Today marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. Donald Trump officially becomes the 45th President of the United States.
So far, Americans have responded to President Trump with everything from glowing adulation to outright contempt. As Christians, everything we say and do should be guided by scripture — including how we react to our elected leaders. How, then, should Christians respond to President Trump?
1. Pray for President Trump.
As President Trump begins one of the world’s most difficult jobs, Christians have a God-given responsibility to pray for him. Paul explains the importance of praying for our leaders in his letter to Timothy. He writes,
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. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
As Christians, we need to heed Paul’s words to pray for President Trump and our elected leaders. Pray that President Trump would grow in wisdom and that he would surround himself with wise counsel. Pray that he would be a man of integrity, fearing God more than men. Pray for a safe, peaceful transition of power. And, most importantly, pray that he would repent of his sins and believe in Christ, if he has not done so already.
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2. Honor President Trump.
The Bible also teaches that God calls followers of Christ to honor those in authority. Paul addresses the importance of honoring our leaders in his letter to the church at Rome. He writes,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1)
Paul then explains that governing authorities are “God’s servant[s]” and that God gives us authorities for our good (Romans 13:4). Elsewhere, Peter similarly calls Christians to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” and he calls this act of honoring our leaders “the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13, 15).
In issuing these calls, Paul and Peter were not pandering to the government. In fact, many of their governing authorities actively persecuted the church. For example, Peter acknowledged that his readers might suffer for doing the right thing (1 Peter 3:17). Yet both Paul and Peter called believers to honor governing authorities even though these same authorities often opposed the church at every turn.
In the same way, we should honor President Trump and our governing authorities. Does honoring President Trump mean that we must agree with him at every point? No, scripture alone forms our convictions. Does it mean that we must blindly obey him? No, our greater authority is Christ himself. Does it mean that we ignore his faults or mistakes? No, because John the Baptist rightfully pointed out his leader’s public sin (Matthew 14:3-4).
Rather, we honor President Trump (and others in authority) as a posture of the heart in obedience to Christ. We acknowledge the importance of his position. We seek his well being. And we recognize that our governing authorities may not be perfect, but God gives them to us for our good.
3. Be an agent of reconciliation.
The election season may be over, but the fallout remains. The division and anger stoked in the months leading up to the election hasn’t gone away. In many cases, it has become more entrenched.
Thus some of us are giddy about the Trump administration. Others dread it. And no matter which side we find ourselves, we are tempted to despise the other. We view them with suspicion, anger and self-righteousness.
Christians, God has given us the important task of being ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). God calls us to reconcile people’s relationship with God by proclaiming the good news of the gospel. In addition, he calls us to play a role in reconciling people’s relationships with each other.
How can you help bring about this reconciliation? Here’s a simple place to start: Find someone who voted differently than you — not a nameless Twitter handle or an account on Facebook, but a real, flesh-and-blood human being. Talk with them. Invite them to share how they feel about the new President, and ask them why.
If you’re excited about President Trump, talk to someone who’s not. If you dread the new administration, talk to someone who’s looking forward to it.
This conversation may not change your opinions. But, hopefully, you’ll better understand your neighbor. More importantly, you will have taken a small step that demonstrates that you don’t just care about your neighbor’s political views, you care about them as a person.
The election’s wounds and divisions won’t heal themselves. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Bring the love of Christ to bear on your neighbor.
4. Get involved.
For many of us, our political engagement will end after the inauguration. We’ll ignore the political realm until the next Presidential election rolls around. Or, we’ll limit our political engagement to watching news channels, reading political spinsters and debating on social media.
Yet if we really believe that politics is important, then our political engagement must continue after the inauguration — and it must extend beyond the computer screen or the television remote. Instead of simply talking about politics, we should get involved by serving our community.
So volunteer at your local elementary school. Attend the next city council meeting. Read your local news. And be a positive agent of change in your community. Your local issues are just as important as national concerns, and as a Christian, you have a unique voice to share. You can play an active role in reweaving the social fabric that was torn by the 2016 election.
Don’t let your political engagement end after the inauguration. Bring your faith to bear on your community, and seek the good of your city.
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Image Credit: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons