There is a kind of Christian who believes all good things come from above, and all bad from below. But as Job said, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” The reality is, God sometimes sends bad things, even to His most faithful people. Christians who don’t accept this do not know their Bible, and when the chips are down they tend to find out their faith is lukewarm and shallow.
God speaks everything into existence. That includes evil things. The Bible says so clearly, in many places. God does this not for evil, but for good. He tests us. Sometimes His testing comes in the form of a choice between two evils. By forcing us to make such choices, God teaches us to trust that all things work together for the good of those who love him. Perhaps the most famous Biblical example is the story of Isaac’s sacrifice, in which God forces Abraham to choose between disobedience to God, and the human sacrifice of his own son.
Obviously, choices like that are tough. Fortunately for us, God’s main concern is with what is in the heart. So in times of trouble Christians would be wise not to judge anyone who, with a heartfelt desire to please God, chooses what they believe to be the lesser of two evils…not even when it seems obvious to us they’ve chosen wrongly.
I was reminded of this by a Christian who seems to have forgotten it. Andy Crouch, who is executive editor of Christianity Today, recently wrote the following in that publication:
“Most Christians who support [Presidential candidate Donald] Trump have done so with reluctant strategic calculation…but there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails.
So, here we have an influential Christian publicly accusing other Christians of a terrible sin, merely because he disagrees with their political choice. If Mr. Crouch had simply condemned Donald Trump’s obvious misogyny, immoral lifestyle, bullying behavior, and foul mouth, I would have heartily agreed. But Mr. Crouch wants me to know if I vote for Trump, I will become no better than Trump. I will commit idolatry. I’ll be “in defiance of God.” A vote for Donald Trump is no different from placing faith in Trump to save me, as if stepping into the voting booth for Trump is the modern equivalent of bringing sacrifices to the altar of Beelzebub.
For the vast majority of Christians I know, a vote for Trump will be just that: a vote. It’s not a declaration that Donald Trump is their personal Lord and Savior.
For the vast majority of Christians I know, a vote for Trump will be just that: a vote. It’s not a declaration that Donald Trump is their personal Lord and Savior. It’s not even a vote of confidence in Trump. On the contrary, most Christians I know who plan to vote for Trump are convinced “the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed” would be worse off after a Trump Presidency. But they’re also convinced the results for such people would be even worse after a Clinton Presidency. They’re not idolaters, placing faith in a man or in the political system. They’re just sinners, doing the best they can to please their Father with their actions in spite of the fact that right now, in America, we’ve been cursed with two horrific choices.
A little later in the same opinion piece, Mr. Crouch writes, “Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord.” But I wonder what our neighbors think when Christians question each other’s faith because of politics? Shouldn’t Christians of all people avoid the slander and ugly insults that have become the norm between other Americans in this election cycle?
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” Andy Crouch, all the editors at Christianity Today, and you, and me, and every Christian everywhere would do well to remember that.