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“ALL HAVE FALLEN SHORT”
by Maurice Hamel, ©2020
(Oct. 5, 2020) — Because Donald Trump is a brash personality with an uncivilized past, some people feel that the presidential election will be decided over personalities, rather than issues. There are those who cannot bring themselves to look at a spoiled rich kid in his later years and forgive him for past failures in judgment and behavior.
Others can see a stark difference between the visions and goals of the liberals and progressives in comparison to the conservatives and will vote based on where they want the country to go. For the sake of their children and grandchildren, they want a land with freedom to make your own economic choices, rather than where the government controls your decisions based on its own vision for the greater good. Will America be a place where the rule of law prevails, or one where laws are merely tools for implementing policies and social change. Will it be one where social norms of western culture are valued and promoted, or one where the “old ways” need to change in order to affirm alternative views and lifestyles and to make amends for injustices of the past.
Many sincere and devoted followers of Christ are caught in that dilemma. They do not like the direction the country is headed in, with riots and lawlessness, and with courts, rather than voters, deciding what our culture feels is morally right. But they cannot forgive Trump for his past attitudes and this unpresidential behavior.
The point that these “Never Trump” voters are actually struggling with is whether they believe in God who can change a life when a person accepts Christ, what many call being “born again.”
The fact that he has surrounded himself with so many evangelicals and has done so many things that are supportive of Christian beliefs is not enough for such people to give him the benefit of the doubt. They cannot bring themselves to believe that God could use such a flawed vessel for his purposes, or at least that God would not save such a sinner from their sins. They cannot picture the God they serve asking someone who had never fallen to such uncivilized behavior to welcome someone like Trump as a brother in Christ.
You see, each of us has to decide whether we believe that a person can change their behavior when they see themselves for who they are and repent of it. For example, if someone goes to jail for committing a crime, do we feel they have paid their debt and deserve a second chance, or do we assume they are rotten to the core and have no potential to change, literally having “no redeeming value.”
When a person is trying to turn their life around and starts going to church, some people will reject them because they go outside for a cigarette after the service. It is easy for us to look at them judgmentally and say, “That is no way for a Christian to behave.” But we do not know where they have come from and what issues they are dealing with. If God decided to have them focus on no longer drinking or stealing, or their anger issues, then having them deal with their smoking is certainly a lesser priority in turning their life around.
In the same way, look at the personality flaws in Donald Trump, for example, his lack of respect for women over the years. If you decide that you would rather vote for a party that is willing to suppress as “hate speech” your right to freely express religious beliefs publicly, and to hinder your ability to teach your children what you believe, then you are actually saying that God cannot redeem a person, such as Donald Trump, and slowly change their heart and make them into a new creation. You believe that a person has not repented of their past failures if they cannot fix all of them at once, or at least they are unfit for service unless they meet the standards or behavior that you find suitable.
No one would be fit for service to God and country if those were the standards that were being applied. All have sinned, fallen short of the mark. That is what a person is admitting when they accept Christ. That we cannot pay the debt that we owe God, but that God made a way for us to be restored to fellowship with Him and that way is Christ.
Who are we to say that God cannot reach out and save Donald Trump, or anyone else, and then use them for His sovereign purposes?
If you are in the business of telling God what He can or cannot do, then your issue is not with Donald Trump, but with God. You have become the one going outside to have a cigarette after service. There are things that you need to deal with.
Maurice Hamel is a retired environmental scientist living on a small New England farm. He is author of “NATURE – GOD’S GROANING CREATION: Biblical Perspectives for the Environmentally Concerned” available through his website, healingtheland.org. He continues to write on the intersection of faith and world events, counseling husbands, devotional Bible study and “the need for people to grow in their relationship with God who loves them.”