We need to get used to waking up the morning after a big vote to discover that the impossible has happened. At one point Donald Trump even said “we’re gonna do a Brexit”, and to be fair to him, he did! He did a Brexit, beating every expectation, contradicting every poll and alarming almost every world leader.
Most of us can’t remember a more cartoonish election than the one we witnessed in November. In the four weeks leading up to the election, eleven women accused Trump of sexual harassment and the FBI reopened and hastily reclosed their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. This stuff just doesn’t happen in real life!
There’s no point going over Trump’s litany of misdemeanours – we’ve heard about them. Barack Obama provided a concise summary when he said Trump was “uniquely unqualified”. And yet over 80 per cent of white evangelical Christians – our brothers and sisters in Christ – supported Trump.
You may have been in church when someone did that talk on how most biblical leaders would fail the test of what we expect in a leader, and yet they were used by God. David was an adulterer, Paul was a persecutor, Mark was a quitter etc.
I’m not saying that Trump is like Moses. But I am saying that people can change; God can change people. If we don’t believe that we don’t have a gospel.
This gospel often requires us to hold in balance conflicting ideas. Paul tells us in Romans 13:1 to give our due to the governing authorities of this world. That includes affording them respect: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
But at the same time, one page earlier, Paul tells us to not be taken in by what we see around us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve…God’s will” (Romans 12:2).
We can do this not by ignoring what Trump did in the past, but by expecting him to do better in the future. His misdemeanours need to stay in the past, he needs to rein in his temperamental offensive remarks for the future. In short, Trump now needs to govern in a different way to how he campaigned.
In this regard I’ve been encouraged by two things. The first was Trump’s acceptance speech – which was sensible and mature. The second was a note I saw in the Huffington Post. For several months the Post has published this at the end of every Trump-related article: “Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.”
Shortly after the Trump win, they removed this note and stated “we’re going to start with a clean slate.” If the Huffington Post can give Donald Trump a fresh start, we as Christians can do the same.
CHRIS GOSWAMI is an award-winning blogger (7minutes.net) and Baptist minister For more opinion on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective, visit premierchristianity.com/blog