Trump’s Election Taught Me Something

(A Facebook Post.)

As a Lutheran, namely Christian, pastor, the election of Donald J. Trump has had me pondering a few things here and there.

As someone who takes very seriously the duty Christians have when it comes to choosing candidates who are most closely aligned with the revealed will of God given by His holy Word—whether the candidates be Christian or not—it never would have occurred to me to vote for Donald Trump. At the time of the primaries, nearly everything about him, and yet mostly his past positions on particular issues of great importance to the Christian church, suggested anything but a man who was seeking to serve in the highest office for the benefit of the nation and her citizens. With this, I weighed my vote against the Bible and what God says actually matters and I chose the person I thought would be the better candidate.

A quick thought on this.

During that time, the exchanges amongst supporters got pretty heated. I remember it well. One of the regularly wielded comments used by certain folks in the various camps toward guys like me was that Christians weren’t to be going to the booths to elect a pastor, but a president. I often thought that was a rather unfair determination made against Biblically minded voters. It revealed a certain level of ignorance regarding the Bible and just what it means to Christians seeking to be faithful to it as the sole source for life, faith, and practice in this world. As I said, many Christians were looking for the one candidate who most closely aligned with the Word of God. They were set upon choosing a man for the office who stood in the right places on such issues as Life and Marriage and Religious Liberty. Christian or not, it didn’t matter. The biblically minded voter only wanted to be faithful to God, and by that faithfulness, to choose someone who actually accepted Natural Law for what it is, someone who stood on objective truth and would work to strengthen what was right while laboring to oppose and dismantle what was wrong. While considering whom to choose, they considered the candidates’ histories in these very important issues. I did the same, and in the midst of the primaries, Donald J. Trump just didn’t match up.

Still, the candidate I chose to support didn’t win the nomination. Donald J. Trump did. And ultimately he won the presidency.

I suppose as I ponder this, it is important in two ways. First, it reminds me that even as I have access to the revealed will of God in the Bible, I shouldn’t forget that His hidden will remains in play. And by no means should I let myself get too flustered when the hidden will lands on my expectations. The revealed and hidden wills of God are not disjointed. They both come from a singular will. As far as the hidden will, I’m not called to try to fathom or discern it, but rather to keep with His revealed will. It’s there that He continues to set a steady and certain course for knowing and remembering that His desire is that all would be saved and that in all things—even moments that may not make all that much sense or appear to be counter-intuitive to what His revealed will suggests—He is at work for the good of His people.

Second, I am reminded that the future will ever remain in God’s possession. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of the apathetic clergymen who teach their people to completely ignore the public square and that voting doesn’t matter because in the end, God will do whatever God is going to do. That’s foolishness. And honestly, it’s men like that who ought to listen very carefully when God speaks through the prophet Hosea, declaring: “For with you is my contention, O priest… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (4:4,6). Saying so crassly that these things don’t matter and that God will do whatever He wants is the same as stripping away the believer’s confidence in the midst of prayer—that one’s prayers are of no consequence because God already knows what the petitioner is going to ask before he asks it and already knows in the midst of eternity His response. God desires for Christians to engage, but not necessarily because they think that by doing so they can change the future. That’s not their ultimate goal. In a way, the goal of their effort is really something that happens in the here and now, but it does so as it meets with the more important and eternal future.

They simply want to be faithful to God and His holy will for the glory of Christ and the salvation of others. That’s it.

Such faithfulness comes from another sphere altogether. It is implanted by the Holy Spirit and clings to the Word of God, which is to say that when Christians don’t know what’s going on, the Holy Spirit bids and moves them to go to what they do know: the revealed will of God in the Bible. It is there that Christians are urged to engage in this world. It’s there that Christians can consider the culture, context, and issues and then measure the candidates against one another in order to choose in faithfulness.

In the end, Donald J. Trump was the candidate who emerged from God’s hidden will, and by the hopeful faithfulness that accepts these things, I’m not so bothered. I sought faithfulness to God all the while knowing that God would be faithful to me, no matter what the result might be. From a mortal perspective, I say this with somewhat of a sigh of relief. It was a lot harder to choke down God’s purposes for allowing Obama to be our president. But in the case of Trump, as a president, he really is proving to be only a splinter of what I expected in concern, and he’s doing nearly everything I was hoping of the candidate I supported in the primaries.

As I said, as a pastor, the election of Donald J. Trump has had me pondering a few things. These things are, simply, to seek faithfulness to Christ and His Word when choosing candidates (and encouraging others in that same faithfulness), and then to relax and take a chill pill until the curtain on God’s hidden will in the matter is pulled back, knowing that whatever He allows will not be for the ultimate reign of evil, but for the good of those who love Him.

In my case, of course, the chill pill comes in the form of a nice single malt whisky from Scotland.