Mark Galli is editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded in 1956 by Billy Graham. He generated global headlines over the weekend with an editorial titled “Trump Should Be Removed from Office.”
Responding to testimony given during the House impeachment hearings, Galli claims that the president acted with Ukraine in a manner that “is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.” He believes that the president should be removed either by the Senate or by popular vote during the next election.
In response, nearly two hundred evangelical leaders condemned Galli’s editorial and stated that he “offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations.”
Five ways evangelicals view the president
This controversy points to the fact that evangelicals are anything but monolithic with regard to President Trump. Seen on a spectrum, some:
- View him as God’s anointed leader for our time.
- Do not view him through such a lens but consider his personality to be essential for defending our nation in these days.
- Support him for his positions on life, religious liberty, Israel, and other moral issues.
- Supported him in light of his judicial appointments and moral positions but now believe, in light of recent Supreme Court confirmations, that his leadership is more damaging than helpful
- Have never believed that he should be president, citing either his personal character, public statements, and/or moral positions.
One fact upon which we should all agree is that no one speaks for all evangelicals or for all Christians. We should hold our position on this and other divisive issues sincerely and confidently, but with humility that respects others as well.
This Christmas week, we’re asking what Christmas can teach our post-Christian culture about Christ. Yesterday we focused on the power of Christmas; today we’ll consider its antonym: the humility of Christmas.
How different the story could have been
Jesus was the only baby in history who chose his parents.
The Son of God could have chosen to be born to the Chief Priest and his family, where he would have grown up in the splendor of the temple and its traditions. He could have been the son of a Pharisee and grown up with all the respect afforded these venerated spiritual heroes.
But he chose to be born to a peasant teenage girl from a town so small that it is not named a single time in the Old Testament or in the extensive histories of Josephus. The place where he was born is marked with grandeur and majesty today, but it was not so then. It was a simple cave where animals were kept. His first crib was not made of wood—it was a stone feeding trough.
He chose to base his ministry in Capernaum, a small fishing town with a population of 1,500 on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. He could have built a megachurch there; his first days of public ministry drew crowds from across the entire region to hear him and to be helped by him. But he chose to go to the other towns and villages instead (Mark 1:38).
Since he came to die for our sins, he could have arranged prophetic history so he would be executed by stoning by his own Jewish people. Instead, he chose to be crucified, the most humiliating, horrific form of torture ever devised.
Before his death, he could have arranged to be buried in a magnificent grave that would be celebrated today like the tombs of Muhammad and Lenin. But he was buried in a friend’s grave so anonymous that no one today is positive of its location.
The choice of Christmas
Here’s the point to remember: all of this was his choice.
One of the earliest hymns in Christian history tells the story: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5–8).
Christmas began when Jesus voluntarily gave up his hold on his throne: he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (v. 6). Instead, he took “the form of a servant.” “Form” translates morphe, unchanging essence. That’s why he washed his disciples’ feet, and fed the five thousand, and touched the lepers, and forgave us from the cross. He chose to become a servant, for us.
How would he serve? He was “born in the likeness of men.” Note that he was “born”—he chose to come to earth not as an adult but as a helpless, defenseless baby. Then he “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” He chose to die in the cruelest manner possible for each of us.
And every step from crown to cross was his humble choice.
The best advice I ever received
What does the humility of Christmas mean for us this season?
One: We should love others as God loves us.
If you choose to love those who disagree with you about the president or other political issues, to love friends and family members amid all the demands of this season, to look for ways to love and serve as Jesus loves and serves you, your life will make a dramatic and demonstrable difference in the lives of others.
Richard Stearns, the former CEO of World Vision, notes: “The beautiful simplicity of our faith is that it distills down to the exact same bottom line for both the brilliant theologian and the five-year-old child: love God and love each other—period.”
Two: We should love ourselves as God loves us.
Our culture judges us by how we look, what we have, where we live, and what we buy. It will measure this Christmas by what we spent and what we gave.
This week, take time every day to remember that Jesus chose to be born for you. He chose to live and to die and rise again for you. He would do it all over again, just for you.
The best advice I ever received came from my youth minister when I was in high school: always remember the source of your personal worth.