In the past week, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, proclaimed President Trump as God’s special administrator for earthly justice. And this isn’t the first time that Pastor Jeffress and others of his ilk have lauded the president as ‘God’s chosen man’.
Actually, it has become rather routine in recent decades for some of us Christians to view any Republican president as a semi-messianic figure, officially sanctioned by God to guide the nation to a holy destiny, and any Democrat’s ascension to the White House as an act of rebellion against God – or maybe as God letting go of the reins for a while (“I’m just stepping out to make some copies. Do you think you can hold things together on your own while I’m gone?”).
But heralding Donald Trump as ‘God’s anointed’? Well, that may be a new low, even for a group increasingly accustomed to finding secret elevators to previously uncharted subterranean caverns of absurdity.
And it comes at a price: the price of our eyes.
Now, guys like Stevie Wonder make blindness look cool. But we ain’t Stevie. We didn’t compose and produce the Innervisions album, playing all the instruments and experimenting with synthesisers. And our blindness is anything but cool. Here’s what our blindness looks like:
- Defending and excusing conduct we never would have pardoned in any of President Trump’s Democrat counterparts.
- Insisting that we ‘get behind the president’ and ignore his behaviour because he’s ‘God’s anointed’, and therefore beyond criticism.
- Believing that Mr. Trump is ‘God’s anointed’ because Pastor Jeffress and others have assured us that he’s ‘God’s anointed’.
- Forgetting that God has already filled the position of Anointed One with a guy named Jesus (You might have noticed a few passing references to him scattered throughout the New Testament).
- Implying that God has somehow back-pedalled and appointed Jesus’ polar opposite as ‘His man for this time’.
- Imagining that the way of Jesus, a way of humility, compassion and self-sacrifice, can somehow be reconciled with the narcissism, spitefulness and self-aggrandisement that characterise the way of President Trump.
- Living as though the teachings of Jesus have no application to the civic arena.
- Believing that President Trump and Jesus can form some sort of tag-team duo (“I’ll make sure they get to heaven, Mr. President, and you handle things on this end.”)
- Hoping that we can follow two leaders (one ‘heavenly’ and one ‘earthly’) heading in opposing directions.
- Insisting that grabbing a few Supreme Court seats is worth dragging Jesus’ name through the sludge.
- Crying that the ‘liberals’ are persecuting us, when they’re really just pointing out our hypocrisy.
And the interesting thing about this blindness is that we’re blissfully unaware that we can’t see. Like the person at the optometrist who doesn’t realise how much her eyesight has deteriorated until she’s given new lenses. Like the alcoholic who doesn’t think he has a problem.
I’m reminded of one of Jesus’ conversations with the Pharisees, where he stated that “the blind would see and those who could see would become blind”:
Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
Our progressive vision loss would be almost comic if it wasn’t so sad. Fortunately, Jesus has an excellent track record when it comes to healing the blind. I find hope in the following story from the Gospel of Mark:
Some people brought a blind man to him and begged [Jesus] to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?”
And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.”
Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Mark 8:22-25, NRSV
May our eyes be opened.
- Feature Image: President Trump and Pastor Robert Jeffress (Photo by Lucas Grindley of The Advocate, https://www.advocate.com/election/2016/6/17/donald-trump-takes-thumbs-photo-extremely-antigay-pastor)
- Stevie Wonder, 1973 (From Wikimedia Commons, By Motown Records – eBay item photo back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22535008)