I would like to make seven appeals to those evangelicals who have followed Donald Trump these last five years and voted for him twice.
First, I want to appeal to you to return to a first love for the kingdom of God above all other loves and loyalties.
If you believe that does not apply to you, perhaps you might join me in renewing that singular love.
One of the most profound letters to the churches is the surprising accusation Jesus laid at the feet of the Ephesian church. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus said, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
The temptation to idolatry is constant – often subtle but real. If we learn anything from the Hebrew Bible, it is the many different ways idolatry presented itself.
So, we all need to make sure our individual lives, church fellowships and families are anchored deeply in our love and loyalty to Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Kingdom of God.
Second, in renewing or reclaiming our first love, let us also pivot to be done with anything less than the truth.
Truth is referenced 224 times in the Scriptures. It is the only way for the people of God.
We hold the Scriptures as true, revealing the holiness, righteousness and character of God, as well as what God wants for God’s people. Truth is the bedrock of our faith and must be the bedrock of our life together as a community and society and nation.
That commitment will require us to check our sources (not everything on social media is true). Not everything we feel is true. Not everything we believe or want to believe is true.
In the last few years, truth has been discarded in order to serve other priorities rooted in power, privilege and wealth.
Believers cannot allow themselves to be seduced by half-truths, conspiracy theories, lies and misrepresentations. We can disagree on what the truth means, but we cannot select our own “facts.”
Third, we must recover our understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
I defer to the late Dallas Willard and his biblical definition of this work, “I am learning to lead my life, like Jesus would lead my life, if He were me.”
That is our mandate and, if you will, our marching order. Anything less diverts us from our first responsibility.
Our spouses, children, extended family, church family and community must see that “leading” evolving in our lives across our lifetime.
Fourth, we must refocus on reproducing in our lives the character of Christ.
This Christlike character is exemplified in Galatians 5:22-23’s fruit of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
We should give particular focus on “love, kindness, goodness and gentleness.”
Fifth, we need to see “others” like Jesus did.
My pastor has recently reminded our church of a recurring phrase in Revelation: “from every tribe and language, and people and nation.”
Our pastor doubles down on how expansive the love of God is. It is exhaustive, inclusive, without limits and reminds us that no living person is outside the love of Christ.
When I taught a Bible Study class, I reminded our class often that we will spend thousands and millions of dollars to introduce people to Christ – in other countries.
Yet, sharing Christ does not need a passport, a plane ticket, 7-10 days for a mission trip somewhere halfway around the world. It is as easy as talking to the people we encounter every day.
Sixth, I want to appeal to evangelical leaders and pastors to lay down their culture war and turn their congregation back to the trauma facing an increasing number of individuals, couples and families.
In these last four years, my clinical practice has increasingly turned to survivors of trauma and couples who cannot move forward together without intractable conflict.
We are in an epidemic of child abuse and domestic abuse, and church leaders need to turn their attention to doing the hard work of making disciples, healing marriages and redeeming families.
Finally, let us do our part to depoliticize COVID-19 and support efforts to manage this real, deadly pandemic.
We should feel profound grief over the 400,000 people in the U.S. have succumbed to this terrible, unpredictable virus.
Pandemic mitigation efforts have been critiqued by some Christians as infringements on their First Amendment rights. This is misguided. Efforts to curtail the spread of the virus is a profound community issue.
Christians should be leading our communities to consider others, to protect others, and to help and prayerfully support our frontline defenders. More than that, we need to make sure the most vulnerable among us are protected by vaccines and with access to the medical care they need.
What happens next with the evangelical believers will influence efforts to repair, heal and bind up the wounds of this nation. We must work to stop the spread not only of the virus but also of the toxic words and actions which have poisoned our national life.
Wash your hands, wear your mask for others, mind the gap and be kind with a single focus on God’s reign.