On Friday morning I woke up to a ton of texts and notifications. Sometimes my friends don’t sleep and I wake up to random conversations had by the group overnight, but this time was different. All of my group chats were buzzing.
Then I saw the news, Trump has tested positive for Covid-19. I smiled. It was at that moment I was immediately convicted. Regardless of what I think of him, I shouldn’t rejoice in his suffering. Even though I believe he has rejoiced in and caused the suffering of many. I am reminded as Christians, we are supposed to be different. That isn’t easy to write.
I want all of my inner petty to come out and proverbially kick him while he’s down. I want to laugh at the result of his foolish behavior. But this is more important than him, it’s about how we treat those we don’t like and disagree with.
Proverbs 24:17 quickly rushed to my mind:
Don’t gloat when your enemy falls,
and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,
or the Lord will see, be displeased,
and turn his wrath away from him.
So did the words of Jesus at the end of Matthew 5:
“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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus telling us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us doesn’t mean they are above criticism. Esau McCauley points out in his new book, Jesus was critical of the leadership of his day, at one point referring to Herod as a fox (and not in a good way). Esau then goes on to say “Prayer for leaders and criticism of their practices are not mutually exclusive ideas. Both have biblical warrant in the same letter.”
Who we love
Disagreement is natural in life. Disliking people is natural. How we treat those we disagree with and dislike is what matters. I think we can all agree, last week’s debate was a dumpster fire. But it was telling. Watching Trump and Biden go back and forth was like watching the comments section of any controversial topic come to life.
The way we argue today is to label the other side evil. We don’t engage with evil. In fact we are well within our rights to stamp it out in the harshest way possible because evil has no right to a place in our lives. The problem is we are labeling people and not their positions evil and therefore feel justified treating them like human garbage.
Every week we see another public figure canceled (rightly or not) for some offense. What ensues is just tragic. I have seen people attack a person’s children because they were upset with a position they held or something they did. The saddest part is that this is just as common amongst the Church as it is the world.
Jesus calls us to be a sanctified people set apart from the ways of the world. We are told to be in it but not of it, yet when our social media habits and public discourse is examined, we look just like everyone else.
We are just as, if not more, insular and tribal as the world around us. Every time a prominent ministry leader falls, we see people from the other side of the aisle dogpiling on their shame. This is not how it should be. Jesus said if we just love those we agree with and are like us, then we are no different than the sinners of his day.
What do you think?
I’m not telling you to love Trump or agree with him, I surely don’t. But I am challenging you to question your witness in this world. I am challenging you to check the condition of your heart. Think about the message we send when we hate as the world does and love as they do. How does Jesus actually make us different?
Charlie Dates said in his sermon on Sunday that we have a generation of people that know how to protest but don’t know how to pray. Considering that the majority of the protests are not being led and organized by us, that begs the question, who is leading whom?
I expect push back on this one so please send me your thoughts. I don’t have all of the answers nor am I an authoritative figure on this subject. What I do know is when I saw the news Friday morning, my heart went to a wicked place. Regardless of what that man has done the last 4 years, that posture of my heart is not one I can find peace in.