I woke up this morning to the news I'd anticipated to hear when I went to bed last night: Donald Trump is the President Elect and will be the 45th President of the United States.
Most of you know that I have not been a Trump supporter. I am still not a fan of him, but I will respect the office of President and pray for him as my leader, along with all of the rest of our elected officials.
I know a lot of fellow Christians--people who love and serve Jesus and their neighbor--who voted for Trump. And I know a lot of fellow Christians--people who love and serve Jesus and their neighbor--who voted against Trump. There will undoubtedly be some discomfort as we move forward as one family in Christ knowing that we have desired differing outcomes from this election. But here are my thoughts as we move forward as American Christians.
1. We must consider our neighbor as better than ourselves and seek their welfare (Philippians 2). Many Christians voted in an act to preserve our own religious liberty in regard to freedom in disagreeing with same-sex marriage. We have to acknowledge, though, that many people of other religions feel threatened by President Elect Trump's language in the days and months leading up to the election. If we have our religious freedom secured (or even if we don't, honestly), we need to seek the religious freedom of our fellow Americans who view things differently than we do. It is called living in a pluralistic society, and it is vital the success of the democratic experiment. It is specifically very important that we as Christians speak out against religious suppression, particularly for our peaceful Muslim neighbors. That is one way we can tangibly love our neighbors as ourselves.
2. We must make racial reconciliation a priority in our lives, as part of our Christian witness (Galatians 3:28, Romans 10:12). People of earnest faith and of all races voted on both majority sides of this election. However, it cannot be denied that there was a heightened level of racial animosity in the months leading up to our national decision of yesterday. With a Trump presidency, there are many minorities in our country who do not feel protected. The white supremacist movement has felt emboldened in a fresh way in 2016, and we cannot let their voices be louder than ours in protecting the dignity and safety of our fellow Americans who are in the minority races.
3. We must be a people of the Scripture, who take the Bible seriously, particularly on immigration and serving the poor (Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5). God has consistently revealed himself to us through the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, as a God passionate about the immigrant and the poor. We must embrace the vision of hospitality as the people of God, which is strongly inclusive of immigrants. We must do this wisely and not foolishly, but we cannot reject the immigrant and refuse to help our fellow humans who are escaping the horrors of war, bloodshed, and religious persecution. Let's do it legally and let's do it extravagantly, for we are a people called to welcome others just as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7). We must also care for the poor of our own country and seek their good, both through personal generosity and legislation that helps them to thrive.
4. We must never grow weary of fighting for the weak in our society--the unborn, the disabled, the elderly, and the marginalized (Psalm 82:3-4). Even with President Trump's promises to appoint pro-life judges, we cannot give up the work of fighting for the lives of the unborn at the legislative or neighborhood level. Ours is a work of hospitality, providing care for mothers and their children, joyfully received or unexpected and anxious (see my piece on Christian hospitality and the abortion industry). The unborn deserve our efforts to preserve their lives because they are created in the image of God and are the weakest of our society. The disabled also need us to be their champions. We must listen to their voices and work with them for their good. The elderly as of inestimable value in a society tempted with the trappings of eternal youth--the worship of ability and the beauty of the flesh. We must speak up for them and care for them because they are our fathers and our mothers. We must embrace those who are not like us and are therefore cast aside and ignored. We are a people of hospitality and action. Everyone will know we are Christians by our love for the weakest in our society. We cannot rest thinking that the Supreme Court or a Republican president or a Republican Congress will do the work of caring for these beloved people instead of us. As St. John Paul said, "The distinctive mark of the Christian, today more than ever, must be love for the poor, the weak, the suffering."
Practically, what can we do?
Be a good neighbor. This is for your own neighborhood, but also all the people around you. The Spanish word for neighbor is "projimo"--it comes from the same root as the word "approximate," which means 'near.' Be a good neighbor to the people near you--in your home, in the grocery store, on the street, across town. Start conversations with people different than you. Invite them into your home. Cook them a meal. Ask them what they are hopeful for; ask them what they are afraid of. And respond with kindness and concern to the needs and desires they communicate.
Pray for our country. We are very divided right now, by politics, by race, by religion, by wealth. Pray that as Christians we will love each person we meet with the love of Jesus. Pray that we have the bravery to stand up against oppression. Pray that we will not grow complacent if our preferred candidate has won. Pray that we will not grow bitter if our preferred candidate has lost.
Share this post, or something like it. Make a vocal commitment to being a Christian who loves and serves and speaks out for the weak, the poor, the immigrant, the elderly, the unborn, the Muslim, the Arab. Get involved in your community.
Act. Let them know us by our love, which consists of both affection and action. In the words of Catholic social activist Dorothy Day, As we come to know the seriousness of the situation, the war, the racism, the poverty in our world, we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather, it's a question of living one's life in a drastically different way."
Peace to you all, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.