Walking Our Faith: Dear President Trump
Walking Our Faith
Are you a Christian?
You posed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible aloft, and that Bible looked as awkward in your hand as you looked holding it. Its cover was stiff and unblemished carrying none of the hallmarks of a well-loved Bible that is scarred with years of use, verses underlined and pages stained with tears.
One of the most formidable commandments of the Bible is, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord, Your God, in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)
Your photo op used the holy Word of God for your political profit. Thereby taking the name of God in vain. And for that, you must seek God’s forgiveness.
I doubt you saw it that way because, when asked in an interview with CNN whether you had ever sought God’s forgiveness, you said, “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
President Trump, if you don’t think God needs to be brought into the picture, if you have not sought the forgiveness of your sins through the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, you are not a Christian. By your own words, Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection in atonement for our sins was unnecessary.
To create your photo op, scores of policemen cleared your path through Lafayette Park with tear gas and rubber bullets to remove peaceful protesters including an Episcopal priest, who stood near the church where she served moments before you arrived.
If you were a Christian, you might’ve handed her your Bible and asked her to show you a passage that has given her consolation in this time of pandemic and unemployment and racial upheaval. We are a country grieving our dead.
Perhaps she would have pointed you to Psalm 13, which opens with these words: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” But which ends with hope, “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”
You see, we children of God, in all our religious stripes, understand that God is Love and it is he who saves us, not you, or any other political leader. As it says in 1st Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong … I am nothing.”
Or you might have met with Bishop Michael Curry, leader of the Episcopal Church in America. While moments before you stood at a podium and threatened to dominate with military force American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, Bishop Curry spoke of love and healing and reconciliation just as Jesus Christ preached, which you would know if you read the pages of the Bible you held.
The next day, I was happy to see you pay tribute to Saint John Paul II, because I am Catholic. The Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Wilton Gregory, who like Bishop Curry is an African American, expressed the incongruity of your presence at the shrine because former Pope John Paul II encouraged citizen protests, which led to Poland’s freedom and the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union.
Pope John Paul II championed civil rights and religious freedom and understood not only God’s love but God’s power to change the course of history. Not your power, God’s power.
On Tuesday night, I listened to Dr. Tony Evans, an Evangelical leader of the 9,500 member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He spoke of our need as individuals to reconcile with God and reach out to our neighbors, our churches, our communities and our civic leaders. He spoke with wisdom and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And what he has in common with Bishop Curry and Archbishop Gregory is that he is an African American.
I encourage you to invite these three men of God to the Oval Office or, better yet, to the living room of your residence, for heartfelt private conversation.
You need to understand their personal experience as black men in America and to seek their wisdom on how to heal the racial divide in our country. But most of all, I would ask them to pray with you, so that you would understand what it means to seek God’s forgiveness and salvation.
To be a Christian is to have a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, our savior. It is to read the Bible and be willing to humble yourself before God and ask forgiveness when you have sinned, and if you’re like me, that means you will seek forgiveness daily.
And then you will heed Christ’s admonition to “go and sin no more.” Which includes not tweeting things that are not true, especially when they are easily fact-checked.
As a Christian, you would know that God has brought down kings who ignored him and raised up shepherds to become kings. History has shown that God does not tolerate leaders who claim to obey his commandments yet openly sin against him.
“Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)
To be a Christian means to not only believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but to understand why God chose to send his son to be born of working-class immigrants. And it means to appreciate why working-class immigrants, like my grandparents, made America great through their labor.
President Trump, I hope you are a Christian not only for the sake of your soul, but also because serving our country gives you the responsibility of serving all of us, not just the people you choose. America needs leaders who are humbled by God’s unmerited love and seek God’s wisdom. Only God can make America great again.
But you have work to do, President Trump, because by your behavior on the steps of St. John’s, you demonstrated that you are not yet a Christian.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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