The Christian Left and Right in America must unite
Dear Christian, if you love Trump, let him go
Rebuke and ex-communication are seen as negatives in Christian life. God designed them to be tools to build up the Church and honor his name. This is my plea to the Christian right.
God uses prominent officials and statesmen to carry out his redemptive history regardless of individual goodness or injustice. God hardened the heart of Pharoah, to show Egypt, that there was a mighty God coming to free his people. God gave Nehemiah favor with King Artaxerxes to restore the political and spiritual condition of the nation of Israel.
While God uses presidents, kings, and dictators to carry out his redemptive history, he also uses redemptive history to reach the hearts of our leaders. God sent the plagues upon Egypt so that the Pharoah’s hardened heart would look beyond the economic benefits of slavery and at last acknowledge that there was a God fighting for Israel. God sent the Israelites into exile so that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego could be instruments in turning the prideful heart of Nebuchadnezzar into a heart that worships the true king.
God is always moving in the hearts of the rich and poor, the lame and powerful. Nothing is an accident and we only need eyes to see the things that God sees.
In post-Biblical times, we are not too sure what God has in store for the followers of Jesus. COVID-19 has medically and politically shaken the globe, forcing believers and unbelievers alike to reevaluate what is important to them. The economic effects have already caused much hurt and protests have swept the United States in a dramatic fashion.
Because God has given us his word in the form of the Bible, we know that calamities, war, strife, sickness, are all part of the birth pains until Jesus returns. Until then, God calls his people into a personal relationship and communion with him. He wants us not to grow out of our situations but to seek his face within our situations.
Donald J. Trump is not excluded from any of this. If anything, God uses all forms of political turmoil and national hurt to challenge the president. God wants Trump to grow as a leader but also spiritually. God does not want Trump to simply weather through these crises and lead in such a way that is righteous (God definitely wants that), but God wants Trump to acknowledge the Almighty and know that the fate of his family and the country is in the hands of the God who created the universe.
Are we as US citizens, who claim to be followers of Jesus, acting in a way that is honoring to God and helpful to the spiritual condition of Trump? Republicans tend to be blanketly approving of Trump’s decisions and behavior. Democrats and everyone else in between are hyper-critical of Trump.
Full disclosure: I am a Democrat. Regardless, I am a follower of Jesus that has observed that Christians in both parties have dishonored Christ in our politics. Let me explain.
The Christian left deserves to be criticized for fundamentally disregarding the call from the word of God to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13) and to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2). We have been atrocious at it. At the end of time, my friends on the left will be called to give an account for every careless word spoken about the president.
Criticism is overdue for the left but I specifically want to challenge those on the Christian right. While hyper-criticality breeds hatred and toxicity, I believe that blanket approval from the right breeds something nefarious, not policywise or politically, but spiritually, in the heart of Trump.
I have no desire to debate my brothers and sister on the right about policy or economics. That is a discussion for another time. I want to talk about how Christian politicians and Christian Trump supporters are silent when Trump behaves in a manner that is truly not worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27) and rarely rebuke their leader who calls himself a follower of Jesus.
While the list is extensive and up for debate, his most recent use of law enforcement for the forceful removal of lawful peaceful protestors to clear a path to a church that he would use alongside the Bible as props for a photo op is nothing short of dishonorable and is antithetical to what Jesus would do.
As Christians, we are called to lift one another up in truth and love. We are called to remove the logs from our own eyes before removing the speck in our brother’s. However, we are also called to confrontation. We are called to be the Nathan to the Davids in our lives who would rebuke the king for acts against God. We are called to be as iron sharpen irons. We are called to violently throw out the merchants that would so dare to desecrate the temple of God. We are called to command Satan to get behind us even if Satan comes through the voice of a friend.
This is the doctrine of rebuke. Calling out our fellow Christians when they step out of line. This is for the sake of the purity of the body of Christ but it is also for the building up of believers. We correct one another so that glory to glory, we are renewed moment by moment in a spirit of repentance and worship. When we see the depths of our sin and how prone we are to fail, we lift our eyes to the cross to see the price that was paid on Calvary knowing that we are sealed as Children of God. We can worship God and acknowledge that he is more holy and set apart than we could ever imagine.
To deprive our fellow believers of this blessing is a sin of omission. The people that hate you the most will not tell you how terrible you are, they ignore you. The people who love you the most do not ignore your faults and refuse confrontation. They embrace confrontation because they love you.
The same idea applies to the Christian right. If Donald Trump calls himself a follower of Jesus, we must hold him to a higher standard. Even more than voting, more than coming out to rallies, this is the most loving thing we can do for him. The Church wins and Trump is closer to communion with God.
Purity is important in of itself but it is also the only validity for any calls to evangelism. The world rejects Christ not because Jesus is so bad but because his followers are textbook hypocrites. When the most high profile Christian alive today is seen by the world as morally repugnant, even besides issues of policy or stances on identity politics, the world scoffs and it is a no brainer why they would want to reject Christ.
The remedy would be for Trump to change his behavior or for the church to unanimously condemn his actions. The world must know that certain people by no means represent Christ. The left half of the church has already done that. The right must follow suit.
To be clear, this is not a call to elect Biden, or to say that Hillary should have been elected. This is not even a call to not vote for Trump. This is a call for the left and right Church to unite in condemnation of Trump’s actions and to react in one of two ways.
- If Trump repents and acknowledges that he has not been bearing the image of Christ in a matter worthy of the gospel, we continue with our lives and build up the church.
- If Trump continues to refuse to repent, the Church must insist that Trump stop calling himself a Christian and we treat him like an unbeliever. Excommunication.
Some may be wondering why Trump must be so public in his repentance. The reason is that the audience to his sin is so vast and on a global scale. Also, consider Matthew 18:15–17. Sin is dealt with initially on a one-on-one basis. If the offender refuses to listen, bring more people to confront them. Lastly, bring it to the whole church. If they still won’t listen, excommunicate them. This isn’t my opinion, this is Jesus’ opinion. These rules would apply to an unrepentant pastor who committed a public sin and it applies to you and me.
Some may wonder what good is it to excommunicate Trump? In the present, Trump has aides and advisors and national leaders who are Christian that continue to offer their fellowship and company to the president. They support his political agenda and offer spiritual guidance. He is acknowledged as a fellow believer by some in Congress.
By excommunicating the president, we get an effect similar to 1 Corinthians 5:5. Trump is delivered over to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
I am not in the business of guessing whether or not Trump is a Christian. However, when a person is handed over to Satan, they live a life apart from God and apart from the body of believers. They will either realize that life without Christ is so miserable that they become like a prodigal son returning to the father, being restored and their faith strengthened like never before. Or, they continue in their behavior where they have actively chosen flesh over the righteousness of God. They get to realize that maybe they were never Christian in the first place, which is the first step to becoming a believer. It is important to be sure as Jesus warns us that the branches that bear no fruit will be cut off from the tree. Better is it to be grafted in later than to be burned at the end of time.
But what if Trump is remorseful in private and chooses not to publicly repent? Maybe he needs to never apologize in public? Most people don’t. Let me remind you that Trump has admitted having never asked God for forgiveness. There are many theological schools of thought regarding what it means to accept Jesus but the Bible is clear that personal repentance is a fundamental doctrine of salvation and for having communion with God. With no acknowledgment of sin, Jesus quite literally died for nothing.
I hope that Christians see that the unified rebuke of Trump’s actions is not only good for the church but is good for Trump’s soul. He is man fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. At the very least, I hope that those on the left and the right would make a concerted effort to pray for the president and his family. Donald Trump Jr. recently-ish got divorced, Baron must deal with the angst of his teenage years, Tiffany just graduated from law school. Who knows how all of these things and more are affecting the family all while Trump Sr. is the subject to mass ridicule and hate.
This is the worst season of Trump’s presidency to date. On top of COVID, the economy, and protests, his rally in Tulsa turned out to be underwhelming and disheartening for many reasons. Instead of turning to things of this world, I pray that Trump would turn to the Psalms of David and question the downcastness of his soul and always hope in God.
Similar things could be argued to apply to Bush, Clinton, or Obama. That is a discussion for another day. May our character become like that of Daniel, steadfast to endure persecutions. May our anger be righteous as the tribes of Israel made war against the tribe of Benjamin in the book of Judges. May we be braver than Joshua as we know that the King of Kings is fighting our battles. May we be wiser than Solomon so that the nations stand in awe of our God.