Last year when I had to walk youth through some difficult moments, I grabbed a dry-erase marker and created three columns… what we know, what we feel, and what we say we believe (and must remind ourselves in hard times). As the inauguration looms, I find myself employing the same strategy for the future that looms before us.
What I know: America’s electoral college elected a man whose lifetime has been filled with attempts to gain wealth, garner fame (for good or ill), and protect his pride at the expense of everyone else. While I can honor my neighbor’s difference of opinion and experience, I will not honor a man whose legacy already stands in opposition to the sovereignty of God, the divine image in all people, and the stewardship of creation. I will give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but I will not give any affirmation in word or deed to one who celebrates greed and tramples human worth.
What I feel: When I actually allow myself to truly imagine our future, the feeling is entirely fear. Posturing power heavily over foreign power only incites posturing power in return. Denigrating and dismissive attitudes towards oppressed groups only plants seeds for violence (present and future). Living in hyperbole leads us to not know one another. Anyone who separates us into opposing sides does not care for the whole.
What I (remind myself that I profess to) believe: Though tragedy may come and may be real among us (the consequence of Power, Greed, and Hate), I worship a God who breaks illusions (like Power, Greed, and Hate’s actual power over our creation’s ultimate story) with the truth of Love’s power, of Resurrection’s reality, of Hope’s endurance.
Trump is not the first to challenge the limits of one man’s reach. He is not the first to act out of an insatiable yearning for more to conquest, to control, and to hoard over others. He is not the first to use fear and greed to sway crowds to disregard their neighbor and their God. He is not the first and he will not be the last.
But he cannot defeat God. He cannot cause God to shudder and cower in a corner. God may mourn Trump’s dangerous power as God hears the cries of the hurting, but God will do what God always does – walk straight into the mess with a Love that flips tables and forgives repentant hearts.
I believe in a God whose victory over evil is real and comes most powerfully and profoundly through Jesus Christ – the one who joined humanity in its fear, who banished the separation we feel by facing the cross with pain and purpose, and who sanctified the human practices of compassion, humility, and protest.
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – the willing sacrificial gift of God that comes in the personhood of One who walks side by side towards Fear to the glory of God.
For all these reasons, I refuse to let Trump make me hate my neighbor. I refuse to give into the fear that acknowledges any supreme power in a greedy man. I refuse to believe that this tragedy is one whose arc is beyond God’s presence, power, and people to enter into and act.
When the “powerful” flex their muscles and the crowds wonder where they must stand to survive, I pause and give thanks to the God whose resurrection I must not understand, but only trust.