Last week, President Donald Trump called his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “Dumb as a rock.” This really shouldn’t surprise anyone given the President’s penchant for calling people names (Pocahontas, Little Rocket Man, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Joe, Dumbest Man on Television, Little Adam Schitt – name is Schiff – Crying Chuck, Total Low-Life, Ungrateful Fool, Leaking-Lying James Comey to name a few). But what should concern every flavor of Christian from social justice warrior to conservative evangelical is how obvious it is that the President is not a new creation in Christ. He’s simply someone who may or may not have accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Yes, there is a difference – A BIG DIFFERENCE!
In his evening meeting with the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus told the religious leader that one had to be “born again” of the spirit. Here’s the story from John 3:1-8:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’
Paul then teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when you are born again, you become a new creation in Christ, the old is gone and new is here.
What does this look like? Well, we are told over and over again what that looks like!
- Humble Yourself
- Put others before yourself
- Don’t use coarse language
- Don’t call others “fool”
- Love your enemies
- Pray for those who persecute you
- Don’t judge
- Forgive others
- Show mercy and grace
- Accept an offense
- Do not seek revenge – leave room for God’s justice
- Love others
- Be a peacemaker
- Sow unity
- Don’t lie
- Glorify God in all you do
- Shine the light of Christ
- Don’t embrace your sin – fight it
- Don’t engage in sexual immorality
- To be first you must be last
- Don’t repay evil with evil
- Die to yourself
- Hate worldly things
- Keep your eyes on heavenly things
- Be different
The list goes on and on. The bottom line is Jesus tells us that there are a couple of ways people will actually know if you are one of His disciples. First, people will know by the way you love one another. Second, people will know by the fruit you bear meaning people will be able to see the love of Christ in you through your works.
I don’t see our president loving many people, and I don’t see a ton of fruit.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he hasn’t professed his faith in Jesus. What I am saying is he hasn’t done what comes next: Accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit and become a new creation in Christ. Unfortunately, you see that in a lot of Christians these days!
I know what I’m talking about because I was one of them for decades! Jesus was my savior – I had no doubt whatsoever that Jesus was God incarnate, was crucified for our sins, died, was buried and was raised from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father. I had no question about the Trinity and all the other doctrines of our faith. What I didn’t do is accept Jesus as my Lord.
Even though I believed everything that was in the Bible and every sermon I ever heard, I lived a life that didn’t look much like Jesus. I drank, I swore, I treated people badly, I lived for worldly things, I was the center of my world not Jesus. I did not allow the Holy Spirit to change me. I professed Jesus but didn’t commit. I was a Matthew 7:21 guy: On that day many will call me Lord, Lord and I will say I never knew you!
I have a number of Christian friends who love this president. They defend him as best they can. They’ll admit his tweets and language fall short, as did his actions prior to becoming president, but they’ll argue he wasn’t a Christian then and now he’s just a baby Christian. Okay, I get it. But, here’s the problem: He hasn’t embraced the faith, he’s just professed it.
Again, I’m not saying that he’s any different than half or more of the people you find in American churches every Sunday. I would argue that the majority of “Christians” are those who accept Jesus as their Savior but not necessarily as the Lord of their life.
That said, we Christians can’t give Trump a pass. We are told to hold our brothers and sisters accountable to the faith. And at this point in his walk, it seems as if Trump is not being held to the standard Christ sets for us. While none of us really are, one should at least look as if they are trying!
But here’s the problem we have in the American church: We stopped holding one another accountable decades ago! In my view, the church is extremely anemic when it comes to truly sacrificing for Jesus in a way where we look like Him and not the world and that makes the church impotent when it comes to setting a clear standard. Trump actually represents what the church looks like to outsiders – someone who claims Jesus but doesn’t act like Him.
How about you? Are you any different? Don’t say yes just because you attend church, give to charity, and obey the rules. Not only did the Pharisees do that but some of the nicest unbelievers I know do that as well. The question is this: Are you a new creation in Christ? Do you hate your sin? Do you fight against your flesh? Do you hate the world and what it stands for? Do you do everything you can to glorify God with every thought, word and action you take? Do you love God and love your neighbor? Do you forgive others, not judge others, and have compassion for others? Do you put others above yourself? Are you humble? Or, do you just live your life the best you can trying to be the best person you can just like everyone else? There is a difference.
As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our leaders. And boy do they need prayer! My prayer for our president is that he will humble himself before Jesus and accept the Holy Spirit’s transformational power in his life so that he can truly call Jesus Lord not just Savior. I pray that for our church as well!