Writing about love in this age of “Trumpillary” would be like writing about the comforts of heaven while sitting amidst the fiery flames of hell.
The negativity and bitterness, the shouting and coarse language, the empty rhetoric and rancorous debate — these things have so much dominated the news cycle that one would almost be forced to conclude that this is just how “normal” people behave in this neo-Judges age when “every man and woman does what’s right in his/her eyes.”
But that conclusion would be wrong. This is not “normal.” We shouldn’t let this display of carnality and immaturity be the standard bearer of what we used to call “civil discourse.” Go ahead and say it: It is NOT okay to ascend to power by lying, cheating and trying to completely annihilate your opponent. The “take no prisoners” philosophy should have no room in the fabric of this country we love so much.
But when it comes to the individual souls, it is a different story. Our main duty as followers of Christ is to pray faithfully for Hillary, Trump and others like them.
Last night I heard Hillary say that in order to be saved you need both faith and good works. Wrong… She needs to understand “salvation by grace through faith.” A while back Trump said he didn’t need to ask God for forgiveness because he doesn’t make mistakes. Wrong… He needs to understand the meaning of “in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Many of Hillary’s and Trump’s positions simply outrage me, but as a follower of Christ I have no right to personally lash out against these two individuals. I have a duty to pray for them and ask God to transform their hearts so they can think and act like Jesus some day. And in that sense, my heart is so filled with love and compassion for them that it brings me to the point of tears. Yes, when did you cry last for the souls of people like Donald and Hillary?
Let me illustrate. There is nothing that comes even close to provoking more outrage in me than the issue of protecting the life of the unborn. When I hear Hillary talk about it, that’s the only time I would be tempted to smash my T.V. to pieces, if my wife would let me… And yet, even at that moment when something so raw wants to come out of me and do damage, I look at the human being making that statement and am filled with compassion for her — she’s been blinded and she needs to see the light. I have tears for the millions of little ones vanished by violence and I have tears for the millions of grownups who will appear before God one day and give an account for their actions. May God have mercy on them!
But remember: We too will give an account to God some day. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He didn’t give us an exception clause that would apply to certain people, like former Cleveland Brown’s owner Art Modell, for example!
Now, obviously, that doesn’t necessarily mean I will become best friends with these two. Neither does it mean that I have to agree with all or any of their ideas and policies. Quite the contrary; I must remain vigilant and speak out against ideas that are contrary to God’s standards, but I must be careful that in the process of doing it I don’t act uncharitably toward them or their supporters and thus become just like them. We are not called to hate, we are called to love. We must find a way to love even people like these two. And if I need to be convinced of that, all I have to do is to look at myself in the mirror and repeat after me: “God loved ME!!”
The only time that it would be okay not to love those who disagree with me and behave radically differently from me would be the time that God would cease to love me. But that, I know, is not going to happen, so I might as well start learning to love the unlovable. God did it with me. But this is only possible by divine enabling. We can’t do it on our own power.
Looking at the foot of the cross, Jesus saw his tormentors and forgave them. Lifting his eyes unto heaven, as the first stone hit his body, Stephen followed in Jesus’ footsteps and forgave the stone throwers. He also prayed for them. That was and is supposed to be the norm for the disciple of Christ, not the exception.
While we lament the loss of civil discourse and dread having to walk into the polling place with our hearts torn by the choices afforded us, one thing we must not do — we must not let bitterness steal the joy we have in Christ and we must never forget that the sovereign God is still large and in charge.
Let’s look to our standard bearer, the One who, according to Matthew, “… causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
And let’s remember that all of us, without exception, also had to be forgiven of something that would be enough to send us to hell. Come to think of it, my need for forgiveness does tend to emerge, like daily. Thank God for the reconciliation and restoration He provides us in Christ!
Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA