Tag Archives: presidential election

Why Must Christians Suffer?

Why do I share Christ in my writing and in conversations with people who claim that God does not exist? I do it “to complete what is lacking in the affliction of Christ” (Colossians1:24). Christ’s suffering is completely sufficient to rescue every person from sin and death, but it is an incomplete sacrifice until every person has heard the good news. When I share the good news, I enter into the completion of Christ’s suffering by assuring that it is made available to everyone. I may suffer, because I do this work, and to suffer for sharing the faith is normal. I do not seek to suffer, but the suffering that befalls me because I am sharing the good news of Christ is as normal as the working of the law of gravity. My suffering is not redemptive, but when I suffer because I share Christ, I am join the church around the world in bringing the redemptive suffering of Christ for all people to its completion, its natural ultimate purpose.

We American Christians truly believe that Christ suffered for us in order for us to be comfortable. The most common thread in Christian devotional writing is that real Christians feel good about thems elves and fulfill all their dreams. We believe that suffering is an occasional intrusion in our lives designed to make us stronger, a spiritual workout plan that will make us look better to God and man. This attitude is an outrageous perversion of God’s truth. In the words of John Piper, “God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people.” God never meant for us to think that being a Christian meant improved self-esteem.

Many American Christians feel that Christians are threatened by the Obama administration in many different ways. Some Christians interpret Donald Trump’s victory as an answer to prayer, and they predict that Christians will be more free to act like Christians under his administration. This prediction may even come true.

If so, wise Christians will not take it as the end of Christian suffering for the faith in the USA. That would not be God’s purpose for us. We may have been granted a reprieve, a temporary truce in the battle for the kingdom of God that will allow us to catch our breath. We may wish one another “Merry Christmas” without looking around to see who is taking offense. Nevertheless, our suffering is not complete until “the world [is] filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters that cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14 KJV).

I am glad that Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency. I truly believe that it will not be as difficult to speak and act our faith under the Trump administration as it would have been under a Clinton administration. Nevertheless, I do not think Christians should assume that every barrier to Christian faith and life has now disappeared. The cultural forces which gave Clinton more popular votes than Trump received are not going anywhere. The culture classifies many behaviors that are integral elements of the Christian life as ”extreme,” and powerful groups in both government and culture will continue to attempt to suppress behaviors such as public prayer, evangelism, and display of Christian symbols, to name a few. While the Constitutional design of our government may have “saved the day,” the forces of opposition to Christ and his followers are not diminished by a Trump victory. Like any foe who feels cornered, the forces that resist Christ and his message will only become more aggressive under what they perceive to be adversity. It remains to be seen what the attitude of government under Donald Trump will be toward Christians, but his election will not reduce the cultural pressure to suppress Christianity.

When we experience that cultural pressure, we must respond as Jesus did. When confronted by the choice between suffering and testimony, we must not allow ourselves to believe that a loving God would not permit his beloved children to suffer. Such a notion is promoted by secular thinkers as an argument against the existence of God. God does not promise to spare us from suffering. He only promises to go with us though our suffering. Christ suffered abandonment on the cross, but we will not be abandoned. His grace sustains us, as it sustained the apostle Paul. Paul asked for relief, and God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Suffering is not fun. It does not make us feel good about ourselves. However, when we suffer as Christ did, and when we experience his grace in the midst of our suffering,  Paul says that we participate in the completion of Christ’s suffering. We must recognize that our suffering is in the plan of God for the salvation and blessing of all people, because “God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people.”

Pray for America, that Christ’s redemptive suffering may bring her people to salvation. Pray for Christ’s body on earth to be made ready to complete the afflictions of Christ as we share the good news in word and deed.

Why Were the Polls so Wrong?

Until about 8PM on November 8, nobody in the media was predicting anything but a win for Hillary Clinton. Among the polls taken in the days leading up to the election, the only difference was the difference between a squeaker and a landslide. All the polls predicted a win for Hillary Clinton.

Yet, Donald Trump won, and he won resoundingly, by a healthy margin of electoral votes. Maps of results by state were clearly dominated by the color red. According to the Constitution, electoral votes are the votes that determine the election. The polls taken before the election predicted a win for the wrong candidate, and that prediction was wrong, dead wrong, profoundly wrong.

Why did all the polls miss the prediction?

The polls missed the prediction, because God is still in charge. It would be easier to explain the results by hypothesizing that the polls were unwittingly skewed by an ill-suppressed desire for a Democrat win that led pollsters to de-randomize the selection of people to be polled. I, however, attribute the failure of the polls to foresee Donald Trump’s win to the fact that God has other plans for this country, I believe that people who are in touch with God prayed in submission to God’s will, and I believe God heard their prayers. A win that topples the predictions of well-validated statistical analysis is no big feat for the One who walks on water.

The Bible teaches us that we who have been purchased by the blood of Christ can cast out deeply embedded demons through prayer. We can move mountains by prayer. When our prayers are offered in submission to the will of Almighty God, the outcome can be utterly unexpected by minds confined to the time/space universe.

The Bible also teaches us that God likes to be recognized when he achieves victory, so it would not be out of character for God to set up a situation in which his intervention is the only possible explanation for the events. I believe that this may be the deep reason that nobody got it right.

Our election story could also be delightfully in parallel with the Bible story of the prophet Micaiah. When ancient kings thought about going into battle, they routinely summoned prophets to forecast the likelihood that they would win. King Ahab asked the prophets of Israel about his prospects for success in a battle against his neighbor, and they all predicted an easy win.  After a little verbal sparring, Micaiah told the king how God had sent a lying spirit to the prophets in order to entice Ahab to go into battle and die in a resounding defeat. The polls forecasting that Hillary Clinton’s win was inevitable were like the words of the prophets deceived by the lying spirit.

It served God’s purpose for people to know that Ahab’s defeat was God’s plan. Is it possible that it serves God’s purposes for people to see that Hillary’s defeat serves God’s plan?

After Election Day, when the vote tally showed that Donald Trump had won the presidential election, a lot of people, including me, breathed a sigh of relief. We felt we had received a reprieve after 8 years under the leadership of a man who had been leading the country in the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises deliberately built on the “legacy” of Barack Obama, assuring people who were pleased with his work that it would continue if she were elected. Those of us who believed that Obama’s agenda was utterly wrong for America were glad to see the Obama juggernaut halted.

Since the direction Obama took was the wrong direction, it seems quite natural to believe that the direction Donald Trump takes will be so different that it will surely be the right direction. People who yearn for the country to move in a different direction are expressing their fervent hope that Donald Trump will undo many things that Obama considers to be admirable accomplishments. They have high hopes that the new president will fix what they believe to have been broken by the Obama administration. Voters need to remember that we dare not put our hope in any human being. It is tempting to rejoice exuberantly that Obama’s agenda is off the table while we forget that Trump’s agenda is also might not be God’s agenda.

We only exchange one tyranny for another if we put our hope in Donald Trump.

People of God must be humble in our gratitude for this election outcome, and we must not overload Donald Trump by inappropriately putting our hope for the future of the USA in him. We must continue to hope only in God. Donald Trump will, I believe, be a good president, but he is still only a man. He will make mistakes. He will disappoint people who prayed that he be elected. His administration could ultimately be a terrible blot on the history of the USA (As Ahab’s reign was a terrible blot on the history of Israel) unless the people who prayed for this election continue to pray for America.

A lot of people prayed for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, because they felt that she would surely continue to lead the country in the same wrong direction that Obama traveled. Donald Trump campaigned on  taking the country in a different direction. However, a different wrong direction is still wrong. Whoever prayed that God would give us a president who would put us on the right path must continue to pray that God will guide our new president in everything he does. We must be his prayer warriors to invoke God’s guidance in all that he says and does.

We give thanks for the hope that our country will turn away from the path to destruction on which Barack Obama was embarked, but we must pray every day that our new president be protected from the temptation simply to take us down a different wrong path. We must put our hope for a blessed, safe, and prosperous future in God Almighty, not in Donald Trump.

Pray for Donald Trump. Pray for his administration. Pray every day for America.

Everybody Should Rethink Trump

My dad was good at asking me to “think again.” When he said it, he meant that I had not thought enough about the answer to a question.

The question everyone is asking right now is, “Who should be the next president of the USA?” Given the rhetoric of election coverage, I am led to say, “Think again!” because I do not believe that people have given sufficient thought to the consequences of their votes. Yesterday, Erick Erickson said the same thing.

I have learned to respect Erick Erickson over the past two years. He has consistently taken the high ground in the battle over numerous decisions within the Republican party. No matter where he stands, he always tells his readers why he is standing there. When Trump took the Republican nomination, Erickson declared his position and the reasons for his position, and I felt sure that even if I did not agree with his conclusion, I surely could respect the process of decision-making that put him there.

Yesterday Erick wrote another chapter in his ongoing process of determining how he will vote on Election Day. Once again, I was compelled to ask myself the questions Erick asked, and I was compelled to answer them. There is no longer any justification for postponing a decision, because the election is upon us. Early voting will start in about a month. It is time for voters to choose their poison. It is time for everyone to rethink what a vote means, whether cast for Hillary or Donald. (I really can’t compare Hillary to Trump, even though those monikers have become the norm. Maybe it is part of my problem with contemporary culture. For me, it is either Hillary and Donald, or Clinton and Trump.)

As Erickson laid out his concerns for the outcome of the presidential election, he said, “Clinton as President will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.” To be perfectly honest, I thought this sad conclusion had already occurred. When I contemplate same-sex marriage, gender confusion, transgender training for the military, and a federal insistence on the immigration of Islamic terrorists, I truly find myself thinking I have already gone through the looking-glass. Is it even possible that things will get worse?

Sadly, as Erick Erickson points out, the answer is, “We have only just begun.” He discusses the current state of social chaos in great depth. Then he looks closely at Trump, the choice who presumably stands for traditional values, and says,” Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.”

Whoa! That certainly is a problem. What exactly does Scripture say? “Purge the evil person from among you.” Apparently a person who said he never had anything to repent of would be an evil person, because Scripture says, “All have sinned.” It appears that Mr. Trump is guilty both of being a sinner and of lying about it. That is not good.

However, Erickson is not engaging in judgmental hypocrisy, the usual complaint leveled by secular thinkers against Christians. He is not interested in making Donald Trump look like a bad candidate. He says, “The whole purpose of shunning the unrepenant [sic] sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent.” Erickson asks Christians to consider what it means for them to gather around Donald Trump and cheer for his success if it prevents him from repenting and receiving Christ.

Erick Erickson is asking Christians to put the kingdom of God ahead of everything else. He is holding up the words of Jesus “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and who among the Christian community can ignore this warning.

Erickson’s concern for Donald Trump’s soul does not lead him to conclude he should vote for Hillary Clinton. He says, “I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.” Whether I think as a secular voter or as a devoted Christian, I concur with Erickson’s view of Hillary. She is a threat to everything most Americans value.

Yet Erickson says of Donald Trump, “I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.” This is not a trivial self-serving judgment. It is the conclusion of a man who has looked into the truth revealed by God himself and tried to apply that truth wisely.

Clearly, Erick is not comforted by this conclusion. Clearly, his fears for the outcome in our nation if Hillary Clinton becomes president drove him to reconsider his #NeverTrump position. Clearly, this thought process was both analytical and prayerful.

It is this process that inspires my emulation. I consider myself a thoughtful, prayerful Christian. I want to be faithful and obedient to God’s truth as revealed in his holy Word. It may not be easy being green, but being green is easier than being an obedient Christian faced with a thorny moral choice.

Before I read this post, I had gone down that thorny path with great trepidation. I had concluded that the real choice for a Christian is, what becomes of our country? I comforted myself by saying, If I cannot ask what is best for our country, I can ask what is worst and do the other thing. However, Erick Erickson has brought me face to face with an important truth: God’s kingdom must come first.

It really is odd how the Holy Spirit works. On Sunday, the children’s sermon at church centered on the question: What comes first? After a number of object lessons about the consequences of putting the wrong thing first, the presenter held up a wooden cross and asked, “What does God want us to put first?” The answer was, “The cross.”

On Wednesday, I read this post and then went to a Bible study. As it turned out, the key verse in that Bible study was. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” It seems to me that God is hammering home a truth: he and his kingdom transcend whatever might happen to the country if either Hillary or Donald becomes president. We all know, or think we know, that one of them is sure to be the president after all the dust settles. We all know, or think we know, that third party candidates never win. Therefore, leaving God out of the equation, we analyze the political situation and then choose the candidate that will, we hope, do the least harm.

Erickson is warning us that this is a stupid way to vote if we are really Christians. The Bible is very clear that a lot of people claim the name without submitting to the Lordship of Christ—that is to say that they join the club, but they do not aspire to its goals; they just like the snacks and jokes after worship on Sunday. Erickson is reminding us that if Christ is Lord, and if we have put God’s kingdom first in our lives, we will not vote—or choose a job or get married or buy shoes or choose summer camp for the kids—without putting God’s kingdom ahead of whatever personal comfort might arise from any of those choices. Erickson is reminding us that all our choices, no matter how small, must be subject to the King of Kings and his kingdom. We are certainly not to choose our president based on whether we would like to be persecuted for our belief in Christ; we are to make our choice by asking, what advances God’s kingdom.

Jesus said that there is more joy in heaven when one sinner repents than over a thousand who do not need to repent. That statement suggests that for the church to suffer persecution, because Hillary becomes president is not sufficient justification for a Christian to vote for Donald Trump if we understand that vote to propel him into continued unwillingness to repent, because he feels he has nothing for which to repent. Erickson seems to believe that Trump’s pride keeps him from confessing and repenting his sin. On that basis he says, “ I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.”

If I reach the conclusion that a vote for Donald Trump harms my witness or risks the candidate’s soul, I will agree with Erickson. I am thinking again, and I am prayerfully considering every word Erick Erickson wrote. I recommend you do the same.


By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016.