Today, at noon, many of us watched and listened as a man placed his hand on the Bible in front of the US Capitol, and said,
"I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The United States. As we are all aware, this is a term that defines the nature of our republic, and not a statement of our shared ideology or mission. Everywhere we turn, we are reminded of the deep divisions in this country on a variety of issues. Eight years ago, many of the people who were rejoicing are now upset. Eight years ago, many of the people who were upset are now rejoicing.
Red America. Blue America.
The American electorate is vast and diverse. So is the orthodox Christian community. I hesitate to use the word evangelical, because, even though it is biblical word, meaning “to proclaim the good news of the gospel”, its meaning in our current cultural context has been truncated into a political demographic. All that said, orthodox Christianity is not united on our feelings about the results of the election.
So, where does that leave us, his Church, on inauguration day, and for the next four years?
It leaves us where we have always been. It leaves us with the same mission - one that is much, much bigger than anything the 45thpresident has taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend.
As Jesus approached his death he prayed that his diverse followers (including tax collectors and zealots – who had hated each other), “may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them, even as you loved me. (John 17:23)”
As Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matt 28:19-20).”
And, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth Acts 1:8).”
We are told that the test of true religion is not who you voted for, but, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27).”
Regardless of who our president is (and yes, even if you didn't vote for them, they are your president), and what they advocate, we are called to respect our leaders (Romans 13), seek the welfare of the city into which we have been sent and pray to the Lord on its behalf (Jer. 29), pursue justice for the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17, and many others!), invite the homeless poor into our homes (Isaiah 58:7), care for the sojourner (Deut 10:19, Lev.19:34), love our all of our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18 & Mark 12:30-31), proclaim the gospel (too many to count), and unite behind our King.
We have a King who does NOT change every four years (Hebrews 1:8). A King who took office by spreading out his arms and dying on a cross (Romans 5:6-8), in order to fulfill the promise to preserve, protect, and defend His Church (Col. 1:15-20), and send them out just as the Father sent Him (John 20:21).
In sum, the unchanging call of the Church is to place our own hands on the Bible and commit ourselves “to experiencing and extending the life-changing love of Jesus Christ, in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities.”
May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America - through his Church (that's you)!