WE DIDN’T PUT OUT THE FLAMES

How many of you* have heard and/or spoken about how bad the current administration has been for the last seven years? Though you might not hear about it much from the pulpit, it’s palpably in the atmosphere of most congregations. You’ve likely been a part of a conversation where those in the government were being slammed for their failures, incompetencies, and betrayals. The fact is many of us have been left with a bitter taste in our mouth and a cold heart because of the path our country has trod the last several years.

To illustrate the point: when was the last time you heard a prayer for government officials (Scripture commands us to pray such prayers by the way – 1 Timothy 2:1-2)? If it was recently, was the content and tone of the prayer positive or negative? Did it include praise and thanksgiving to God for those he raised up and put in power? Did it encourage the good works of government or only condemn the failures of the same? Did it mention particular officials by name or did it paint with a broad brush?

A sad reality I see today is not that many in the church are supporting Donald Trump (as sad as that is), but that we didn’t see it coming. I’m inclined to say the church was complicit in creating the environment from which Trump has emerged. He has not, after all, created the firestorm that is his support; he’s only stoked the flames that were already ablaze. And I’m afraid that we didn’t do much to put them out.

Given our attitude towards the government and the way we talk and pray (or fail to pray) about it, are we really surprised that so many of our people have latched on to Trump’s message and followed him? After seven years of bad-mouthing the government, do we have the moral footing to be upset about a candidate who does the same? I’m not saying that I think it’s a good idea to support Trump; nor am I suggesting that all criticism, protest, or speaking out against the government is wrong. But let’s be real, is it possible that we, the church, unnecessarily contributed to the political ash heap out of which Trump has arisen as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination? It’s something worth thinking about.

*Let me be clear and say that as I write about the church in this context, I realize that some within the church are Democrats, some support President Obama, and some may not be quite so frustrated with the last seven years of our nation’s history. I don’t want to draw party lines through the church. However, I come from a conservative, mainly Republican, right wing sort of sect of the church; and therefore, I’m speaking primarily to and about them.

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