For the last couple of weeks, I have been pondering how U.S. Christians would move forward in light of the election results. To be honest, I had been thinking mostly in terms of a Hillary Clinton victory. While I was drafting those thoughts in my head, I figured that many of the conclusions would be true no matter who won, but a Clinton win would have entailed different nuances.
Last night, though, I went to bed staring at my phone in disbelief. Was Donald J. Trump really about to win the United States’ Presidency? I didn’t know what to think or even feel, but I truly believed beforehand that this election would be a lose-lose for Christian witness no matter the outcome.
On the one hand, a Clinton administration would pose genuine threats to religious liberty. The liberal, Democratic machine’s view that certain religious views need to be changed went from subtle to overt in this election. On the other hand, much of the fervor behind the candidacy of Trump served (to many) as evidence proving the rule as to why the Left believes those views need to change. With this election, the perspective that many nonbelievers have of Christians (namely that we are bigoted, self-interested, moral-preeners, etc.) has, rightly or wrongly, been confirmed in their minds as the Bible-belt lit up red in support of a morally dubious political candidate.
1 thing that is changed forever in this country is the meaning of the word “Christian” as it applies to politics.
— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) November 9, 2016
I know that many of my Christian brothers and sisters might scoff at the thought that from evangelical support of Donald Trump follows the fact that Christians will have a tough time witnessing to a significant portion of U.S. nonChristians. “Evangelical” was already a slur in the minds of many on the Left before this election. It has become even more so now. For Christians, I would argue that this should greatly concern us because it greatly inhibits our ability to share the Gospel of Christ’s victory over sin.
Many Christians tend to spite those on the Left who look down on believers. While I can understand the sentiment (and have felt it from time to time), our reaction should be grief rather than anger. For when they despise the Christian, they reveal a genuine stumbling block that impedes their salvation. Some Christians might be tempted to rejoice at this, but should we not feel the same sense of loss that Paul had for his fellow Jews when Jesus Christ proved a stumbling block for them? (cf. Romans 9:2-3)
Many people are afraid. They fear for their freedom. They fear that their voices will be squelched. They fear that they are about to be railroaded by the force of the Trump train. Are they wrong to be afraid?
The answer to that question is likely yes and no, but one thing that Christians have a duty to ensure: in our communities, we must spread the love of Jesus like wildfire. Be Christ to those who fear. Hear the concerns of the hurting and work to build relationships so that (at least when in comes to you as a Christ-follower) they can know, whatever may come under this new administration, they can trust the fact that you deeply care about them and long for their best.
Christian, your responsibility to love your neighbor and serve your community continues tomorrow no matter who wins the Presidency.
— Brandon Elrod (@brandonelrod) November 9, 2016
To be sure, many Christians expected and feared that their views would be squashed by the might of political will under a Clinton administration. Would the Left have felt any sympathy toward the Christians who faced such marginalization?
Ultimately for us, the answer to that question is irrelevant. As Christians, we are especially called to love those who would not act in kind (cf. Mt. 5:43-48). So, as a Christian, whether you are happy or sad about last night’s results, be the light of Christ to those who are despairing. Do not exult and beat your chest like your favorite team just won.
For there is real damage that needs to be mended and hearts that need to be loved. Please, for (and with) the love of God, be one who ushers in peace as much as you possibly can.