I've been asking the wrong question.
For two years, I've been asking Trump Christians, “How do you defend him spiritually?” Yes, you have your political reasons (my politics led me to vote third party) but those are temporary, earthly. I want to hear your big picture reasons. I want to know how you voluntarily give leadership to someone who:
Why is domestic political dominance more important than our witness as a worldwide church? How do we, as members of the global church, justify defending someone whose agenda is in direct contrast to our own?
Of course, I'm never getting an answer to these because these questions end with accusations that I am attacking the Trump person personally. That baffles me because I genuinely want to know their theology behind standing up for this guy, and I use much gentler language with them than I did here, trying to get to a thoughtful response. No one -- not one Christian Trump supporter in two years – could go deep on this subject without getting defensive and ultimately hostile, no matter how kind or peaceful my approach. I finally figured out why.
Basically, I was telling them they had an idol. I didn't mean to, honestly, but there it was. My questions implied that they were putting their own political agenda ahead of God's agenda of reaching the world. Jesus sums up the whole Bible with “Love God; love each other,” and how can we do that if our political identity requires making enemies of all these people we're supposed to love? Without saying it, I was communicating that “America First” does not serve the Great Commission OR the Great Commandment.
So what's a better question?
How about – why did God allow Trump to be president? Again, no political answers. We know no leader is in charge without God's consent, and we know God allowed Israel to suffer some foolish kings. So why Trump? You may have your reason but here's mine:
For every person or group dehumanized by the president, an outpouring of support swells around them and lifts up their cause. The harsh tones of belittlement are like a plow that brings fresh soil to the surface. I think of that verse in Hosea, “Break up your fallow ground.” These voices have been silenced by powerful people and broken systems but now are being heard. In the words of Joseph, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
I hope many lives are saved as a result of this season we are in, no matter how long it turns out to be. I hope one of those lives is the president himself. I pray for the people around him to affect him. The media keeps saying there's no changing a man of his age, but we all know the softener of hearts.
Our part right now is to actually do something in response. Not just be outraged (I'm guilty) but be part of something, somewhere, that is meeting the needs of the powerless, and giving voice to the poor and oppressed. Something that brings healing. Something eternal.
That's my answer. What's yours?
Update 10-17-2017: clarification to Trump Christians