We don’t discuss politics at home, and that’s a good thing.
I do talk politics in this blog on occasion, however. Responses typically are strong.
The goal of a blog is to spark discussion – to get you, the reader, to ask yourself what you believe, and why.
But with politics, we – nearly all of us – put our blinders on and mindlessly point out how I am right and you are wrong. We all quote “facts” to support our position, and label the other side’s “facts” as “fake news.”
If there’s anything I’ve learned from social media this year, it’s that.
A deep divide
I wrote a blog last week that said President Trump mocks the Christian faith, then followed up a few days later by re-posting a story saying Trump could be the loneliest man in America.
Common sense says we shouldn’t talk about politics or religion in polite society. Talk about both at the same time, and I was playing with fire – and not from an Advent candle.
The flames hurt. Two days before Christmas.
I addressed a deep dividing line among evangelical Christians, of which I count myself as one. Close friends and people I respect tremendously came down on the other side of the line I drew.
Trump is God’s choice, they told me. If Trump is God’s choice, then so was former President Obama, I responded. And so was every president we’ve ever had, from George Washington forward.
Trump promotes several values and viewpoints that evangelicals defend vociferously. Pro-life/anti-abortion. Appointing conservative judges. Opposing illegal immigration. Removing our troops from war zones where we don’t have a local interest. A tough stance on trade with China. Supporting Israel. Gun rights.
Trump is upholding the GOP platform, which previous GOP leaders haven’t had the guts, or gall, to do.
Our president is a bull in a china shop, and many evangelicals are ecstatic.
Is that what it takes to run a country?
He ignores his own experts, often tweeting behind their backs. He’s been married three times (two of them became naturalized citizens while married to Trump), so he’s not the best with personal relationships either. If you disagree with him, he ridicules you, fires you or divorces you.
Is that what it takes to run a country?
Whatever happened to the art of compromise? Oh right, Congress forgot how to do that years ago. That’s why Trump got elected in the first place. Congress was immobile and ineffective.
It’s our own fault Trump is president. We asked for him.
In 2016, Republicans understood the nation’s frustration with politics as usual. I’m not sure Democrats still understand.
So, the lines in the sand are drawn.
Jesus’ prayer for unity
Jesus talked about humility and loving others, including the poor and outcasts. He lived that message too. Yet Jesus did not compromise His message when talking with the religious/political leaders of His day, who sought the status quo to protect their positions, and they crucified Him for it.
The very last words of Jesus before He was killed were these:
“I ask … on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me …”
This is why my blog last week cut so deeply among so many of us. Jesus’ last words were a prayer of unity for us (those who will believe, future tense). Because we aren’t unified, Jesus’ message “that the world may believe that you have sent me” gets lost in the debate.
Two days before Christmas. Perhaps that was not a coincidence.
War at Christmas
Christmas is not a warm fuzzy story of a baby, “no crying he makes,” in a manger with animals all around. Christmas is God’s declaration of war on sin, nothing less. God the Father sent His Son to this earth to fight, and defeat, sin. To do it, He had to become fully human, as well as remain fully God. Words cannot adequately explain how this works. But that’s the story of Christmas, and the story of our Christian faith.
If President Trump forces us to take a stand on our faith, then that’s a good thing.
Instead, as I mentioned, we’ve put our blinders on. When I re-posted a report claiming our president might be the loneliest man in America, some of you dismissed the article because of the sources quoted, ignoring the content of the story completely.
Because the sources, several of them, were “liberal,” the authors had an ulterior motive – that Trump isolated himself from the sources, because he disagrees with their viewpoints.
I understand loneliness, at least to a degree. If the president has isolated himself, it’s largely his own fault – because anyone who tries to get close to him gets pushed away or fired. He trusts no one.
As a bull in a china shop, he will not let anyone tame him.
The message that unifies – and divides
I’ve read articles before about loneliness among high-profile actors and actresses, because they live a lifestyle that us common folk cannot relate to. Perhaps this is Trump’s lot in life too.
But no. We reject that line of thinking because we reject the man. We treat him as less than human, because we think he treats us as less than human.
That escalates. We point fingers, accusing the other side of being less human than we are.
This is our country today.
Can we find common ground, somewhere – anywhere?
Jesus knew what He was talking about when He prayed that we might be unified. We justify all kinds of things as Christians. Our message is not unified at all. Faith is messy. Faith is hard. The Bible promises that all believers will suffer for their faith, no exceptions.
Jesus said He did not come to spruce up the traditional Old Testament message; He came to deliver an entirely new one that revolves around His crucifixion and resurrection.
That message should unify, and galvanize, Christians. That message alone.
All the other stuff follows Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Does President Trump have the cross and the empty tomb as the starting point in his life? No, he doesn’t.
That’s why I wrote my blog last week.
And why all of us, myself included, fall off track so easily.
Father, forgive us. Every one of us, for we know not what we do.