians choose to act like Christ.
And I don’t have to tell you that it is so easy to blast the President these days. You just click a few buttons to do so, but that is what everyone does. What if Christians didn’t act like everyone else? And I know, I have heard many people defend their disrespect over the past year by saying “freedom of speech gives me the right to”. But let me tell you our freedom of speech does not mean we have the right to drag down people God desires to raise up. Even if it is Donald Trump.
Jesus absolutely refused to be disrespectful, even if it were justified. And I cannot imagine the influence we would have if we were willing to do the same. Which is why later the Apostle Paul would write a letter to Titus and say:
3 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
Even when the Government doesn’t live up to its expectations of its citizens, we are still called to live up to our obedience to Christ.
Which is why I think Jesus pointed us to one of the most effective ways to live up to our obedience to him and that is through praying, even for the government, even for President Trump. And you might be thinking, where in the Bible does Jesus tell his followers to pray for the government? Well check this out, in Jesus famous sermon, titled the Sermon on the Mount, he says:
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
At this point in time, guess who had the authority to persecute the believers? The Government. But just what kind of people would pray for their government? Jesus goes on to say:
45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven…
Jesus is telling his followers in this day and age to pray for their government, because that is how children of God, citizens of Heaven will act.
When you routinely take the time to pray for someone you dislike or hate, even Donald Trump, your heart will gradually start to soften towards them as your are influencing them in the best way possible. As you pray it becomes easier and easier to not disrespect someone that you are spiritually cheering for. And as you pray for someone it will naturally allow you to stay focused on the eternal mission despite what may feel like temporary madness.
Prayer is the key that changes everything, including our own hearts.
And let me wrap-up with Paul’s words to a younger Timothy:
2 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior.
And so with a big week ahead for our country, wouldn’t it be something if we took some time to pray for President Trump, his staff, our government, and our country?
Because if what we read is true, that this is good and pleases God, then how can we not?
Choose to be different this Friday. Choose to amaze people.
Peace and Blessing,