Tomorrow is inauguration day as we all know. The Barak Obama presidency will pass the baton to the Donald Trump administration, and who knows what awaits us. As confirmation hearings carry on, or rage on, in the U.S. Senate for Trump’s cabinet appointees, what is clear is that our country is not “coming together” as we often boast of doing in crisis or adversity. Instead, tensions are escalating, conflict is swirling, and outrage is everywhere. It’s easy to get influenced by all the angst and to be unsettled by the all the uncertainty surrounding this transfer of power.
We are in a sea of hate and division where opinions and feelings are the chosen vessel, volume and intensity are the winds that move us, total agreement and alignment is the only safe harbor, and the shoreline is nowhere on the horizon. Truth is the Leviathan nobody believes in and everybody fears, so it’s largely ignored. As Jesus’ church we can board that ship and go wherever the swells of hypersensitivity and offense take us; we can set our course with private insults and public shaming of those who disagree with us; or, we can create some more peaceful conditions, and offer people another way to get where they want to go.
People are looking to a President and political party to secure for them the life they want, the joy they long for and the relief they need. They want peace and prosperity; acceptance and affirmation; safety and security; they want a future and a hope. And the transfer of political power and governing officials represents the hope of these things… a hope on which no President has ever managed to actually deliver. Sure, we’ve had prosperous times, peaceful stretches, and administrations with high approval ratings, but even those are met with the hope of still better days ahead.
For so many people, Trump represents that hope. The hope of a return to something lost or the reform of something corrupted. And all the negativity and opposition is ruining the moment for them.
So many people also feel like Trump represents the antithesis of hope. He crushed their hopes and it can’t get any worse than this. And the idea of supporting, embracing or even tolerating his presidency is too much to bear. A Trump presidency is their hell.
Then there’s the media. My goodness, the media. They’re like a guy running into a crowded building to warn of a terrorist attack only to find the bomb is strapped to their chest and they’re the one blowing the whole thing up.
Everyone is so overcome with anger and anxiety that we’ve descended beneath Kindergarten ethics. Social media is a dark display of our collective disregard for kindness, decency, respect, honesty or anything else we require of our toddlers. The scary thing is we can all see it at some level, but when someone says something that betrays my principles, then suddenly, “they started it” justifies any and every response.
So, how do we, the Church, engage in the midst this climate?
We can hit the polls, work social media, write letters and lobby officials, yell and scream at people we don’t like or agree with, criticize and argue with everyone, align on some side of consumer protest, or take any number of other actions common to man. But neither any of those individual actions, nor all of those collective actions is likely to have near the impact of God’s people praying. There is one who is Sovereign over all of this and now is a good time to lay our burdens before Him, and beg for his intervention and involvement. If you love this country, are concerned for the state of our nation, and foresee a tragic trajectory for her, then pray. Pray for our leaders. Pray for our citizens. Pray for the media. Pray for the Church. Pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
2. Humble Yourself
The world doesn’t need a ranting Church, a raging Church or even a religious Church. The world needs a repentant Church, and a radically submitted Church. We need humility to listen to, empathize with, and befriend our neighbors who hate our values and what we stand for. And we need repentance for our own pride, worldliness, self-righteousness, lukewarmness and cowardice. There are plenty of people trying to be heard and win arguments. Let’s be a people who listen and win hearts.
3. Love Each Other
This seems obvious, but we’re so obviously not good at it. Jesus’ new community, the humanity that he died to give birth to, is people reconciled to one another, who belong to one another, share life and possessions with one another, and depend on one another. The things that naturally divide people, which this presidential election and transfer have exposed so blatantly and alarmingly, are not to be things that divide us. Being from a different culture, economic stature, social status, political party, or ethnic group may divide the world. It must not divide Christ’s Church.
We are unified as one body, by one faith, into one baptism and under one Lord. Let’s resolve not to allow secondary and peripheral matters to dilute our love for one another and identification with one another that is established on what is of first importance.
As I stated above, people everywhere want peace and prosperity; acceptance and affirmation; safety and security; they want a future and a hope. In their frustration with the political landscape, let’s makes sure that we point people to the gospel, which is the true source for all those longings in their hearts. As the conservative and liberal narratives are disrupted, and the American narrative is unmasked, let’s be a people who give our communities and cities an alternative narrative.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have frequently promised that under their leadership, America would become “that shining city on a hill.” But their promise is to produce and become what only the Church of Jesus has the potential and power to be. Too many people have been looking to the wrong light on the wrong hillside, but the city is burning and the mountain is crumbling before their eyes. Perhaps in the darkness and chaos of that reality, we can yet provide a place for refugees to come find a new home. Perhaps we can be a brighter city on a higher hill proclaiming a greater promise and embodying a more satisfying reality. On this inauguration day, with disillusioned citizens all around us, let’s be mindful of the inauguration of Jesus’ Kingdom, and let’s incarnate the values, customs, and culture of His Kingdom.