“How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” Psalm 40:4
Honestly, I couldn’t help it. I read this a few Sunday mornings ago, and the first thought in my head was “President Trump.” He creates more fake news than he complains about, and his pride is legendary. Even many who love President Trump will admit he’s often his own worst enemy.
He also came to mind because of all the emails, videos, and articles people have sent me lately, declaring him the hope to save Christianity in America. Many of these are embellished with supernatural dreams, angelic visitations, and direct words from God saying a vote for Trump is a vote for God and revival in America, and a vote for Biden is a vote against God’s kingdom. Without President Trump, they say, the U.S. will become a godless, communist wasteland.
People are even saying that God is telling us to distinguish between the man’s flaws and the mantle of anointing he carries from God to destroy those who oppose his people. I’ve never read such ridiculous double-talk in my life. “Don’t look at the fruits of a man’s life to gauge his measure.” We’re supposed to ignore all of that in the misguided belief that God uses him as a tool for his purposes. These usually come with grave warnings, like, “To the degree that you judge the man, is the degree that the Lord will judge us. Don’t get in God’s way.”
I’m sorry, this does not pass the sniff test for me. None of it has Father’s fragrance about it—not what they are saying or how they are saying it. It is easy to make up dreams and visitations and pass them off as coming from God or to want something so badly you convince yourself God is telling you what you want to hear. These “warnings” have confused many because even though they have reservations about voting to re-elect the President, they don’t want to vote against God’s will. They assume people talking to angels must be closer to God than they are. Some are even afraid that if we don’t re-elect President Trump, we invite God’s judgment on our nation.
When they ask what I think of all of this, my answer is the same. “Follow your heart, not your fears.” If you think re-electing President Trump is the right thing for our nation, then vote for him. If you can’t vote for him in good conscience because of his lack of character and lack of respect for anyone who thinks differently than he does, vote for someone else. Don’t listen to the manipulative taunts and threats of those who want to control your vote, especially if they claim to speak for God. Anyone who tells you that you will be working against God’s kingdom if you don’t vote for President Trump is a false prophet. Their motive may seem genuine, but they are genuinely deluded. And I would say the same of anyone who would tell you in God’s name to vote for Joe Biden or anyone else.
You may have good reasons to vote for Trump. You like his judicial appointments, his confrontations with China, his economic policies, and his repeal of government overreach in business regulations. I like many of those things myself. I voted for him in 2016. It was not an easy vote; I hoped the Christians supporting him would influence his behavior, and he would rise to the office. Unfortunately, he has not, and if there’s been any influence, it has run the other way. I see more of my evangelical friends becoming more like Trump when they attempt to bully others into agreeing with them.
Many of them think we needed someone of President Trump’s abrasive personality to stand up to Democrats, the mainstream media, and the so-called “deep state.” I sense a certain delight that he is treating their “enemies’ the way they wish they could if they were not constrained (and unfortunately, they see it as a constraint) by love and grace. That view is woefully misguided; for me, character matters even more than political platforms. Now, I wouldn’t suggest the Democrats are the paragon of virtue. Far from it, especially in light of some recent allegations about Biden’s business dealings with China. I don’t know if our cultural civility can survive another four years of bullying, mocking, and disdaining fellow Americans. He has proved to be the wrong President during this pandemic and the call for an honest conversation about racial equity in America. He delights in dividing Americans rather than appealing to our better angels.
For me, this election is bigger than whether President Donald Trump would serve my interests better than Vice President Joe Biden. Unless evangelicals have the courage to repudiate Trump’s divisive and demeaning character, they will wear his reputation around their necks for generations to come. How can they ever again speak convincingly on the importance of moral character in leadership when they dismissed it in deference to gaining the political power they wanted?
Over my lifetime, I’ve seen the people who most advance God’s kingdom hold themselves with humility, respect, and compassion, just like our Founder did. You can be firm and gracious while moving toward change without disrespecting those who disagree with you.
So, vote for him if you think he’s the best choice to represent America in the world, but don’t make the mistake of putting your hope in him to save Christianity or the nation. The same will be true if you put your hope in Vice President Biden.
God has not placed his hope in either candidate or even in our politics. His kingdom comes on the shoulders of one person—Jesus. That’s the only place your hope belongs. If you put it anywhere else, not only will you be devastated if your candidate loses, you’ll also be distracted if he wins. Sadly, you’ll find yourself invested in another kingdom. Politics divide even Christians from each other; only love can heal and redeem at the same time.
When all the votes are finally counted, Jesus will still ask us to wake up the next day and to love one another, our enemies, as much as our friends.
Maybe we could start that today, especially if you do disagree with what I have written.