Words have meaning, sure that’s a pretty obvious statement, but in light of all that has been going in the last week plus it bears repeating.
Last week I posted about my feelings on the election, about the bulk of evangelical church leaders support of the President Elect, the knowledge that my personal journey of faith and just daily life has pushed me away from the way an evangelical is supposed to think and act, and in some ways has placed road blocks and wedges between people who knew me when…
Words are easy, especially today when those words can be posted from a distance without any dialog. When we read words we assign them meaning not just based on definition but on a set of filters we have picked up over our lifetime. When I read I hear words and sentences if that makes sense. I put emotion and inflection, or at least my brain does, into what I am reading. This is problematic because I am almost certain that I get the intention wrong at least 90 percent of the time.
But words matter just like actions matter. When I look at what is happening, at who is being appointed to important positions and at the actions of a group of people who everyone knew existed but that had been relegated to silence. There will always be bigotry in the world because humans are flawed. Still as Christ followers we’re supposed to remember that being in the world is necessary but living differently is not just some sort of suggestion. It’s a command from the one we claim to follow.
Here is where I get frustrated. In every movement there are extreme individuals. People who the vast majority of people wish would just not open their mouth. Those individuals are useful in some ways, they represent numbers and numbers are always good to have, but then many of us hope that they will slink off to obscurity again once the initial goal is achieved. I know there are people who voted for the president-elect that are loving, caring thoughtful individuals, they don’t look down on people, they don’t and never would say some of the things that are being said with increasing regularity. They probably hope that the alt right will just slink back to that rock it crawled out from under and disappear for at least another two years and if they have their way another four. The thing is it’s not happening, the alt right is not crawling anywhere and with the appointment of Steve Bannon it seems that the new administration is perfectly fine with that. Words matter and Trumps words have birthed a fear in a large group of people in this country, I place myself with that group. But that’s not all that those words have done, they have emboldened this group of people so much that they not only aren’t crawling back under the rock, but are willing to pick those rocks up and start throwing them, and through it all the evangelical movement, specifically its leaders seem to remain silent, it’s not enough to call for prayer, it’s not enough to have a rally where the answer is to pray for our country and leadership to somehow get back to God. The church should have already been praying, it’s time to be Hands and Feet extended to the whosoever’s, which makes this next paragraph so hard to write.
As much as I wish it were not so, President Elect Trump is a reality. I am completely down with protests. I think that they offer an opportunity, when done peacefully, to show where we stand in tangible ways, but words matter, and no matter how much it pains us to admit it. We have a President Elect. Democrats have said not my president when it was George W B, Republicans said not my president when it was Barak O, and now Democrats are again saying not my president when it’s Donald T. Not My Choice seems more accurate. I know it’s not as catchy a slogan, but it is non-the-less true. Protest but do so in such a way that the people’s attention you are trying to get are pushed to confront the reality of what is now happening, forced to face the fact that the racism, misogyny, and bigotry that they want to claim is just a fringe part of their choice is not as fringe as they thought or wanted to admit.
When I say not my choice it places the onus on the ones who voted for the President Elect to deal with the choice they made, or should in theory. When I say not my choice I am reminding people who I get a chance to choose again in two years for the House and Senate, and in four years for the White House. When I say not my choice I also begin to realize the responsibility I have to stand up for and with people who will be effected in the next four years but also who are feeling the fear and effects of what is happening right now, and finally when I say not my choice, I am faced with the reality that I have the choice to pray, every day, for the leadership of our country, not the way I want to pray, but the way Paul told Timothy to pray for them.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”
(1 Timothy 2:1–2 NLT-SE)
What strikes me in this scripture is that we are not necessarily praying for conversion here. We are to pray for God to help them. I have to say that’s not something that I really want to do right now. I want to pray that the incoming administration implodes, that they fail to enact a single policy measure that they ran on. I want to pray that the Senate Majority leader fails, that The speaker of the house falls apart. I want to pray imprecatory prayers, but that’s not what I’m supposed to do.
I’m supposed to pray for my leaders and ask God to Help them, but more than that I’m supposed to Give thanks for them. I don’t want to, but living like Christ necessitates my daily doing something that no one in their right mind would want to do. Take up a cross and follow him.
What makes this all so hard is the realization that I must pray for help and guidance for the president-elect, and stand with the people who are out there protesting, working with them, loving them where they are, and pushing the importance of the issues that face us all.
Our country is more divided than ever, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I have come to a realization though, healing the divide isn’t nearly as important as living out the faith I have been called to. So I’ll be doing a lot of praying, and a lot of standing up for the people who are afraid and stand to lose the most. I’ll be doing a lot of praying for leaders and standing against the policies they will attempt to make that go against the mandate to bring the love and Light of Christ to “WHOSOEVER.”