Even if I disagree with President Trump, I am a fan of life.
|Kurt Willems||Oct 2|| 18||1|
About ten minutes ago, my wife zipped me a text of a screenshot. This is what it looked like:
I’m not a fan of the president, but I am a fan of life.
But moments like this test me. I’ve had multiple thoughts about this Tweet:
1) What if he’s lying to gain some weird political momentum?
Like the beast in Revelation who has a head wound and comes back to ‘ooooh and awe’ the masses after a miraculous recovery (Rev. 13:3), could this be an opportunity for the President Trump to strategically “get this illness” and then get better and come back stronger? (To be clear: I’m not even trying to hint that the President is the antichrist or beast of Revelation but giving a metaphor, only. I’ve written and spoken on this topic quite a bit, and it is well known that I would hold that such a figure existed in the first century — Nero-Domitian-Roman Empire.)
I don’t know.
But I want to be honest with you, it was my first thought.
2) Maybe he will have a bad case. Not bad enough to kill him, but bad enough to make him sick to the point where he has a metaphorical “come to Jesus” moment and repents of some of his nonchalant posture towards the disease and towards marginalized people.
Here’s the thing. While this may be how I feel at one level, on a deeper level, I do not want him and/or the First Lady to suffer. As a follower of Jesus I’m called to “love [my] enemies” and to “pray for those who harrass…” (Matthew 5).
I truly want ANYONE infected with COVID-19 to build antibodies without moving from an irritating illness to suffering. So, even though his policies differ drastically from the sorts of things that bring human flourishing for the most vulnerable among us, and even though his rhetoric fans the flames of systemic and individual pain for marginalized persons, I do not long for “eye for eye” justice. I long for a change of his heart, mind, and actions.
3) Maybe I should pray for him.
And this is where I will land. I. Will. Pray.
Because it is entirely possible to not be a fan of the President and to desire God’s best for him.
It is entirely possible to to not be a fan of his words and actions and to still try to empathize with him.
It is entirely possible to believe that he upholds racist systems while longing for the restoration of his immune system.
It is entirely possible to believe that he failed to handle COVID-19 responsibly and hope that his body develops antibodies to bring about his recovery.
And it is entirely possible to pray that he will have a change of heart because of how this pandemic has now hit home.
Here’s the thing. You may not agree with me on President Trump. You may endorse his presidency and plan to vote for him again in November. I need you to know something: I disagree with you but I am not your enemy. Especially, I want to make this clear, if you are a fellow follower of Jesus. We may have some disagreements about policies pertaining to human rights. But that is a discussion for another day.
But for me, I will take my political cues from two sources: the Jesus revealed in the New Testament and what I hear from marginalized communities in our country.
The Jesus who stood up on a hillside and gave us the Sermon on the Mount—I can’t imagine him ignoring the cries of the oppressed among us.
The Jesus who not only taught his disciples to love their enemies, but modeled this sort of radical love as he forgave them and died for the very people who executed him.
The Jesus who rose from the dead to inaugurate the eventual defeat of sin and evil in all their forms: personal sin, systemic sin, and everything in between.
My ultimate political cue that I get from Jesus isn’t, just to be clear, vote Democrat because they will save us from these sins.* Rather, it is that Jesus is the only King … the only “President” … that is worthy of my allegiance.
So, what do I do with the news that President Trump and the First Lady have COVID-19?
I ask God to use this situation to influence the President and to bring about the restoration of both body and soul.
Jesus says that as his disciple I have 3 basic marching orders:
Most of the time President Trump teeter-totters between #2 and #3 for me. And as a Christian, it makes no difference which number he ultimately lands on. Love is my call. Love is the virtue Jesus invites me to cultivate. So I choose love.
I’m no fan of the President, but I am a fan of life.
I pray for him and the First Lady. I pray they recover. I also pray, that the President has a change of heart and mind.
While the following might be an extreme verse to use, depending on how you view President Trump, this passage from the Hebrew Scriptures give us some needed perspective on why we Christians are called to desire life:
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Ezekiel 33.11
If the God of the Bible takes no pleasure in the death of wicked people … the most extreme example of what we might consider an enemy … then it follows that wherever President Trump lands on the love neighbor |————| love enemy spectrum, God desires life. Every time. And not life only for life’s sake.
But a life that turns from evil and discovers a truer life … a life of love … a life that looks like Jesus.
Maybe this is President Trump’s opportunity to truly live.
*To be clear, I’m not saying that voting in the election is off the table for me. I will vote for the candidates and policies that I understand will tilt our systems towards more equity for marginalized people. I do this fully knowing that these votes are lesser evils. I’m an “independent” with convictions that look like Republican issues at times and Democrat issues on other points. I just want to follow Jesus and listen to the voices of my marginalized neighbors so that I can utilize my privilege for the greater good.