The election of Donald Trump has brought discord and disarray into the social system of the United States. Many are angered, more are fearful, and all are divided. I am not here to say whether I approve or disapprove of President Trump’s policies, polemics, or presidency. Neither am I here to commend you or condemn you for your position on Donald Trump. However, I fear that in our emotionally charged responses, most are failing to consider God’s sovereignty and thus not recognizing His blessing in allowing Donald Trump to now be President Donald Trump.
Yes, I did just say that Donald Trump is a blessing, or more accurately his presidency is a blessing. I have no idea what the future of his presidency will bring and whether the impact and legacy behind him when it is all said and done will be positive or negative. What I do know is this: The election of Donald Trump has transformed the conversations I have into gospel-centered ones.
Let me share what I mean by that. Living overseas I have been able to watch the election through the eyes of those on the outside. The people here are fascinated that a man like Donald Trump could be elected as president (although I will tell you the information they have is incomplete at best, and often downright false at worst). That fascination causes questions to form in the mind, and being from the United States those questions are often asked of me. As a rule, I avoid political conversations overseas, however, I will slightly engage with people when they ask questions of Trump. Why? Because no matter what the question is, it takes no more than two sentences to transform the conversation into one that is centered upon God’s sovereignty and ultimately leading towards the gospel of salvation. In short, a Trump presidency has given me more opportunity to share God’s truth in recent months than anything else.
Whether we are in agreement or not, the reality is this: Donald Trump is President of the United States of America. Knowing that then, we now have to move forward and consider what this presidency means from a gospel-oriented view.
Consider the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy:
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (1)
Most of us recognize the principle verses of a Christian’s attitude towards authority and government. We call forth Romans 13:1-8 about the necessity of submitting to those in authority over us, and we look at this verse to call forth the need to pray for leaders. However, Paul’s words here are very specific. They are gospel-oriented. Paul is not merely saying that we should pray for leaders, like Donald Trump, but specifically that we should pray for conditions to be such that the gospel can go forth and transform lives. The ESV Study Bible notes about this verse, “The lifestyle encouraged here corresponds to the goal of apostolic teaching in 1:5 and contrasts with the behavior of false teachers. This sort of living commends the gospel . . . ” (2).
Whether we recognize it or not, Donald Trump’s presidency has created an opportunity for the gospel of God to be proclaimed and the God of the gospel to be glorified. And here we are compelled to read Paul’s words and pray both for the salvation of our leaders, but also pray that conditions of society will be such that they act as a conduit for the gospel. One commentator notes that this verse describes “conditions free from outward harassment and inner fears. Knowing that peace of heart which comes through justification by faith, the believer will seek profitably to use the conditions of outward peace to present to his fellow men the gospel of peace” (3).
There before us is an opportunity that if rightly stewarded can bring grand glory to God. This is not about proclaiming personal politics, but about giving a godly gospel. Perhaps the words of J.C. Ryle best sum up our response to not just President Trump, but president (insert name):
“The world will let a man go to hell quietly, and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to heaven quietly – they will do all they can to turn him back. Who has not heard of nicknames in plenty bestowed on all who faithfully follow Christ? – Pietist, Methodist, saint, fanatic, enthusiast, righteous overmuch, and many more . . . Let a young person go to every ball and theatre and race-course, and utterly neglect his soul, and no one interferes . . . But let him begin to read his Bible and be diligent in prayers, let him decline worldly amusement and be particular in his employment of time, let him seek an evangelical ministry and live as if he had an immortal soul, – let him do this, and the probability is all his relations and friends will be up in arms. ‘You are going to far’, ‘You need not be so very good’, ‘You are taking up extreme lines,’ – this is the least that he will hear . . . If a man will become a decided evangelical Christian he must make up his mind to lose the world’s favours, he must be content to be thought by many a perfect fool” (4)
Let us not be a people who allow others to go to hell quietly. Instead, take the opportunity of Trump’s presidency and turn it towards the gospel.
(1) This verse is quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2009.
(2) Wayne Grudem, Editor. ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), Kindle Location 311718.
(3) D. Edmond Hiebert. Working with God through Prayer. (Greenville: BJU Press, 1991), 42.
(4) Iain H. Murray, J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), Kindle Location 995.