Former president Donald Trump declared guilty

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Former president Donald Trump declared guilty

May 30, 2024 -

Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Donald J. Trump has been convicted in his hush-money Manhattan trial. He is the first former American president to be found guilty of a crime.

The presiding judge, Justice Juan Merchan, now faces the task of sentencing Mr. Trump. A prison sentence is considered unlikely; penalties could range from a fine to probation. Mr. Trump is also certain to appeal, a process that could take months or years to resolve.

As Time notes, the judge’s decisions will “reverberate across the political landscape and, depending on the timing, could greatly affect the election in November.”

We will know much more about this verdict over coming days. Since our nonpartisan ministry offers biblical responses to cultural issues, I will not react politically or personally to today’s announcement.

Rather, I want to think with you about some cultural ramifications of the jury’s decision in the light of biblical truth.

“The first and only object of good government”

King David testified, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses” (Psalm 20:7a). “Chariots and horses” were the military instruments of the day, akin to tanks and fighter jets today. By contrast, David testified, “We trust in the name of the LORD our God” (v. 7b). His reasoning was simple and persuasive: “They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (v. 8).

He was right: “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue” (Psalm 33:16–17). The prophet warned: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!” (Isaiah 31:1).

Politics are vitally important, of course. The massive issues of our day, from the war in Gaza to global hotspots like Taiwan, North Korea, Ukraine, and Iran, are all manifestly political in nature.

At the same time, politics are a means to larger ends. Thomas Jefferson was adamant: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” C. S. Lewis agreed, writing in Mere Christianity: “It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life.”

“Is not human life on earth a time of testing?”

Here’s the problem: no matter who is president and what party controls our government, you and I can never be truly happy in this fallen world. St. Augustine confessed, “In adverse circumstances I long for prosperity, and in times of prosperity I dread adversity.”

He therefore asked, “Is not human life on earth a time of testing without respite?” And he prayed:

“On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rest all my hope.”

Chuck Colson wisely reminded us that salvation will not arrive on Air Force One. This is why we “eagerly wait for the Savior” (Philippians 3:20 NKJV) whose return is “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). On that day we will say, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).

In the meantime, Jesus taught us, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). At the same time, he commissioned us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) as we “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

“Bound by gold chains about the feet of God”

The balance is crucial: “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), but we are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” in this world (2 Corinthians 5:20). One way to conjoin our trust in God as our only King with engagement in the politics of our day is to pray to the former for his blessing on the latter.

Offering “thoughts and prayers” in times of crisis is much criticized in our secularized culture, but the Apostle Paul disagreed, imploring the Corinthians, “You also must help us by prayer” (2 Corinthians 1:11). If the greatest theologian and missionary in Christian history needed the intercession of one of the most troubled and immature churches in the New Testament, God can use your prayers and mine to change our nation today (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote:

More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend?

For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

So, let me ask:

  • Have you prayed for our nation in this historic and divisive hour?
  • Have you prayed for our leaders as commanded by Scripture (1 Timothy 2:2)?
  • Have you prayed for God to redeem these disruptive days by using them to show America our need of his wisdom, forgiveness, and healing grace?
  • Have you asked him to use your intercession and witness as the salt and light we so desperately need?

Why not right now?

 

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