Trump is President, Now What?

Trump is President, Now What?

John Haralson   •   November 9, 2016

Yes, King Jesus is on his throne...and King Jesus mourns with those who mourn.

Stephen Moss

Today, we all woke up to a new world. To most people in our congregation, the future seems much darker and dystopian than it did last week. To some, however, this new world brings welcome change. The nation is divided and people are angry and scared. I am writing this in an attempt to shepherd the people in our congregation through this precarious time of transition in our country.

In our church, we want people to take their vote seriously. We want people to vote their conscience. We also want people to vote in an informed way. At the same time, we do not bind anyone’s conscience with their vote. We believe that the Kingdom of God is bigger than one political party, one candidate, and one election.

There are people in our congregation who voted for Trump and are glad that he won. At the same time, there are others in our congregation who voted for other candidates, and are now grieving Trump’s victory.  Personally, and I speak just for myself and not for the church as a whole, I am disturbed about the prospect of him becoming our next President. I fear he could lead us down destructive paths financially, socially, environmentally, and globally. For friends and loved ones who voted differently than I did, it is important to state that I love them and respect their God-given freedom to vote their conscience.

Though I have significant anxieties about our newly elected President, I also live in a bubble of privilege. I am a 50-year old, white, college-educated, home-owning Christian male. My fears are real, but I know of others in different situations who face much more significant fears than I do.

For the immigrant families at my children’s schools, what will happen to them, especially many of them who are Muslim? Will they be deported? Will our country continue to be a sought after place for people seeking a better life to risk everything and relocate?

For my friends of color, what will this mean for them? The events of the past several years in our country have exposed the deep and ugly currents of continuing racism. Will Trump be able to effectively tend to these wounds? I texted a black friend this morning to share my own sorrow over the election results. He responded that he was on a self-imposed media withdrawal, and just couldn’t bear to think about it.

I also think about a dear friend who is a single mom living in a rural area. She is deeply anxious about the prospect of the repeal of Obamacare. This legislation, though not without its problems, has literally been a lifesaver for her. Without it, she has no idea how she would be able to provide health insurance for her family.

For friends and loved ones in the LGBT community, they are scared too. Many of them have been the targets of bullying and intimidation for much of their lives. Under Trump’s leadership, will bullying be strengthened and further normalized?

There are many reasons why people in our country are legitimately afraid.

So, what are we Christians supposed to do, regardless of how we voted?

1) Listen to the voices of the fearful. Whether you are rejoicing or grieving today, listen to the people who are deeply afraid of the outcome of the election. Jesus tells us that we are to “Mourn with those who mourn.” Now is a great time to do this. It is a great time to try to listen to the fearful, the marginalized, and the anxious. God is always pushing his people out to the “least of these". Use this opportunity to cooperate with this holy push to the margins of society. And, prepare to advocate for justice on behalf of anyone who is oppressed. At the same time, we need to take our own anxieties and fears to the Lord and continue to cast them upon him and encourage others to do the same. It is important to be able to name our fears and listen to the fears of others. It is also important to learn the very important practice of casting those fears upon the Lord, knowing that he cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

2) Don’t vilify those with whom you disagree. At a time like this, it’s tempting to draw a conclusion that goes something like this, “People who voted differently than me are obviously stupid and evil.” That is a lazy way out. It’s also a sub-Christian way out (Matthew 5:22). Although this problem runs both ways, in a progressive, wealthy, educated city like Seattle, this mindset is more often used to publicly judge and dismiss all Trump supporters as racist, misogynist xenophobes. While some Trump supporters are racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic, there are also rational, non-sinful reasons why a person might vote for Trump.

One of the post-election themes that is surfacing now is how the elites in society largely ignored the voice of rural, working-class white people. Trump listened to their fear and their anger. If more people would have listened to their voices, this election could have gone very differently.

Another thing that is striking is how the pollsters badly underestimated Trump’s support. There is a huge empathy, communications, and tolerance gap in our society if voting for Trump so taboo that a number of people won’t even admit it to an anonymous pollster, much less discuss it publicly.

We have a great opportunity in our church to learn how to patiently and compassionately listen to one another in areas where we disagree and even disagree strongly. Within our own congregation, we have people who, with a clear conscience before the Lord, voted for Trump, Clinton, a third party candidate, or even abstained from voting. I would encourage all of us to “cross over the aisle” within our own church in an effort to empathetically listen to our brothers and sisters in Christ who see the world very differently. If we cannot build bridges within our own congregation, how do we think we can work to build bridges in the country at large?

3) Pray. It is a cliché, but it’s a cliché we need right now. The Apostle Paul instructs the church to “pray for kings and all who are in high positions” (I Timothy 2:2). At the time he wrote this, Paul had in mind Roman emperors and other governing authorities. Some of these people were good leaders, while many of them were not. We need to pray for President-Elect Trump. We need to pray that God would direct his steps and fill him with wisdom and good counselors. We can pray this prayer with confidence because even though Trump is the President-Elect of the United States, Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We may not understand what God is doing in our country right now, but we do need to be reassured that Jesus still reigns. Praying is a way to live that out.


Resources.

I’m a black Christian, and guess what? Donald Trump’s America is my America, too,by Thabiti Anyabwile

President Trump: Now What For the Church?, by Russell Moore

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance

The Reformed African American Network