For anyone who’s wondered if faith is a lost art in America, wonder no longer -- the past week has shown that people still have a very strong and deeply held sense of conviction and religious fervor in our country. Of course, it’s not a fervor for Jesus Christ, but rather for sociopolitics.
I mean, half of Americans are considering Donald Trump something of a God-send, and are happily glossing over any pesky little details that might deter their religious devotion to him. They’ve declared him to be clearly an Evangelical Christian -- so who needs to see any fruit of the Spirit when you have that kind of faith in a man?
The other half of Americans are reacting like they’re in the middle of a national disaster. They honestly could not believe that Hillary Clinton could possibly lose -- their faith in their political dogma was that unshakeable. So now they perceive Trump as the anti-Christ to Hillary’s Messiah, and they’re preparing themselves for a time of Great Tribulation.
Seriously, it has become the religion of our times. There have been nightly riots across our nation, California is (seriously) considering a vote to secede from the United States, and multiple people have made dramatically public death threats against the President-elect (and not just “fringe” wackos -- the would-be assassins have included CEOs of major corporations).
And on the other side of the fence, let’s be honest here -- I’ve seen far more blogs and posts, and heard far deeper and more energetic discussions among conservative Christians about this election in the past month than I’ve heard them talk about God in the past year (or even the past decade). Before the right wing can cast stones against the left wing (or vice-versa), we all need to be willing to admit that a lot of us Christians have cared a lot more intensely about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than we really have about Jesus Christ. Oh, we love Jesus and all that, but we’ve really been far more energized about this election than we have been about sharing the Gospel with others (or living it out in our attitudes toward others).
The truth is, Jesus and Paul and Peter and others were all pretty clear that we shouldn’t respond to fear and hatred with more fear and hatred. If some Muslims have been terrorists, we shouldn’t then fear all Muslims. If some cops have committed violence wrongly, we shouldn’t then attack good cops in response. If Trump has said some pretty vile things, we shouldn’t then respond with hatred toward what we might perceive as his hatred. If we loved our candidate, we shouldn’t then respond toward the other side with vitriolic words and hateful, spiteful attitudes. We shouldn’t hate Trump’s supporters, as if those who voted for him specifically voted in favor of xenophobia, racism, or fear. We shouldn’t hate Clinton supporters just because they’re currently reacting out of their own fears and shaken faith. We shouldn’t hate gays or Mexicans or Evangelicals or ISIS or liberals or conservatives. We shouldn’t hate people. Period.
Overall, we’ve spent the past year or so as a nation increasingly responding to fear and hatred with more fear and hatred. How’s that been working out for us? Has it decreased the fear and hatred, or has it fed them?
So we should take a firm stand for what we believe, based on the Word of God (if we’ve learned anything from Paul). We should honestly tell one another when we disagree, but with gentleness and respect (if we’ve learned anything from Peter). We should come to the aid of those who are being beaten down, regardless of what side of any given fence they’re from (if we’ve learned anything from the parable of the Good Samaritan). We should be far more devoted to being Christians than we are to being political adversaries.
As ambassadors for Jesus Christ, how you respond -- and the heart with which you respond -- to those around you over the next week will make all of the difference in the world. What you do or don’t do, what you say or don’t say -- and how you do or don’t go about it -- will be a witness to them about what it means to you to be a Christian.
What kind of Christian (what kind of Christ) are you going to show them?