February 2017

As a student of politics for most of my life, I have never seen the rancor and divisiveness that
has settled in over our country since the election, and inauguration, of Donald Trump as the 45th
President of the United States. Given that, I have often wondered and prayed about what our
response as Christians needs to be to the turmoil that seems to envelop us at every turn. We
argue, we fight, we protest, we unfriend long-time friends on social media – it seems that we
have lost sight of what is most important in our lives: our relationship with Jesus Christ, and
how that relationship directly impacts our relationships with others. We are hateful, because
we have hate, or fear, in our hearts; and that is not of Christ.
 
Below is an excerpt from an op-ed piece written by fellow Coast native Russell Moore, who
serves as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist
Convention. He addresses the issue of what we as Christians need to be doing right now better
than I ever could. I don’t always agree with Dr. Moore, but I certainly do on this issue. And,
even though I rarely found myself in agreement with President Obama on any issue, I never
gave up praying for him, and those around him, as he governed our nation.
 
Please prayerfully listen to Dr. Moore’s words:
With the inauguration of a new president of the United States, now is a time to pray for
President Trump and to remember our obligation as Christians to pray for all those who are in
civil authority. The Apostle Paul charges us to offer prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for
“all people,” and includes in that list “kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:2). This
very act of praying is itself a counter-cultural act.
 
We can pray in a way that wants absolute success for officials we like, and total defeat for those
we oppose. That’s not the way Christians pray.
 
Consistently, no matter who is in office, we are to pray for success. That doesn’t mean we pray
for all of any leader’s ideas to be realized. But it means that we pray that he or she would
succeed, would carry out an agenda that leads to the flourishing of the rest of society and,
particularly, so that the church may “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every
way.”
 
In contemporary American society, we’re supposed to want those we like to leave office as
heroes and those we don’t to bumble and fail. That should never be our attitude. As Donald
Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States, we should pray that his
presidency is a great and good one. That prayer applies to all, whether someone voted for the
current president or not.
 
Those who like the new president should pray that he governs so successfully that their hopes
are realized. Those who don’t like the new president should pray that, at the end of his term if
not before, they are surprised that they were wrong. This means we should pray for many
things, specifically. We should pray for physical safety. Leading a nation is a perilous thing, as
we have seen throughout our country’s history. We should pray also for wisdom and
discernment.
 
A president — or any elected official — will have many expert advisers giving counsel, and many
of these experts will see things differently. We should pray that Trump would at every turn have
the foresight to differentiate between all the competing options in a way that benefits the
country and the rest of the world.
 
We should also pray that the president is able to bring about peace. This means we pray that he
would lead the world toward peaceful resolutions of conduct.
 
We also should pray that God uses him, through the bully pulpit of the presidency, to model
what it means for an often-divided nation to live in peace and civility with one another, even
when we disagree. A president cannot do that alone, but we should pray that, as in other times
in our history, the president is able to make a start.
 
The biblical command to render honor also means we cannot in good conscience undermine the
legitimacy of our new president. Evangelical believers can and often do publicly disagree with
our elected officials over important issues, and holding those in power accountable is part of our
duty. But that accountability does not entail proclamations of “Not my president.” Such
statements were wrong and irresponsible when some said them during the last administration,
and they are still wrong and irresponsible now applied to the new administration.
 
We are told to pray this way not because the country is ultimately so important.
 
As a matter of fact, we are to pray that way because the country is not of ultimate importance.
We pray for wise, successful civil leadership because we know what matters more: “For there is
one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave
himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
We pray for flourishing in the civil arena because that’s good for everyone, and part of our
obligation to love our neighbors. We also do so because we pray for the freedom for the church
to announce, without hindrance (Acts 28:30-31), a message that outlasts the White House.
 
In His Love,
Bro. Heath