On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. The surprise winner was voted into office by 62,984,825 voters. (Wikipedia) Post election, people have been asking: Who were those voters who put him into office? Pollsters, pundits and pastors have suggested several answers: Evangelical Christians, disenfranchised blue collar laborers, disillusioned citizens, white males, _________.
Here is the more intriguing question. Did God vote him in? Did God have any part in the election results? The answer of Paula White, Franklin Graham and other pastors and parishioners is “yes.” It was God who raised him up to serve as the POTUS. Are they right? Did God put President Trump into office?
The Bible’s answer is simple and controversial. The prophet, Daniel, says of God:
He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:21, NIV)
The simple answer: God, sovereign ruler of the world, has the final say whether someone will take a leadership position and for how long. He raises up leaders and he deposes them. No one has ever served as a Queen, King, President Emperor, or Prime Minister without the hand of God being involved. Whoa, Roger. Are you saying that God raises up harsh, evil and bloodthirsty rulers? Well, Jesus answers that question. To Pilate, the ruler who would end up signing off on his own execution, Jesus said:
“ ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above…’” (John 19:11, NIV)
The controversial answer: God, sovereign ruler of the world, allows evil rulers to rise to power, rulers who kill innocent people. God raised up Pilate and He removed him, but not before allowing him to make destructive decisions. God raises up both evil leaders and good. So, Donald Trump became President by the hand of God. But another questions persists.
Is President Trump a leader anointed by God for good, or is he a leader allowed by God to do evil?
It doesn’t matter. Stay with me. The question is fascinating but immaterial. Whether President Trump is anointed or atrocious, or somewhere in between, God still calls Christians to three things: respect the office, rebuke the sin, and review the policies.
Respect the office. God has designed that rulers have authority, and so God requires that leaders be honored. The Bible says: Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:17, NIV) When Peter wrote his words, the emperor was Nero, a notoriously harsh ruler, whose leadership would lead to Peter’s death. Atrocious. Honor involves speaking with respect even when you disagree with or challenge a ruler. Concerns with some of President Trump’s behavior and policies should not lead to mockery, name-calling, hate or judgmentalism. Are we missing this? And in the missing, are we missing a chance for our concerns to be heard?
Rebuke the sin. John the Baptizer boldly rebuked the adulterous Tetrarch, Herod, who would then imprison and execute him. I admire such boldness. But God also sent Nathan the Prophet to rebuke the adulterous King David for his sins: “Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel,… (2 Samuel 12:7, NIV)
God calls Nathan to rebuke the popular ruler, anointed by God as a King with God’s heart, for his failure to live out God’s moral instructions. Moral failure is to be rebuked, whether the leader is anointed or atrocious. Are we missing this? Among Christians, I am hearing a lot of “Trump is our man” cheers, but very few “you are the man” rebukes.
The consequence is that we mute our moral megaphone. We are to call our nation, our leaders, and ourselves to moral wholeness, but when we are selective, listeners understandably tune out the message. When we cry “you are the man” to President Clinton but not President Trump, and when we call out abortion but not adultery, our passion sounds more political than moral.
Review the policies. God reviews leader policies…and calls them out as needed. The prophet Isaiah, declares: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” Isaiah 10:1-2 Leaders, both anointed and atrocious, make unjust or flawed laws and policies. God called out King David for numbering his troops, something ironically similar to parading your troops and military strength. An anointed ruler had a bad policy.
We should review a leader’s policies for their alignment with God’s heart whether the leader is anointed or atrocious. Are we missing this? Are Trump supporters automatically embracing his every policy? Are Trump critics reflexively rejecting his every policy? We dare not blindly embrace or reject the laws and policies of any one leader or party.
My words about God, politics and morality carry a risk, mostly related to my own fallibility. Sobered by this, I finish with a beautiful call from God to us in this hour.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority. (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NIV)
Pray. Pray for all people. Pray for me. Blessings, not curses! Pray for us. Pray for every person who will read these words. Pray for our fellow citizens and global neighbors. And pray for our leaders. Be they anointed or atrocious, or somewhere in between, pray for them. First of all…pray.
[Feature photo from geralt on Pixabay.com]
Well said and a good reminder. Sadly, I often forget to pray FIRST! Thanks for tackling such a challenging issue.
Roger, Well placed thoughts. As always, I appreciate your candor and thoughtful insight.