“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Luke 6:37-30
I have not written anything in some days now. Actually, I haven’t even engaged in a lot of meaningful conversation with anyone since. . . . . . well, you know. . . . . THAT day. I’m referring of course, to November 8, 2016 when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States.
The days that followed that stunning electoral upset have left me grieving; deeply saddened.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I prayed fervently that Hillary Clinton would not be elected as our President. For a variety of reasons, I did not support Donald Trump. I have documented those reasons clearly over the the past year. And yet, particularly because of the issue of abortion, I prayed earnestly that Clinton would not be elected. The issue of the sanctity of life is a deal breaker for me. Those who will not protect the unborn will find deaf ears when they try to outline their policies and platforms to me. I have no interest in anything else they might have to say. Oh, I know all about arguments for the Supreme Court, policies on immigration, foreign policy, and the economy. None of those issues rise to the level of importance, or the urgency of turning back the scourge of abortion. Even though I did not support Mr. Trump, if it had to be that one of them would be President, I am happy he prevailed.
Now that Mr. Trump has been chosen as our leader, I am committed to pray for his success as President; asking God to give wisdom, compassion, and favor to garnish his term in office. I am bound by the command of the Holy Scriptures and by good sense to pray for President-elect Trump, Mr. Pence, and their administration.
Yet, it is neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton that saddens my heart. At some point during this ugly campaign much of the Christian church allowed itself to get sucked into the morass of acrimony, name calling, and accusation. I had hoped against hope that in the days following the election the anger and hatefulness would abate, but it seems that the “feet that are shod with the gospel of peace” are still bogged down in the quagmire of oppositional politics and we have lost the clarity of our calling. We have not been called to #hashtag progressives into submission or shame, but to love our “enemies,” “do good to those who hate us,” and to “bless them that curse us.”
After years and years of being marginalized, beaten down, legislated against, being called ugly names, and referenced in vulgar innuendo; after being called stupid, ignorant, and uncultured and yes, deplorable; many of my brethren seem to feel it appropriate to now turn the tables. We have, in a sense, become what we have so vehemently hated. We’ve “won” and #liberals and #progressives are going to pay dearly for their sins against us. We have become like Roman Centurions marching proudly into Rome; our captives naked and in chains and our feet upon the necks of our defeated foe. We will now put them to shame and laugh hilariously at their humiliation.
Proverbs 24:17 declares: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” Has this very clear commandment been repealed, or do we feel that since we have been treated so meanly we are free now to put our foot on the neck of our enemy to exacerbate his humiliation?
1 Peter 3:9 warns us: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing?” Can we be satisfied with the “blessing” of a victorious election; or do we not hunger for the blessings of God bestowed upon His obedient children who will honor His Word above their own base urges?
Each angry and bitter hashtag we toss out represents a soul for whom the Son of God endured the cross. Every humiliating meme we post represents a broken sinner, blinded by the god of this world, “of such we once were,” that the Holy Spirit hungers to woo to the Father’s love.
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Allow me to state what ought to be obvious here. It doesn’t take much of a man to be kind and generous of spirit to someone he agrees with, or who treats him well, or votes the same way he does. It behooves a man of God however, to honor God in the manner in which he addresses the hateful and unjust men of his world. Simply, we must do better. We must be better.
A woman in our prayer group recently prayed the most heartfelt and beautiful prayer for Hillary Clinton. She acknowledged the hurt and disappointment; the rejection that Mrs. Clinton must surely be feeling after losing such a bitterly contested election. She prayed that in her brokenness, Mrs. Clinton would allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to her the darkness and deception that had overwhelmed her life and that she would be convicted of her sinfulness and turn to Christ for healing and restoration.
This dear sister was pleased that Mrs. Clinton did not win the election but she would not gloat in her defeat. She refused to rejoice in Mrs. Clinton’s pain. Instead, she was moved with the heart of the Father for this broken and humiliated sinner who like each of us needs more than anything, a Savior.
Early on in the election cycle, I realized that I was being dragged into the quagmire of bitterness and anger; that it was sucking me down and smothering the “Christ-life” in me. I began to hate the very thoughts that were forming and taking root in my heart. When that happened, I was able to view the whole process through different eyes – and to view those on the other side of the political spectrum through different eyes. I warned that we were in danger of idolizing Mr. Trump and demonizing Mrs. Clinton while failing to remember that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Mrs. Clinton and the #liberals, #progressives, and whatever other favorite hashtag you’re slinging around, have been defeated. However, the #realenemy is still out there and he’s not done yet.
We are not called to shoot his foot soldiers, but to set them free. #hastagthat