Christianity Today published an editorial by Timothy Dalrymple on July 19, 2019 entitled “On Court Prophets and Wilderness Prophets.” It was a refreshing, Christian appeal to publicly condemn unrighteous behavior and language by our leaders, including President Trump. It was a plea for Christians to put their faith first; to recall that we answer to a “higher authority” than any political party; to reason with one another in the political arena “passionately and charitably”; and, to “seek to understand as much as we seek to be understood.”
Whether individual Christians are supporters or non-supporters of President Trump or his political agenda, it is every Christian’s responsibility to speak out against acts, behavior, and language by President Trump — and any political leader here or abroad — that are inconsistent with the teachings of Christ to love each other and to treat others as we would want them to treat us. It is not enough that we only speak out against acts or behavior that adversely affect us or the people we love. Our compassion must extend to all, regardless of age, race, nationality, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital status, wealth, employment status, or political affiliation. A rule of thumb is if we wouldn’t treat Christ a certain way if He were standing before us, we shouldn’t treat anyone that way; if we would defend Christ against verbal or physical attacks that we might witness against Him were He among us, we should likewise defend others (as we would come to Christ’s defense). As Christians, our words and behavior towards others should not be influenced by whether someone is our ally, friend, enemy, or a stranger — nor whether someone is appreciative, ungrateful or deserving.
“Do you think you deserve credit for merely loving those who love you? Even the godless do that! And if you do good only to those who do you good — is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much!… Love your enemies! Do good to them!… Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as sons of God: for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are very wicked. Try to show as much compassion as your Father does.” Luke 6:32-36
I’ve watched in silence and disappointment as President Trump and members of all political parties have acted, bullied, and otherwise engaged in speech and behavior that is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. I dislike dysfunctional politics, political drama, and the divide it creates among people and nations.
I’ve watched from a comfortable distance as a beneficiary of the politically elite. I’ve remained silent due in part to disbelief, but also because I’ve been intimidated by the emotionally-charged, hostile, and unpredictable political environment of today. But my conscience has not been quiet. It disrupts my sleep and contributes to growing unease. It’s time I speak out. Both the Bible and history teaches us that remaining silent in the face of unjust or unrighteous behavior is the equivalent of condoning it. To privately condemn unrighteous attacks on others is not enough. The Bible teaches that Christians must lend their voice and support to people in need, including those who are unpopular, who cannot defend themselves, and those who are politically disfavored.
“Dear Brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, ‘Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,’ and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all — it is dead and useless… Are there still some among you who hold that ‘only believing’ is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too — so strongly that they tremble in terror. Fool! When will you learn that ‘believing’ is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.” James 2:14-20
As Christians, we are called to insist that our political representatives, including President Trump, be respectful of others and of the diversity in citizenry they have sworn to represent. As Christians, we are called by Christ to look beyond the physical boundaries we have created on earth; Christ reminds us that we ultimately serve a higher power.
With respect to recent racially-oriented remarks from the White House, the Christianity Today article mentioned above concludes, “If white Christians wish to stand on the bridge with brothers and sisters of other colors and backgrounds, they need to stand with them first in the foxhole. We should all stand so close that attacks on ‘them’ are attacks on ‘us,’ until there is no longer a distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’ remaining. If we abandon our sister in the foxhole, we cannot expect her to attend our potluck. So let us not be silent. We are not captive to political party. We are accountable to a higher authority. We expect better of our leaders, and we stand in the foxholes with our brothers and sisters when they are taking fire. We hope court prophets and wilderness prophets alike, and Christians of all political persuasions, will speak the truth and stand with those who suffer unjustly.”
Because faith in God and Christ — without action — ain’t no faith at all.
Image by Chip Somodevilla, Image may be subject to copyright