Welp. That didn’t go as planned, or maybe it did. Or maybe I didn’t really have a plan. In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, this morning I posted a “hot-take” response to President Trump holding a Bible in front of an Episcopal Church in DC. The post exploded. Some agreed. Some disagreeing. One person scolding me. Some defending Trump. Some interacting with each other. People I didn’t know got into the mix. It got too divisive and I realized some things, and so I took it down.
As for the issue itself that set me off – Trump appeared to simply stand in front of a church, and awkwardly hold a Bible while the cameras clicked and recorded away. That was it. He didn’t go inside. He didn’t go to pray, talk with clergy, or anyone. St. John’s Church, considered the “Church of the Presidents” was completely unaware of what was going on.
It looked absolutely staged and false. It made me livid and truth be told I still am. These last few weeks have been on a low simmer for me. I have strong feelings about racism. Feelings about our country. Feelings about our president and I have never spoken out. This morning, I the slow simmer boiled over and I spoke out. But, did I do it well? Yes and no. So, therefore I write this response, to myself.
What I Did Wrong:
- I fell victim to emotions. This is what’s called in the business as a “hot-take” – meaning that we are confronted with an issue and we respond immediately. [Proverbs 18:13]
- I judged a man’s heart incorrectly. [John 7:24]
- I sparked division. [Romans 16:17]
All of those things are sinful and against what I am support to be about, and run the risk of bringing shame to Jesus, so for that I ask for forgiveness.
...But what needs to be said:
- We, as Christians, have to find a way to speak out against injustice. I have been deeply convicted in these last few weeks. I’ve been doing a lot of reading for my doctorate and learning the tragic stain of racism. Our country has deep systemic racism throughout its origins and that racism has tentacles that reach today.
- Guys like me, too afraid to speak up, have remained silent and because of that it continues. It flares up from time to time, when we see a police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck until he is dead. Enough is enough.
- We, as Christians, are actually called to judge each other.
- I saw a few of the “don’t judge” responses in the comments and we have to realize something – that just isn’t true. We are called to judge each other rightly – see John 7:24, which puts the famous Matthew 7:1 “Don’t judge me” in correct context.
- My mistake was not allowing any wiggle room for him to be genuine.
- But, if the President claims to be a believer, we [Christians] need to judge his Christian walk. My walk is judged…and it is a good thing.
- My specific issue with this morning was – what WAS that? What if he came to Highlands Bible Church, and stood by our sign with a Bible? Has he ever been in it? What Bible is he holding? Why just stand outside a church, unannounced, take pictures of you awkwardly holding said Bible and then leave? Some claim he was boldly proclaiming his faith and standing on the Word of God. That is highly suspicious and reads an awful lot into the whole situation. Why didn’t he say anything then? He only said things like “We have the greatest country in the world.” He moved to other positions, clearly posing with the Bible as a prop. Watch the clip. He had the perfect opportunity to clarify what his true beliefs were, to say exactly what he was doing, yet he did not.
- We can get a window into someones soul by the words they use, which is why I’m trying to be very careful with mine. Look at the President’s words. Read his Tweet stream. Tell me, if a member of your church used those words, wouldn’t you be seriously concerned about the state of their hearts?
- We, as Christians, are called to not spark division.
- I don’t know what I expected would happen with my post, but it quickly revealed some very strong allegiances, bad theology, and it was spiraling out of control. I didn’t want the world to see us as Christians like that.
- My words, the way they were used, were divisive. They left no room for any other opinion.
- My operating rule on social media has been to keep things nice. Surfacey. Don’t talk about Trump, or LGBTQ issues, or racism, or anything that will cause people to not like me anymore.
- Welp, that time needs to be over. Without anyone talking about these issues they just continue to fester and grow and sometimes they spill over.
- The question remains – how do we engage in these issues well?
- The answer…that is what we all need to work on.
The stakes are too high – we are the ones entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, the gospel of peace. Let’s demonstrate that in grace in our words, as we figure out how to mix them with truth.