Donald Trump won Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina last night. And Bernie Sanders won Missouri, delaying Hillary Clinton’s march to the nomination.
Six months ago, who would have imagined either outcome?
I attribute Donald Trump’s success to five beliefs: (1) immigration and foreign trade are costing us jobs; (2) Muslims hate and threaten us; (3) the religious liberty of Christians is in peril; (4) President Obama is a weak leader who doesn’t believe in American greatness; (5) politicians have failed us. Trump’s supporters view him as a strong, non-political leader who will build a wall against immigrants and keep Muslims out of America while renegotiating foreign trade and guaranteeing religious liberty for Christians.
I attribute Bernie Sanders’s success to two beliefs: (1) the “one percent” are ruining our economy for the rest of us; (2) America should increase the government’s role in providing health care, education, and social services. When George Stephanopoulos recently asked Sanders if he wants to turn America into Denmark or Sweden, the senator replied, “And what’s wrong with that?“
These political narratives and the circumstances that produced them have created the most polarized political climate America has seen in decades. How would Scripture advise God’s people to respond to these strident, chaotic days?
One: Preserve your witness.
Guard your words: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). We are to “show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2), especially our leaders (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:17). Christians are to speak the truth, but in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Two: Fulfill your call.
I am convinced that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call. New York Times columnist David Brooks suggests four questions we should ask about our calling: (1) Is this problem big enough? (2) Am I uniquely positioned to serve? (3) Has God or nature thrust this problem into my path? (4) Does it keep me awake at night? We need more leaders like Joseph and Moses. How does God want you to engage in public service, to his glory and our good?
Three: Keep the faith.
Whoever becomes president, God is still King. He is not subject to our politics. He declares: “At the set time that I appoint, I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars” (Psalm 75:2–3). Job was right in confessing to our Lord, “No purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
So preserve your witness, fulfill your call, and keep the faith. Our country needs Christians to be salt and light, more than ever. G. K. Chesterton: “We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”