On January 20th 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Yes, you’re still not dreaming. It will happen.
An openly misogynistic, tax dodging bully will become the most powerful human being in the free world.
The reasons for Trump’s victory could be discussed for hours, days, weeks, months. Theories can be thrashed out about sexism, racism, his celebrity, the intelligence of the electorate, emails, corruption, Clinton’s likeability (or lack thereof), and on and on and on.
This is missing the point.
America is divided. Clinton got 59.6m votes; Trump received 59.4m. The split is basically 50-50. By the way, don’t ask me how you can win the popular vote, and not win the election. It’s to do with Electoral Colleges. Ask Peggy (our resident American). The point is, the country is split. And it doesn’t end there.
In a survey done just before polling day, it was revealed that 55% of Democrats are afraid of the Republican Party, while 49% of Republicans feel that way about the Democratic Party. That is both startling, and more that a little upsetting.
When you have that much fear, that much anger, that much suspicion, that much vitriol, it creates an environment where a Donald Trump can become President. In a way, it’s not his fault he’s where he is. I mean, it is his fault that he says the things he does and acts the way he does, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not his fault that he’s been put in this position. He put fear out there, and he won. I mean, he’s run for President before and didn’t get a sniff, so why is it so different now?
Trump was elected President because he preyed on people’s worst fears about the world, and about each other; and not only that, but he said he’d rescue them from what was making them afraid.
‘I’m the only one who knows how to stop ISIS.’
‘I will build a wall to keep those pesky immigrants out.’
The terrible irony in all of this is that the biggest humanitarian crisis in recent memory – the displacement of millions of refugees – aligned with the unconnected rise of ISIS and terrorism, has birthed a narrative of fear that Trump has capitalised on. ‘You cannot trust these people. You don’t know who they are or what they’ll do. They could be terrorists. We need to keep them away.’ The message is despicable, it’s disgusting, it’s immoral, it’s dangerous and it’s a lie.
But it worked. Because fear is a powerful thing. Remember; there’s a reason God says ‘do not fear’ more than anything else in Scripture. He knows it’s a powerful emotion.
Ratchet up the fear. Ratchet up the divisiveness. And offer a solution to get rid of whatever is making them afraid. If you get rid of those you fear and are suspicious of, you don’t have to love them. You don’t have to show compassion to them. You don’t have to compromise with them. You don’t have to serve them.
And it worked.
As I wrote on Facebook the other day – ‘Hate wins’.
It was very interesting that in his acceptance speech, when Trump decided that it was time to compliment Hillary Clinton, and thank her for her hard work over her many years of public service, it was met with a decided unease in the room from his supporters. They wanted her locked up. They wanted more anger, hatred and insults.
So what can we take from all this mess? What do you think God sees when he watches this debacle? What might he be willing to happen?
Towards the end of His life, as Jesus is about to be arrested, and he’s praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, it’s recorded in John 17 that he prays this for all the believers that will come after his has been crucified, and is resurrected:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
His wish is for His people to unified.
The apostle Paul continues this message through his correspondence to various churches through the Epistles. In 1 Corinthians 1, he says this:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
And you can find Paul recommending similar things to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae.
Division and disunity is not a solely American trait. Just look closer to home. Brexit. Continued unrest across Europe as a growing number of parties with more than a hint of racism and xenophobia begin to gain traction. Fear and division is not something that came along with Donald Trump. He’s just the poster boy.
Right here at home, we see a Dáil that can barely agree on anything. You’ve got unrest in the public sector almost every day with strikes, lockouts and demands failing to be met.
You have the poor getting poorer, and the rich getting richer.
Division is rife. And this is where Jesus, with the power of His message, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit can do amazing things.
We, as Christians, have the privilege of carrying a message that is unique. It is unique because Christ in unique. Christ is unique, because He is a God who sees us all as equal. We are all broken. We all fall short. We all need forgiveness. We all need grace. We all need redemption. We all need to be transformed. We all need to worship Him. We are all loved. We are all cherished. We are all His children. We are all valued. He does not discriminate. He does not love you any more or any less than anyone else. He is an all loving, all forgiving, all gracious God who looks at you and says you’re worth dying for. Just like he looks at the person next to you and says the same.
We are to be unified, and as Jesus said, it is so that people may know that we are His.
We can’t solve the issue of Trump being President, and all that may mean, but what we can do is shine a light in our own way, be it big or small, as we bring love, unity, patience and understanding to whatever situations we come across – all with the help of a God who walks alongside us as we do. Let’s be a people who refuses to hate, divide or be suspicious.
And also, pray for Trump. Nobody is beyond the power and grace of God. Nobody.
And remember, one day we will all, as one, bend our knees, worship Him. Don’t forget it.