A pastoral predicament began stirring when Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States.
Many Hillary voters began lashing out with severe accusations and condemnation toward Trump and his supporters. Trump voters have been called racists, bigots, homophobes, misogynists, uneducated, and a litany of related slurs.
Conversely, some Trump voters are showing the sensitivity and kindness of a stomach pump and clogging social media with barrage of rage feuled “I told you so’s” and “leave our country now” slogans. All the while they are often seen degrading the humanity of many Clinton supporters as if team Trump sits on a moral high ground.
Yesterday multiple fights broke out at the local High School near my church. The fights were fueled by racist remarks, gloating, and political division amongst our children. My friend’s 7 year old daughter woke up and her heart sank when she heard the news because she thought her hispanic friends were going to be kicked out of the country. Many are protesting, burning flags, rioting, and calling for drastic measures ranging from the preemptive impeachment of Trump to the seceding of CA.
People, our children are watching and they will remember this. They will be shaped and molded in the image of our fear, hate, and division.
More disheartening for me, as a pastor, are the Trump supporters using God and the Bible to justify their voice of condemnation while exalting Trump and conservatism as the savior of the American people [see instead: Jesus].
Love Through The Divide
Remember the woman caught in sexual sin? She was cast before Jesus and he condemned her, right? Wrong! My LGBTQ friends are feeling cast away from many conservative Christians right now. Many are scared and concerned for their future, and wouldn’t dream of setting foot in my suburban Florida church this Sunday. My LGBTQ friends know that I believe marriage was designed by God as a holy institution between man and woman, but they also know that I love them. If someone casts a stone in their direction I will step in gap and take the stone to my head so they can live on. If someone shouts a derogatory slur their way I will shout back in defense. That’s what love does. Love can disagree yet protect. Love can be on the other side of an issue AND on the side of a person’s worth and value. Have we forgotten that all people are made in the image of God? Are we so quick to turn the pages of our Bible that we miss that verse, “Christ died for us WHILE we were yet sinners?” While opposing the way we lived, he died for us. He did not legislate us into obedience. He saved us and sent his Spirit to change us into his likeness.
That’s what Jesus did and continues to do for me everyday. He didn’t tell me how wrong I was for pursuing sex at every turn. He didn’t punish me for my sins. He didn’t shame me for the way I lived and thought. Jesus climbed to the cross and died so I would have a place to hang my sin and my shame as I discover new found freedom and identity in Christ. Only after his love drenched my soul was I able to read his book and learn what it means to love and live for him.
Some might say, “But now we can get this country back to a way that honors God. We can restore marriage to God’s way. We can save unborn children from the horrendous acts of abortion. Doesn’t that mean something?” Yes it does. It means you missed the point of the law. The point of God’s law was to be our guardian until Christ came [Galatians 3]. The law was written to restrain evil among God’s people so they would not perish, to teach us how God wired the world, and to lead us to see our need for a savior. When God himself wrote down laws they did not, and still do not, have the power to change the heart of a person. Do you think that forcing laws on others will somehow produce a different outcome today? Only God can change a human heart, and it is done by the work of the Holy Spirit not the work of a moral code. Obedience to God’s moral code does not produce the Holy Spirit within a person. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit within a person that produces a measure of loving obedience to his moral code. Do you think that changing laws of a country are the way to honor God? It is Jesus alone who honored God and by faith in him alone that our lives bring honor to God as well. Laws for a country are good, but they are not the way to God’s heart. If you want this country to be a people who honor God share the gospel with your neighbor and if they don’t want to hear the gospel because they just lived through your election day memes it’s time to repent and begin showing them the gospel through your radical sacrificial love.
And then there is race…
Remember when the apostle Peter and other Jews were confronted by Paul for being racist? [See: Galatians 2] Paul did not say they were being racist and that’s bad, though he could have because they were being racist and it is bad. Instead he took the issue to the core and said their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel. The truth of the gospel is that Jesus is for all people of all ethnicities of all skin colors of all languages of all countries of origin. The moment we allow racial division in our hearts or in our actions we have begun walking out of step with Jesus. My brother is half black and I have countless friends and family who are black. Many of them are fearful of the future as instances of blatant racism make headlines. To those I say, “come to the Church. We are family brought together by blood that runs deeper than race. If a church is anything but this they are out of step with the truth of the gospel. If a church is founded or rooted on Jesus + anything, they are wandering from the gospel. The Church is not Jesus + Republicans, Jesus + [a race], or Jesus + [a skin color]. The Church is Jesus + nothing, because he is our everything.
I will stand with you and fight against acts of racism because racism is evil. It is evil because it goes against Jesus’ love that reaches out with the offer of forgiveness to every race and ethnic background. There are racist in our country. I have encountered racist whites, blacks, hispanics, and asians. For too long we in the church have focused on what makes us different. It is time we cling to brings us together. There is no white church, black church, asian church, or hispanic church. There is just Christ’s Church. His bride whom he loves and purchased with his life.
Where do we go from here?
Remember Jesus came for all people. He came for sinners like me and you. He came for people of every race and skin color. Jesus came not only to show us what love is but what love does. He came for those who need him. He came for the outsiders. The “righteous religious” didn’t like him, but the prostitutes, criminals, poor, and outcasts flocked to him. If our message isn’t drawing the same people we have to ask if we are sharing the same message in the same manner.
Today on my phone the wallpaper says, “Love More.” That’s where I’m starting.
I will intentionally love my neighbors more. I will love people who are against me, more. I will love fired up Trump supporters more. I will love dejected Clinton supporters more. I will love the LGBTQ community more. I will love people whether or not they love me, MORE. I will sacrifice for people whether or not they sacrifice for me. I will serve others whether or not they serve me. I will strive to tangibly love others more each day through serving, sharing meals together, praying together, supporting, protecting, upping my random acts of kindness, tipping higher, giving others the right of way, and encouraging people with a smile, and reaching out to those who are hurting.
Our love for one another can America Great Again and show the world we are truly Stronger Together when we are bound by sacrificial love.
I will #lovemore because that is what Jesus did for me and I hope you choose to #lovemore today as well.