What we are saying says a lot about us. It also says a lot about what we think of others, where we think our judgements lie, and what we expect of our future because of what we believe it will be.
If you scour the internet right now, it won't take but a moment and I will wait here until you come back, just google "Trump" and see what pops up. Most of it will be the doom-and-gloom that we have become accustomed to in our daily media. We are told many things about him. Things that are both true and things that are false. Things that make us believe that we are witnessing the second coming of the anti-Christ, the fulfillment of Revelation 13, or the complete denial of all goodness, grace, or humanity.
Now I say this with the above image in mind. We have the Scottish believing that all that has ever been bad in the world has come to us here in America. The Twilight Zone, alternative history, nightmarish, duped electorate, despair, flawed, and horrors. All words that mean something, that tell a story of a horrible existence, of anguish and turmoil as certain as the sun rising or setting. What it says is that, no matter how much protest and hardship that comes, we are screwed.
There are beloved people in my life who have found themselves speaking their minds on this man who has been elected president, and I find myself (as a pastor) at a crossroads. A crossroads that causes me to fear. Fear not of a president, of a Congress, of a cabinet or electorate. I am not afraid of what might or might not happen over the next four years because I know that we have survived so much in our lives and will continue to dig ourselves out of all sorts of terrible travails that not even a president can do what we think he can do to us.
My fear is based on the manner in which we decide all judgements and matters now without any real discovery of the person or a living of the future except for what people tell us we need to believe. We want to hate him because of the way in which he speaks, the way in which he tweets, the people we believe he surrounds himself with, and all that the media tells us is wrong. Maybe we should be scared, if it is all true. (Although, based on the election results, the media has been lying to us for years.)
But I tweeted something else entirely the other day:
Trump does not stand a chance. Trump could appoint a cabinet full of all the right people, all the right faces, all the right experience. Trump could bring peace to the Middle East, win the Nobel Peace Prize, stop ISIS, destroy unemployment, and bring climate change to an end, and we would do everything in our power to make sure he gets none of the credit. Trump could become the worst president ever, or the best president since Lincoln or Jefferson, and he does not have a chance to ever be anything but what we have made him out to be.
This is not a good thing, just if you are wondering. It is not a good thing because it tells us everything about the brokenness of our political system. It tells us everything about our celebrity culture and how it has invaded even our government. It tells us everything about how we believe that all our lives are wrapped up in what our government does or says to us. What our government represents, instead of what we represent.
As a Christian pastor I live in a world where backing a politician is not my forte. It can be dangerous because they often fail us. Those politicians. It goes the same for pastors, too. I'm sure I will fail you in many ways. Even writing what I am writing. Yet I am left to ponder the things that most come to mind at this time in our history. Meditating especially on what Christ has spoken to us for centuries now.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:14-16
We like that one. We like to use it as a law to tell us how we are supposed to live. We especially like to use it to get others to behave in a way we like because we have a particular view of what the light is supposed to look like.
I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:20
This one we don't like because it can tell us how we don't live any where close to this demand. Our righteousness is based almost exclusively on what we think of a Pharisee, how we despise them, and we become distraught to think we are having to be someone beyond what a strict believer in God may hold true.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. - Matthew 5:21-22
Wow. That's harsh Jesus. Not to mention that all this time of belittling Trump causes me to put to death Trump with words. We tend to forget this one. This is where the surpassing righteousness of the Pharisee is put into perspective.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. - Matthew 5:38-42
Now this is not fair. It defeats our tendency to want to fight evil. We want to protest, to stand up for our values and destroy anything indecent. But it seems to be something else, something different than what we like. We pick part of it, that whole eye-for-an-eye-thing, but what happens if we take this portion of the Sermon on the Mount and apply it to our statements we make about the other side? How does this fit into how we are to defend ourselves?
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. - Matthew 5:43-48
And there it is. The conundrum. The faults by which we destroy ourselves in our own inability to give any benefit of the doubt because we wish to have the enemy. We want the antagonist. We need to have someone to fight against or else. Yet, God says that he gives unto us all things, regardless. The things we love to hate, the people, the bad people in our eyes. Given to us, not to hate, but to love as God has loved.
If Trump is our enemy, then where does that leave us as those called to love? If we believe ourselves to be less judgmental, to be tolerant, to be those who wish to love the underdog, the one who is an outsider, what does that make of Donald Trump?
Our world has made him the ultimate outsider. The ultimate underdog. We give him not a single chance in hell to do anything right, to do anything good. We push him to the most ultimate point of death in our eyes. We would rather that he be dead than be president, but that is not good for him. It destroys any hope we have for progress.
It is even worse for us. It becomes the focus of our own tragic tale. It becomes the perfect witness to how corrupt and sinful we are because we have decided that we are, and will always be, better than him. All this charade does is say to you and to me - you are the judge of righteousness, which is not good. Because we are so often wrong, and could we be wrong now? If we continue down this road, could we ever know?