Giving God adoration in the age of Trump.
This past week. These past four years. Wow. Where to begin. I’ve been trying to process the events that took place in DC this past week, while generally trying to wrap my head around Christianity in the waning days of the Trump presidency. I keep asking myself: How do I practice my faith in the age of Trump?
More specifically: How do I continue to practice my adoration of God – that is, giving God praise for all He’s done, is doing, and will do – when the faith tradition I practice has, again, been corrupted by an immoral political movement? There seems to be a huge chasm between the good God the Bible speaks of and the Christianity that has been co-opted by Trump and his enablers.
What I do know is that Christians have practiced the adoration of God for thousands of years, in a myriad of political contexts. The Christian faith started amidst Roman occupation and persecution, so I know the God of the New Testament is for and with the oppressed. Not only was Jesus nailed to a cross because of the challenge he posed to the political and religious power structures at that time, but the New Testament is filled with examples of early church heroes being jailed and/or killed for their religious and political declaration that Jesus is Lord. But then, starting with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 AD, Christianity became a tool of empire, with a very imperfect historical record ever since.
But, here at the end of the Trump presidency, I’m asking: How do I present Christianity to the person who has watched with horror as Trump has co-opted the Christian faith for political purposes? What could I say to THAT person so that he or she would give God a chance, or even come to the place of adoring Him?
I would start by pointing to the inspired, historical writings of Christianity that paint the picture of a God who is good, who is endlessly creative, who is on the side of the oppressed and downcast and lowly, who comes to the rescue of those in bondage, who makes clear His distaste of performative, empty religion, who came to earth to save humanity, who came to give us life to the full, and who is still at work today.
-The God who created the whole universe (Genesis 1)
-The God who saves His people from slavery by parting the Red Sea (the book of Exodus)
-The God who protects His people while in exile in Babylon (the book of Daniel)
-The God who rescues His people from genocide through an amazing woman (The book of Esther)
-The God who despises hypocritical, performative, immoral religion (Isaiah 1:11-17)
-And much more…
-A God who became a Middle Eastern Jew and dwelt among us in the form of Jesus amidst an occupation of God’s people by the Roman Empire (John 1)
-A God who, in Jesus, is with and for the lowly and oppressed (Matthew 5) and calls out religious hypocrisy (Matthew 23:27-28)
-A God who, in Jesus, came to give humanity abundant life (John 10:10)
-A God who, in Jesus, became a servant to humanity through his life on earth and His death in a cross (Philippians 2:6-8)
-A God who, in Jesus, is a High Priest who is able to empathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15) while also being the perfect sacrifice for all humanity’s sin (Hebrews 9:26)
-And much more…
I would say that I can give God adoration today, despite everything going on, because I actually believe that the writings of the Bible – the seeming myth about a God who came to earth to set humanity free – are TRUE.
It’s almost fantastical: that God would do this for us. But I believe it is true. This seeming myth is a true story: the truest story of the craziest love of a Creator for His Creation. C.S. Lewis says, “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.” I adore God because He first adored us. I love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Or, as Chance the Rapper says in that recent Bieber song, “I know we believe in God and I know God believes in us.”
I would say that I practice adoration not because God is a needy God, and not because Christianity has a perfect track record, but because adoration reminds me about God’s unconditional, sacrificial, and eternal love for all of humanity. Adoration is a practice that reminds me that we are adored by God – even to His own death on a cross. I adore Him because, even in our brokenness, even amidst our political, social, and economic turmoil, He adores us unendingly – while giving us clear directives to stand with those who are lowly and oppressed. The Creator of the universe, the God of all creation, the Savior Christ, adores YOU and ME and our family and friends – and even our enemies – and wants to set us free. That’s why we can sing the Christmas carol: “Come let us adore Him, [for He is] Christ the Lord.” The Christ has come, right into the middle of our brokenness and imperfection, and has called us to Himself in love. This is why I give God adoration – even in the age of Trump.