Before you read this, these are some observations I have made of the Bible and evangelicals. If you end up being offended, thoughtfully pray about it, lament to me, and handle your business like an adult.
The first five books of the Bible highlight the foundation of Israel. In the two books focused on the Law (Leviticus and Deuteronomy) God gives clear instruction about practices to keep Israel both morally and ceremonially pure. He also gives instruction on how Israel is meant to be radically different from other nations. No child sacrifices. No pagan sex worship. No oppression of people, especially women, children, and foreigners. In fact God tells Israel since you were oppressed (in Egypt) care for women and children and foreigners as a testimony of how God cares for them. This is a repeated instruction in both the Old Testament and New Testament.
When God gives Israel the Law, He tells them practices to serve those who have little.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do no go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”
In this repeated instruction, Christians learn how to care for the disenfranchised in a manner that does not rob them of their imago dei dignity. This is what matters most to me: poverty and immigrants. I care about those in need not having the resources to succeed and being placed in systems (created by people) where it only helps the symptoms.
I wrote this first portion (the part above this one) about two weeks ago post election. I didn’t vote for Trump. So, I was not enthused about his victory. Greater than my lack of support for President-elect Trump was my growing anger at the evangelical voting population. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how they could support someone so vile. Someone who just screams anti-Christ values in the manner he speaks of humans. I mean even the Old Testament speaks of Gentile leaders who ruled over Israel with greater levels of compassion (Cyrus and Artaxerxes in Ezra).
What I have come to understand in the past two weeks is this: what matters to me as a Christian is not the same thing that matters to other Christians. And that’s okay(ish). Some Christians don’t care about poverty and immigrants. However, I don’t care about being pro-life and America’s relationship with Israel as much as I probably should. (Personally, I am pro-contraceptives. Free condoms and birth control and Plan B for everybody)! I just don’t have the capacity to care about all the things I need to care about.
I guess what frustrates me ultimately, is not knowing, what should we value the most? Because, the poor matter a lot to the Lord, as do immigrants. However, God was not pleased with the slaughtering of children in Canaan, which led to their demise. What would God’s stance on education be and gun laws?
I dunno? I dunno? I don’t think I am bringing any new content about this stuff to the table. If anything, I believe this election just points to a problem with the Church. We rely too heavily on the government to do what we have been asked to do. Would it be great to have a government that sided with us on everything: totally! However, if we choose to impose our values as believers from a place of dominance and control, then we completely lose sight of the Biblical story of humility, sacrifice, and people’s right to choose. God’s raising of Israel and Abraham was to show all the nations that there was a better way. A way where we take care of those who suffer and not oppress them. A way where we care about children and immigrants and the impoverished.
The church is called to nationalism, but the nation we represent is a kingdom. Our King is Christ; we are simply ambassadors charged with the task of living by kingdom principles in a broken world.
I end with this small note to Christians:
My Brothers and Sisters,
We failed. We all have opinions and beliefs about what matters most. However, we should be mindful about the lengths of support we offer a candidate. Pastors it is not your place to endorse candidates to your congregation, either passively or aggressively. Teach them how to be attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Believers, it is not own place to hungrily pursue positions of authority over all people. Choose humility; it’s always the best option. Finally, it is not a sign of disrespect to support a policy and question the man or woman behind it. It is wisdom and discernment. I will do my best to respect President-elect Trump. However, my potential, future support of any of his potential, future policies don’t indicate my support of him. Neither my faith as a Christian nor my nationalism as an American will allow it. My prayers go first to the church and then the nation as we enter into this season.