Among the many effects of the Trump Train, was the illumination of the great Christian divide. Conservative followers were willing to forgive character flaws in exchange for social slide to the right. Liberal churches and their members saw Trump’s moral question marks as further evidence that Hillary was the right choice. Maybe both wings of the church can learn something from Trump.
a. There’s a hunger for the message. Americans sense that America is no longer great; they yearn for a return to a perceived prior greatness. Trumps opponents fatally failed to recognize that hunger.
It will be great if America can become greater, whatever that means. Even if that happens, we won’t find the satisfaction we seek. Our hunger isn’t fueled by a national malaise, but a personal emptiness. Only Jesus will fill that. Without Him, hunger remains and the Word has an eager audience.
b. It’s not you. It’s your message. Trumps opponents made the mistake of paying too much attention to Trump. He’s brash, inarticulate, obnoxious, with bad hair. It was never about him. It was his message.
It also wasn’t about Moses, or John the Baptist or Paul. We are all imperfect messengers. It’s always about the message, the God-man Jesus, who shines through the grimiest messenger. Are we worthy proclaimers of the Word? Of course not, and that’s exactly the point.
c. Your past is past. Trump’s enemies thought his past bad behavior would doom him. What they didn’t realize was that we all have pasts we regret, things we wish we wouldn’t have said or done. We actually relate better to those with a past in some ways like our own.
That’s why the “biggest” sinners are the best witnesses for Jesus. The miracle of the new birth is most obvious, when the old person was the least worth. All have sinned and fallen short; some are just more dramatic.
d. You’re not too rich. You would think that most Americans couldn’t relate to a billionaire. Donald Trump’s life isn’t much like mine or yours. That didn’t slow him down.
There’s world out there that needs Jesus. The greatest needs are among people very unlike us. Jesus is least known in muslim or hindu cultures among people who make less in a year than we do in a day. These differences seem insurmountable. They are not. We have Jesus to share and we are not too rich or too white or too American to do that.
e. Talk to the People. If Donald Trump had relied on the professional “main stream” media, his message would have been dead in the water. He went directly to the people via social media and mass meetings. Unlikely spoke persons, like Diamond and Silk, helped pull and push the Trump train. People who had never voted before came out for Trump. It truly is a movement.
Jesus’ plan was never to spread the word though media, professional speakers, or international denominations. It was always meant to be a person-to-person communication stream. Making disciples is a one-one-one enterprise. You don’t recognize the wonder of new birth until you know personally and intimately someone who has been reborn.
Whether we admire or abhor Donald Trump, we can learn from him. We have the message of the ages: Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our history, our blindness, our imperfects and our misdirections aren’t enough to stifle the message. We can rely on the same thing Donald did, our availability in spite of our lack of ability.