Donald Trump has won the election and will be the 45th president of the United States. His victory culminates one of the most divided election cycles in recent history, with two of the least liked candidates we have seen secure their party's nomination. Trump's unfavorable rating was at about 58% going into election day and Hillary Clinton's was in the same ballpark. Suffice it to say, Trump will take office with more than half the country unhappy about him being their president.
It is very possible you are one of the people who is less than excited about who will soon take over the presidency. You may not only be disappointed, but even in despair. Let me encourage you, all is not lost. A year ago, I wrote that this is election is important, but it isn't "that important." Those words remain true, even today. Even in the wake of our most recent election.
Or you might be thoroughly excited about Trump winning the presidency. You might believe that he is exactly what the country needs right now. And I pray that is true. I was one of the #nevertrump advocates. I was not unwilling to express that opinion, although I was not overly vocal. I have concerns about his character, his competence and some of the cultural threads he was willing to pull in order to motivate his base. I have been told that he is growing - that he has surrounded himself with good and wise people, who will have his ear, who will advise and constrain him when needed.
I hope this is true. I am hopeful that he will rise to the office, and take on a tenor of humility that unifies rather than arrogance which divides. I am hopeful that he will fight for the sanctity of life. I am hopeful that he will be honorable and fight for a peaceful nation. I am hopeful. But I must admit, I am also a bit fearful. I am concerned that some of what has characterized his campaign will be seen in his presidency - a short temper, crude demeanor, disrespect for others, racist overtones and more. I am uneasy about what his victory will mean for the perpetuation of lust for political power among evangelicals, especially white evangelicals.
I am genuinely torn. Because I am hopeful that he will lead well. But I am also fearful that he will not. Let me be clear, I was also not excited about the prospect of a Clinton presidency - I could not, in good conscience, vote for either of them. I had actually started this post before the election, and based on all the "experts," I fully expected it would be her victory to which I was responding. Much of the sentiments have remained the same, but with a few differences.
So, I have been asking myself, what are we to do? What now? I want to encourage you with four important ways God calls us to respond.
Pray for him
In the midst of a highly unfavorable political situation, Paul penned one of his letters to Timothy, which we know today as 1 Timothy. Paul was writing to instruct Timothy on how to lead the church in Ephesus. In this short letter, we read about many practical ways the church is called to live and function. After some introductory and general remarks, Paul begins with some very straight forward instruction at the beginning of the second chapter. And what are the first words he writes?
He urges "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim 2:1)."
Then Paul gets specific. He tells Timothy, and the church in Ephesus, to pray for "kings and all who are in high positions (1 Tim 2:2)."
Do you know who was the emperor of Rome at this time? Nero. He was a nasty dude. Historically, he has a reputation as one of the first and worst persecutors of Christians. And there were likely no Christians in any high political positions at that time. Yet, Paul calls the church to pray for their political leaders. You may love Donald Trump. Or you may not like him at all, but you would be hard-pressed to make an argument that Trump is worse than Nero, or even in the same category. He isn't.
If God called the early church to pray for Nero, we must also take up that command and pray for our leaders. No matter how you feel about Donald Trump being our president, are you going to pray for him? God calls us to pray for him. If you are asking, what now? Pray.
As Christians, we are called to honor and respect the ruling authorities which God appoints. "For there is no authority except from God, and those who exist have been instituted by God (Rom 13:1)." Governments are not perfect, and they do not always do what is right and good. But God instituted them to be a terror to bad conduct, not good (Rom 13:3). God is in charge.
God calls us to honor our ruling authorities (Rom 13:7). This is different than silently watching as our government promotes and approves evil. We are not called to be silent and sit idol. We are called to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, whether that be the unborn or underprivileged. We are called to speak for babies in the womb, immigrants in our cities, infants in our homes, elderly in our communities, and anyone else who has a hard time speaking for themselves. We are called to advocate for what is good and right.
But we are called to do it with honor. Do you honor Donald Trump in the way you speak about him? If you are wondering, what now? How do we respond? Honor him as our future president.
Seek the good of the city [nation]
As Jeremiah (and the rest of God's people) are being hauled off to exile in Babylon, God gives them a command that is not intuitive. God says, "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7)." Like Jeremiah, we are called to seek the good of our city and nation. Not in a nationalistic way. We are not nation-building. This isn't about power.
We are called to be agents of good in the cities, states, nations and world in which we live. God wants us to care about the communities in which we reside - no matter who our elected officials are, whether you like your president or not. So, if you are wondering, now what? Seek the good of your city. Invest yourself into your community and work for its good.
Have perspective; have hope
In the end, we must always remember who is on the throne. The world has existed for a long time, and our young nation has played a small part in world history. Trump was elected to a four-year term. That is but a vapor in the history of the world, and less when compared to eternity. God remains on the throne, and He will still be there when Trump's term is over. Unless Christ returns first, the sun will rise tomorrow, as it always does. The world will not stop spinning.
Whether you like Trump or not, we need to have perspective. He is not our savior. He cannot fix all your problems. Don't put your trust in him or your government. He is also not pure evil, as some want to suggest. He is but a man. He cannot do anything God does not allow. Just as God used the Babylonian ruler, Cyrus, nearly 3,000 years ago to "subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings (Isaiah 45:1)," Trump cannot do that which God does not allow. God's mission will still be accomplished. He is still on the throne. One day, God will set all things right in the world. He will wipe away all tears. As Sam asked Gandalf, "Is everything sad going to come untrue?" Our God's answer is, "yes, but not yet... someday soon. Be ready." Trump has not changed that plan.
So while we are here on this earth - let's have perspective and let's have hope. Pray for president-elect Donald Trump. Honor president-elect Donald Trump. Seek the good of our cities and nation. And have hope.