Love suffers long and is kind… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~Saint Paul
“What punishments of God are not gifts?” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien.
I know you are looking at what happened last Tuesday and see that it is being widely reported that 81% of white evangelicals voted to elected Donald Trump as president. I am white and an evangelical and, while I didn’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, my cohort voted to make him our leader.
I have something to say to you about that.
I can’t do anything about what Mr. Trump does in office. I can’t do anything about the fact that my tribe was crucial for him getting elected. But, now that he is our president, I will pray for him and grieve the choices that helped put him in the highest office of our land.
For you, perhaps, the future does not look good. I make the following promise to you as I follow the Carpenter from Nazareth:
I promise to you to be kind to those who don’t agree with me. This is hard, for I am a passionate man and do not suffer disagreements with my world views well. But going forward I pledge I will pray for my enemies. I will love them the way Jesus loved His enemies all the way to that point on the cross where he whispered with a hoarse voice, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I promise to be kind.
I promise to be careful with my words. I realize what Jesus said that it is not what comes out of our mouths that is the problem, that what comes out of our mouths is only an indication of what is already in our hearts. My pledge to you is to submit my heart to the hand of God to massage and press out of my heart the poison that would leak out in words and thus do harm to you or anyone in this world. I promise to be work on my heart and be careful with my words.
I promise to humble myself. I will make obscurity my friend. I will seek out ways to not be known. Not out of shame or hiding, but out of respect for how God has restored my life. Hubris is a drug for me and it is just as deadly as cocaine. I will be small to stay connected to a large God. If you see me promising more than I can deliver, if you see me behaving in ways that make you think that you can’t talk to me about a flaw in my character, show me these words I have written and remind me that I gave you permission to challenge me. I will look for ways to serve my world in anonymity. I promise to live a life of smallness.
I promise to love and respect your mother and serve her the rest of my life and by extension all women everywhere. Especially Ashley, Rachel, and Mindy—the women that you have pledged your life to. I want all of these women and my granddaughters to know down to the core of their being that there is a white evangelical man who will never objectify them or talk down to and about them and their sisters on this planet. I will get her coffee in the mornings. I will fix her dinner in the evenings. I will open the door for her. I will clean off the snow from her windshield here in the mountains. I will pump her gas. I will love her, protect her, and submit to her when she is right. I promise to treat her and all women with respect.
I promise to embrace people of color. They are precious to our Lord. I will go out of my way to communicate that they matter to me. That they don’t have to fear being around me. That if they need anything and I can give it to them I will do everything I can to see that they are well-cared for.
Jesus showed me the way in this. He was kind to people of color, for He was a person of color. He was a mid-eastern man. He loved the oppressors (Romans). He loved the mixed races (Samaritans) He loved and accepted the sexually confused. He loved the immigrants. He loved the diseased. He loved the poor. I promise I will love and embrace your friends exactly the way they are without trying to change them. They will never be condemned or mocked by me. I will love them; for I love you. They have intrinsic value as they are without changing one iota.
And I promise to never, ever mock a person of disabilities. Or defend anyone who does.
My fear is that you will never hear the soft sound of sandaled feet approach you with gentleness and grace and call your name softly and tenderly and that you will never know the Jesus that I talk to every day.
Don’t say no to Jesus because so many of my tribe said yes to Mr.Trump.
Look at this 59-year-old white man who loves Jesus of Nazareth with all his heart.
Look at me. Look at me.
I would lay down my life for you Cole and Ashley, Clinton and Rachel, and Caleb and Mindy.
Follow me as I follow Jesus.
These are my promises, so help me God.
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. ~ Frederick Buechner