Politics and Religion

In the 10 days since the inauguration, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a Christian here and now. Although Trump received strong support from evangelical Christians, and some of his edicts actively favor Christians or traditional Christan causes, I’m one of those believers who cannot support this administration or its policies. This stems from my fundamental understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

The simplest version of Christian religion is “believe in Jesus and you won’t burn in hell forever.” On par with this shallow brief system is its collary, “believe in Jesus and he will give you good things/protect you from bad things.” Both of these are the “Jesus as lucky rabbit’s foot” philosophy. This tends to spawn the kind of religion that demands lots of works to earn the desired reward, while practicioners tend to have no tolerance for different views. They know the right way, and they are going to force the rest of us into their way.

That’s the kind of religion that supports Trump.

My understanding of what it means to follow Christ is radically different from that. My faith looks like this:

  • I know that I’m broken in many ways, and that I cannot fix myself. Therefore, I’m in no position to judge other people’s choices. Jesus said to clean up my own heart before telling others what to do.
  • Christ is the only perfect person who ever lived, and he voluntarily sacrificed Himself to fix my brokenness before God.
  • Jesus called his followers to care for the most marginalized people in society, and to not count the cost of helping. He said to care for widows and orphans. He said that if someone asked for your shirt, to give him your coat, too; if they demanded you go a mile with them, you go two voluntarily; if someone hits you once, don’t fight back of he goes to hit you again. 
  • By being in relationship with Christ, I slowly become more like Him — never perfect, but less broken, with my heart and priorities more aligned with His. I slowly start to see myself and my own well-being as less important than caring for others, which is ultimately what Jesus did.

This is fundamentally opposite of everything Trump is doing so far. 

Trump espouses looking out for ourselves first, to the likely detriment of ourselves and the world; the Jesus I know put the needy first, even when it hurt.

 Trump espouses proactively judging and condemning people without evidence to protect ourselves; Jesus gave the worst, most loathed people in society a chance. 

Trump espouses sacrificing the open, accepting, melting pot society we cherish for a regime that favors a select few; Jesus brought together Jews and Gentiles, sinners and religious leaders into one society where “everyone had everything in common” and called for this message to go out to everyone everywhere.

Trump espouses stripping the natural world for resources without regard to the harm it may do; Jesus called us to be faithful stewards of a world that isn’t ultimately ours.

I could go on. But the point I’m trying to make is that, almost at every turn, Trump is doing the opposite of what the Jesus I know would do. I’m not sure yet what my response will be, beyond praying fervently; but I know that Jesus would not have passively stood by and let helpless, innocent people come to harm. If I really am to be a “little Christ,” then neither can I.

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