Posted by: minnow | May 7, 2020

Holding a Christian Faith in the Time of Trump

The majority of my Christian friend have never been Bible thumpers, overt evangelizers, or even out spoken about their own deeply held convictions. Most practice the golden rule: “treat others the way you want to be treated”. They care about and for the less fortunate and show grace and forgiveness toward the imperfect–because of their faith, not in spite of it. So, I shudder every time Someone lumps all Christians in the same boat, and I am ashamed every time I catch myself doing the same thing.

The God I follow stands for creation, not against it. He wants the best for us and for all His creation. AND He wants His people to want the best for one another and for all of creation, as well. In this way, I believe in a relational God, as opposed to a puppet master who controls everything: the Spirit woos us toward that which is good and just and true because what is good and just and true is God. Still, we must choose to respond–to manifest the goodness of God and to pass it along to others. I fully believe God walked the streets of Calcutta as Mother Theresa walked and marched next to Martin Luther King in Selma. But God doesn’t just accompany the devout. When someone feeds the hungry, tends to the sick, and sits with the lonely, I see God in action. And what’s more–the world sees God in action. Conversely, oppression, indifference, and cruelty signal the absence of God. Personally, I do not believe it matters whether or not those ministering do so consciously aware they are, in those moments, His hands and His feet, God’s presence, God’s goodness, is still manifest which is why I have such a difficult time understanding our current political climate. 

The acts James referenced when he proclaimed: “Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” are examples of our conscious faith in action. But, the works Paul mentions when he wrote the Christians in Philippi saying, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” are not necessarily conscious. Paul was calling the Church’s attention to this fact–when you see good works you see God. The vessel through which these acts are accomplished is not Paul’s focus, nor in my opinion is it ever God’s. So, when I witness those who proclaim the name of Christ engage in acts of cruelty, or oppression, or even indifference, I can’t help but believe the heart of God is broken. Our declarations of faith are like the chaff that in the final analysis will be blown away. What will remain are our acts of faithfulness, our acts of goodness, kindness, peacefulness, love, and joy.

I completely understand wanting to avoid divisiveness within the Church. We certainly don’t need new denominations and non-denominational umbrellas because we can’t agree on communion. Still, the silence of those Christians–whom I would call friends, in light of the deceptive, vicious, and self promoting rhetoric of this president and his dangerous, unpresidential, behavior, rocks me. The unwillingness on the part of my fellow Christ followers to publicly distance themselves from well known figures who on the one hand claim the name of Christ but on the other hand praise this administration, confuses me. How is it possible to ignore the ongoing harm done to our nation, the crushing burdens inflicted on the weak, and the irreparable damage done to the Church by its association with 45? How can you silently watch while branches of the Christian faith defend and excuse lie after lie, racist rhetoric accompanied by racist policies, bullying, name calling, finger pointing, outrageous self promotion, nepotism, the slandering of our allies and fawning over ruthless dictators, the glorified ignorance, and wanton corruption? When will the guilt of association be enough for you to cry out, for you to beg Church leaders to repent, for your silence to stop sullying the name of God? I am waiting, but I fear I wait in vain. I worry you have let fear of man and hollow assurances render you permanently mute. 

Modern day Christianity counts John the Baptist as a true hero of the faith. Yet, in his day, he was so vilified he was beheaded. John’s warnings were directed toward the power structures of his times–an oppressive government and a blind religious structure. I am afraid at times for my relationship with the Church and some of my personal relationships within the Church. I find remaining civil a greater challenge with each passing day of this administration’s rule. The checks and balances I once thought would stop someone like Trump from causing such mayhem, the faith and courage I once believed was part of the Christian DNA seem to have vanished and I am left feeling confused and sad and angry. For now, it is the power of my anger that gives me the strength to speak out. But I don’t mind saying, it’s feeling more and more lonely out here.

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