Can we have hope in the midst of Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s) “reign”?

How can we as Christians have hope in the midst of the “reign” of political leaders that we dislike or disagree with? We can have hope when we…

understand who is the King
As Christians, the king or President is not our ultimate King, Jesus is. Peter and Paul both lived under Roman rule, which was not the best of situations. Actually, we are told they were both beheaded under Roman rule. There are many other things that we could look at that happened under Roman rule (e.g. slavery, infanticide, public crucifixion, pornography, bisexuality). However, those things were not Peter and Paul’s main concern. Their main concern was Jesus and His gospel and they could find joy in the midst of adversity in the eschatological hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.

Our hope is in no king here. Our hope is in the King that came and died. Our hope is in that King coming back and setting all things right. Until then, our job is to be faithful representatives of the King that came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Christ is ultimately King! Not Clinton. Not Trump.

understand that we are to love our neighbors
Political candidates (on the left and right) can and have said some alarming things in the past. Our job as Christians is to love our neighbors and reassure them that if the authorities become oppressive we will support and defend those being threatened. Because we see all humanity as precious beings created in the image of God, we will stand up to protect minorities, outcasts, and all humans  (even if we don’t agree with their worldview or morality). We will strive to be like Corrie Ten Boom, William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other Christians that have stood up against oppression.

understand how change happens
Change—real, lasting, substantial change—does not happen through political powers and ideologies alone. Substantial change starts in the heart, and in the heart of individuals. Thus we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the political basket (whether we like the political party in power or not).[1]

We can deal with externals all day but we really need to get to the issue from which they flow. We can smash bees all day, but what we really need to do is destroy the nest from which they come (see Ps. 36:1; Matt. 12:35; 15:18-20; Lk. 6:45; Prov. 4:23). 

For real substantial change to happen, we need to get to the root of the problem. Think of it this way, if a toilet is clogged and continually spewing forth all sorts of filth, what is the immediate thing to do? Should we automatically grab a mop and try to keep up cleaning the floor as the toilet continues to overflow? Or should we take a different approach to the situation, should we get down to the heart of the problem and kill the source of the mess?

Taking a mop to the problems of society will not ultimately fix them. We must seek to change the heart of the problem, sinful hearts, by the gospel of Christ. The gospel alone is the power to salvation, sanctification, and thus societal change.

understand how we have unity
Our unity is not based on political positions. We can have peace with each other, even if we don’t agree with each other. This is true because Christians are not united around politics but around the Promised One, Jesus. This is true of Christians within the church and has an effect on those outside the church.  

Paul tells us that in the Church there is not “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11). Greeks, Jews, barbarians, Scythians, slaves, and those who are free would have all had different political opinions and yet their identity is not found there, but in Christ. Today, too, our unity is not based on politics, but in our union with Christ. 

understand who we fight against
There is actually something far more scary and insidious going on than just not liking a certain political party or candidate. Trump, Clinton, and Sanders are not the enemy and neither is the left or right. Ultimately, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12) but against spiritual forces, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), the ancient serpent (Rev. 20:2) and his host. 

However, there is hope. As we have seen, Jesus is the true King and Lord. He is sovereign. He will bring Satan and all wicked rulers to an end and will meed out appropriate judgment. 

However, let’s also remember that “the line between good and evil is never simply between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ The line between good and evil runs through each one of us.”[2] So, even as we disagree with certain politicians, and perhaps even believe that parts of their politics are wicked, let’s humbly and compassionately remember that we were once as they are.[3] Let’s not be puffed up in pride but pray for those over us (1 Tim. 2:1-4). 



[1] For example, we will likely see that the “Change” that Obama promised and brought will likely itself be changed. That is the nature of politics and life on the earth. However, we look to the One who is changeless and good beyond comprehension. 

[2] N.T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, 38.

[3] The Bible says of Christians: “such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11), “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), “you were… separated from Christ,… having no hope and without God in the world.” So, as Christians, we should never be puffed up in pride thinking we are better than others. It is only because of the grace of God that we not still wallowing in our rebellion. 

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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