It’s official—the 45th President of the United States of America will be Donald J. Trump. The campaign has been polarizing and vitriolic no matter whose side you were on. But for the 74.5 million African Americans (88% of whom voted for Hillary Clinton; 8% of whom voted for Donald Trump), the election was not just a surprise but something more difficult to put into words and far more sad.
Trump’s surprise victory leaves many people of all ethnicities working through the stages of grief and loss today: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For African American Christians in particular though, I believe this election cycle and the election of Donald Trump should bring some truths into sharp focus that we had perhaps failed to focus on when America’s 44th President was so beloved by the African American electorate.
1. Salvation does not come from Washington.
No matter who is in the White House, Jesus is on the throne. That doesn’t mean that elected officials don’t impact our lives. That doesn’t mean that we should disengage from the political process. What it does remind us of though, is what Jesus said to Pilate when the powers of 1st Century Rome and the influencers of the Jewish Temple pressed upon Jesus (See John 18:33-37): “My kingdom is not of this world.” The kingdom of God is alive in our hearts and actively spreading in the world as we faithfully proclaim the Gospel in word and deed and make disciples of every ethnicity and race. In this way, we glorify God and model the reality that what men and women, boys and girls need most is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
2. We are to pray for all our leaders.
1 Timothy 2:1-5 reads: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the mana Christ Jesus,”
Do you see it there—we are to pray for ALL of our leaders—not just the ones we like. The candle shines brightest in the darkest hours. May the world see the light and love of Christ in the genuine prayers of His people. Jeremiah 29:7 adds, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” We have to be focused. This is not the time for Facebook rants and mean-spirited memes.
3. We are to honor those in authority.
In the sovereignty of God, he has allowed Donald Trump to be our President (yet this point would be the same no matter who won the election). Trump has not always honored others but remember the Bible never tells us to treat others the way they treat us—it tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Romans 13 also states, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” We should submit to and honor the office of the Presidency no matter who sits in that office. Be careful how you speak of the person in authority because they have whatever authority they have from God. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have vigorous discussion about Mr. Trump or his policies—it does mean that we should always do so in a tone that shows respect for the position he holds.
4. We are not to live in fear.
“I’m no longer a slave to fear…I am a child of God.” The popular Bethel Music song rings in my mind this morning. Fear is the rhetoric of oppression. It is the tongue of the Enemy. It is not in the nature of the children of God to live in fear of what may happen. We must be and act as children of the light. “Fear not!”