The Church's Opportunity: A New Story To Tell

As we all know, Donald Trump, a man who is deeply loved by God even more than he probably knows, was elected President of the United States last night. I am deeply saddened by this and have been struggling in lament all day. I am in fear for my brothers and sisters of color, the Hispanic community, the LGBTQI+ community, Muslim community, women, and, sadly, anybody who does not share the color of my skin or my gender identity. I have heard and read about incidents locally and nationally about bullying, harassment and even vandalism that go alongside with messages of "Vote Trump" or "Trump 2016." This is disturbing that a political candidate has had this type of impact. As far as I have been aware, no presidential candidate has ever had this type of effect in our country. While the church should pray for our elected officials and for a peaceful transition, it is even more crucial for us to pray for any group who is living in fear and oppression.

However, even though I am in fear, I am not going to be ruled by fear. This post is not going to be about fear. It's not going to be about politics, either. This is bigger and wider than politics. Instead, it is going to be about the incredibly opportunity we now have as people who follow Jesus to truly be the incarnational presence of Jesus in a country where about half of the nation supports a man who has shown the exact opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.

The American church now has a chance to be as counter-cultural as it has ever been. Christianity has always been comfortable in America. Even when people have disagreed with Christian beliefs, the comfort of living the Christian life has never been threatened. I don't think that's the case anymore. Christianity in it's truest form is about welcoming the stranger (AKA immigrant), orphan and widow and not closing our door on people because their customs are different from ours. It is about following a suffering messiah and not a violent victor brandishing a bloody sword. It is about putting the least of these first and dignifying the people who our world finds remarkably undignified.

Our country looks at Christianity as a fraud because we have supported--and are largely responsible--for putting a man in the highest office who has publicly represented many things that our Scriptures call us to stand against.

When our country builds a wall to keep the vulnerable out, we bring a bulldozer. When our country says that some lives matter more than others, we lay down our own life for the people they say don't matter. When our country wants to be a winner at the expense of others, we lose our worldly selves and save our souls with those others. God is giving the American church to be a prophetic voice. A voice that calls out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. We prepare the way of God by mourning with those who mourn and by standing in solidarity with those who are outcast and downtrodden. We get to be the presence of Jesus Christ now more than ever before. We will be the presence of Jesus because we will no longer be shackled by the confines of cultural comforts.

There will be those who stand against us, and that can be Good News. When the people who are following the way of Jesus have to take a stand, the Gospel grows. Persecution grows the church of Jesus Christ. We are living in a time where about half of the country will strongly disagree with the church trying to be the church. That is why we're called to be faithful to God and not humankind. This is our opportunity to show that our faith truly means something to us. That despite the national rhetoric standing firm in exclusivity, we offer radical inclusion that is rooted in faithfulness to a God who welcomes every tribe, nation and tongue as equals.

We are the people of God. We are the ones who welcome the stranger, affirm the dignity of all people because all people are created in the image of God, and we are the ones called to transform a broken world. That's always been our mission, and it always will be. Now that mission just comes into conflict with our national values. We are now living in foreign territory. We are a stranger in a strange land. So be it. We are the people of God, and God is with us and nothing the world throws at us can overcome that.