Let’s join together and ask God to give our president peace and wisdom as he governs the affairs of our nation. Let’s ask God to bless his family. Let’s ask God for his presence to be made known in our president’s life.
Donald Trump will be the new president of the United States of America. What now?
I, like many others (on both the right and the left) were completely surprised that he won. I know people on both sides of the aisle that didn’t think it was possible for him to win, yet here we are!
So, what to do? What’s the next step? What’s the next move? I believe there are a few things that you and I can do to respond to this new season that is upon is.
Before I get to that, let me give you a reference point for what I will say. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, read a blog post, or heard a sermon or podcast where the speaker/author shares a “perspective” with you, without sharing their point of view? But, when you read or listen to it, you know based off of how they’re writing or speaking what they’re really trying to say? They attempt to covertly bring you over to their side without telling you straight out.
Yeah…that is not what I want to do here today. My goal is to speak to everyone, challenging all of us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s kind of like the movie Shutter Island. Is Leonardo DiCaprio’s character really a U.S. marshal, or is he actually insane? When I spoke to friends about the movie, I loved playing the “devil’s advocate”, challenging their assumptions no matter which side they fell on. I’d like to do the same today. Let’s get started!
Wisely engage your emotions. If you are happy that Trump won, then celebrate! If you are grieving about Clinton’s loss, then mourn! There is nothing wrong with what you feel. But please, for the sake of your friends, family (especially children), followers on Facebook or Twitter, etc. engage your emotions wisely. Only you can determine what wisdom looks like in the context of your emotional state. If you’re celebrating, don’t blame others for mourning. If you’re mourning, don’t blame others for celebrating.
I have my feelings, but most would not know them on Facebook, partly because I don’t even know how to express them properly in a way that everyone would understand…so I have chosen to engage my emotions a little more privately. If airing them in a public manner is helpful to you and others, then do that as well! I’m in no way creating rules here…just inviting you to exercise wisdom in your response.
Exercise EMPATHY over JUDGMENT. This one is huge. In fact, I may write a separate post just about this one. Between last night and this morning, I have been reading hundreds of people’s comments on Facebook and other locations. I am discouraged to see so many people ascribe motives to another person for their vote. That is judgment, nothing more and nothing less. It especially saddens me to see Clinton supporters think of all Trump supporters as racists, or to see Trump supporters think of all Clinton supporters as baby killers (abortion).
Listen my friends, there is only one person who knows the heart of man, and that is God himself. Second to that, we cannot begin to understand a person’s feelings unless we actually know the person. When we choose empathy, we choose to step into the other person’s shoes. I believe that most people voted out of fear during this election cycle. Those who supported Trump were afraid of losing jobs, losing the Supreme Court, etc. Those who supported Clinton were/are afraid that Trump’s election will bring about waves of discrimination against different minority (ethnic, social, etc.) groups. When we step into someone else’s shoes, we begin to know them for who they truly are, which increases our ability to engage them and love them. Choose to step into someone else’s shoes and see what you learn.
Pray. Did God place Trump as president? Was it up to the free will of the people who voted? Different Christians have different theological viewpoints on how man’s free will and God’s sovereignty plays out. I happen to think there is a combination of both at work. Either way, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 states, “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,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”
I get three important things from this call to pray. First, when we pray for Trump, for our nation, for Democrats and for Republicans (and all others), the end result may be peace! Second, this is pleasing to God. And last, there seems to be a direct relationship between people coming to salvation and our decision to pray. Being driven by our desperation, by our fear, or even by our victories can easily jeopardize an opportunity for someone to come to faith in Christ through our example.
Hope. God’s kingdom is eternal. The reigns of Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc. are not! Even the worst dictator has an end to his reign. We place our hope, not in a political system, but in a savior who came to bring his life to the entire world.
If your hope was placed in Clinton, it was in the wrong place. If your hope was (and still is) placed in Trump, your hope is in the wrong place. The end has not arrived, and when it does, Jesus will be right there in the middle of it. Let’s choose to place our trust in the one who has the ultimate say about how all of this will play out in the end.
And lastly, come to church on Sunday. We are followers of Jesus first of all. Regardless of where we land in politics, we are brothers and sisters, part of a great family. We need each other at a moment like this.
If you’re in the L.A. area, you’re welcome to join us! citylifela.org
This is quite possibly the craziest political season that our country has ever experienced, at least in modern memory. Voters all over the country are getting ready to vote into office one of two people who are dishonest, potentially (or completely) crooked, and who have used their connections or resources (whether political, financial, or both) for their own personal benefit. So, who will get your vote?
Now, stick with me here…I’ve got a lot to say! My goal today is to share with you a perspective on how you should process your vote, not necessarily who you should vote for.
I have typically refrained from giving specific commentary on this blog about specific issues or candidates. As a pastor, there is one principal reason why I do this. I desire to be the pastor of everyone who is a part of my church (whether they attend my church in person or watch online). There are so many political beliefs out there, and I never want my personal beliefs to be an obstacle to my most important belief: Jesus Christ!
Faith in Jesus Christ has survived (and thrived) in every political system and has crossed every cultural, ethnic, and national boundary. Jesus is universal! I never want a subset of political beliefs, even if they are rooted in faith, to be an obstacle to my most important belief…my belief in Jesus. I get frustrated when political figures try to attach Jesus to their political philosophy, to somehow convince everyone that Jesus is on their side.
Now, that being said, let me be clear about something: while I have very specific political beliefs, I am not a partisan. You know who the partisans are. They are those “friends” on Facebook (or elsewhere) who never listen to reason, blindly follow, and vote the party line above all else. Some of them resort to name calling. Their opinion can’t be changed because they have an emotional attachment to their opinion, which can’t be changed with logic. These people exist on the right and the left in American politics. Some are Democrats. Others are Republicans. Others are Libertarians, or Green Party, or other political parties.
Partisan is not a word that I use to describe myself. I am not beholden to a certain group, person, or political party. I happen to be registered with one, but I don’t blindly follow. I study positions and am willing to change if I believe it more closely reflects my values. In practice, I am probably more of an independent. There is a set of values that I hold dear. These values are informed by my faith in Jesus. I vote according to those values, looking at all the candidates that might potentially be the best fit for the values I have. I hold my values strongly, but my opinions loosely, choosing to see if there might be other truth out there that I might have missed.
With all of that said, I have been thinking through who I will vote for. But, more than that, I have been thinking about what’s going on underneath the political scene. What are the currents of belief that influence this election? What are people actually looking for when voting for a specific candidate? What should we look for when voting for a particular candidate? Can you still be a good citizen if you choose to vote for neither candidate (talking about Trump and Clinton here)? If you go for a third party candidate (like Stein, Johnson, or McMullin) is that throwing away your vote?
What I’d like to do is simply invite you to think through a few things that might form how you think about who to vote for.
First, your vote needs to be earned.
Your vote does not belong to a political party, whether you are registered with them or not. While your vote needs to be given (or potentially withheld purposefully), it does not need to be given freely. The candidate needs to prove their worthiness for the office that they seek. Simply saying that you might vote for thelesser of two evils requires nothing of the candidate to earn your vote. It’s ok to have expectations of the candidates and to vote accordingly.
Second, you must view your vote as having weight in two important areas: policy and culture.
Let me expand on this a bit. The human body needs two things to function: systems and blood flow. The systems of the body include systems like the circulatory, muscular, nervous, and others. But, even if every system is in perfect working condition, if there is no flow of blood, there is no life. In fact, you can live life without complete use of all your systems…but if there is no flow of blood, you’re dead!
Put simply, the blood is the life of the body, and the systems carry the life of the body.
I view the country in a similar way.
Policies = systems. Culture = blood flow.
Most people tend to view their vote only in the context of policy. They ask questions like: Does this candidate believe what I believe? Will this candidate enact the policies that I believe will benefit this country? Etc.
Those are good questions to ask. But they are not the only questions.
The questions of culture have to do with how our society functions, responds, and interacts, regardless of the policies that exist. Questions for this might be like: Does this candidate behave how I want them to behave? Does this candidate represent the character that this nation should have?
The relationship between policies and culture is symbiotic.
This means that they both influence each other. But, this leads me to my third point, which happens to be personal opinion.
Third, CULTURE trumps (no pun intended) POLICY every day of the week.
I believe who we are as a nation is quite possibly more important than what we do as a nation. Now, some of you might disagree. That’s ok! You might think that policy trumps culture. Or, you might believe that they are equally important. I can respect those viewpoints. All I ask of you is to take them into account in order to make your decision.
And, this is what makes it so hard. If you believe that culture trumps policy, then you might look at both principal candidates as being unfit for office. Or, you might believe one truly does have the character needed to be in office and to move our country in the direction it needs to go. Regardless of which way you go, I encourage you to evaluate the candidates according to this framework.
Fourth (and last), Jesus is above every political system.
The kingdom of God is not a human kingdom. While I love the United States of America, and consider it a privilege to live here, this country is not the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is eternal. His kingdom rests in our hearts, not in a political system.
Now, is it important to vote in the political system so that we might continue to live our faith freely in this country? Absolutely. But let me remind you: some of the greatest countries for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth are also the most restrictive towards exercising faith. Think of China as one example.
I believe politics is downstream of culture. The reason why Christianity might be losing in the political arena is because it’s already losing in the hearts of the population. If we want God’s kingdom to spread in this country, it won’t happen because we get the right leader to be president…it will happen because the Church reaches people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of this, my hope is not in a political system, party, or leader. My hope is in Jesus! Choose to trust in Jesus, regardless of which way our political system goes in the coming years.
So, who will you vote for? Choose to think critically, using the wisdom that God gives, to come to the conclusion that you believe is best.
JeffTolle.org is home to the writings of Pastor Jeff Tolle, a local church pastor in Los Angeles, California. He loves to write about living a life of influence.