In fifty years, the days that we are living right now will be written about in history books. I mean they will be specifically written about: the inauguration of the forty-fifth president, the four million woman march, the executive order to build the wall, the record low approval rating, the shake ups, and the unconventionality of the the whole thing. These days are for posterity. It’s not clear just yet how they will be remembered but if I make it to eighty-seven years old, I plan on purchasing one of those books to see how things have been recorded. It’s going to be interesting reading.
Yes, there are many possible storylines. Of all of them, though, I’m simultaneously frustrated and entranced by the evangelical “Christian” version of the story. To be fair, there are several variations of this storyline as well, but if we can generalize for just a moment, the basic idea follows. There are a great multitude of believers who hold to a version of reality wherein God in heaven raised up President Trump to lead America at just this time and with just Trump’s signature style. Trump, they believe, is an answer to prayer and gives this country the best opportunity to turn from its wicked ways and be healed. A loving God in heaven is pulling levers and twisting dials and coordinating all of this for the benefit of His creation.
One evangelical even tied the rain that fell during the inaugural address to a sign of God’s blessing on America and on Trump himself.
I’m entranced by this story for a couple of reasons. First, it seems to hold such an incredible power over people. People are certain in their version of the uncertain. Their god is the god that blesses, and gives favor to those that are faithful. Clearly, America is in favor. Clearly, God will cause a mighty leader to rise up for such a time as this. Clearly, this is simply the way it is. These people are members of the in-group and your choice to live your life differently is a choice to live outside of God’s desire for you.
It is this idea of building favor with an interventionist God that leads to prayers for healing, for blessing, and for world peace. It’s this sort of belief that motivates movie stars and football players to give props to the man upstairs for providing them with an Oscar or a miraculous fourth quarter comeback. Some of the people who follow this storyline believe that God was acting through the election machinery to ensure the election of His chosen son. More on this in a minute.
Secondly, there are the contradictions. Their god is also the god who calls his people to take care of the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. So, here is the great leader, chosen and approved by God as the story goes, blessed by power from on high. He has the opportunity to welcome the vulnerable. Within this story, some might even consider this a requirement. Not building walls. Not cutting off services to refugees. Serving sacrificially.
How is it that those who subscribe to this story line cannot see these blatant contradictions? Perhaps they do. Perhaps it is only faith in this god that alleviates such cognitive dissonance. Perhaps their unquestioning dependence on God means that even those things that they cannot understand will one day make sense.
This is not the God that gave us Trump.
Consider this. The god that gave us Trump has no levers to pull. There are no settings or dials or programs to run. However she operates, this god refuses to interfere with the day to day. She hears the prayers of her people and she acknowledges them – validates them in some mysterious way – but she doesn’t get involved. She hopes that that illness gets diagnosed and treated. She understands the anxiety around the bills. But she doesn’t get involved.
Because she loves us.
In my world, God doesn’t intervene. If God started to get involved in our daily lives the way that some people seem to want her to, I don’t think I could trust her. When you tell me that God’s favor for Russell Wilson is so strong that she is going to give the Seattle Seahawks a late fourth quarter victory again and she seems to refuse to rescue the 21 million victims of human trafficking around the world, you’re describing to me a petty, petty God. When you tell me that neighbors dying of cancer will have their prayers for healing answered in vastly different ways based on how much they’ve served the church, you’re describing to me a god that doesn’t love equally, fairly, or justly.
You’re describing to me a god that has no standards and that makes it impossible for her followers to know how to act, except to feign ultimate devotion. Loving this god becomes a competition; I need to make sure my loving is at an acceptable level.
But a god who hears my pleas and understands my broken heart? A god who allows me to ask the tough questions of why without lashing out at me to punish my lack of faith? A god who wonders with us why we are not doing more to help those that are most vulnerable in our society?
Now that god has potential.
That god is about inspiring people to action. When things are wrong, being able to ask those questions means that sometimes we discover what is right. Sometimes, we feel a sense of purpose. Because if we don’t act, no one else will.
A god who does not intervene will not come to the rescue if we just pray harder. This god won’t choose between a football game and a cancer patient. But such a god might be just the source of energy that we need to continue fighting like hell. This god might inspire us to believe that we can make a difference – that what we do, rather than what we pray for, matters. Such a god might inspire us to the sort of sacrificial love that makes sure those who need us most are well taken care of.
It is just such a god – one that chooses not to intervene – that gave us Trump. It is the only way that it could have happened.
And this is exactly how I know God cares.