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How Can I Resist the Age of Trump with the Love of Jesus?

Denial is giving way to harsh reality. This is really happening. Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States for the next four years. A Trump presidency threatens the safety and well-being of women, religious and ethnic minorities, immigrants, the LGBT community, and the poor. With its belligerent denial of climate change, the Trump regime represents a potentially catastrophic threat to the future of all life. Thanks to the increasing militarization and surveillance of our society under presidents Bush and Obama, this new administration is positioned to carry out a reign of fear and oppression.

When I contemplate where we’re at as a country, and what is likely to come in the months ahead, it’s hard to avoid the twin opiates of panic and denial. Each of us has our own personal favorite, but both of these reactions are a dodge from the hard work of looking reality square in the face. We are soon to be living under a Trump presidency. The level of brutality and injustice in our country, already at danger levels, are about to soar.

The reasonable, respectable voices of denial assure us that “everything will be alright.” But we know that’s not true. Things never were alright, and this election has made this reality plain for anyone with eyes to see. We have the dubious fortune to be alive in a moment of national and planetary crisis. We have every reason to be alarmed.

There are other voices – those of panic and despair –  that are ready to insist that Trump is already virtually invincible. Fascism is ascendent, they say, and the only way to defeat it is with a show of brute force. Few are making overt calls for revolutionary violence yet, but the dog whistles are already blaring on social media. Many on the Left and the Right are gearing up for armed conflict. Their caustic rhetoric ramps up a sense of dread and terror. It prepares us for violence.

This road is a tempting one for me. When I am pushed, I naturally want to push back. And the proto-fascist supporters of Trumpism are pushing very hard right now.

As a follower of Jesus, however, I am committed to a path of nonviolent resistance to evil. God has given us the example of the suffering servant Jesus, who faced humiliation and death at the hands of Empire. He spoke the truth fiercely. Jesus stood with the weak, the outsider, the poor. But when it came time to choose the manner of his revolution, Jesus renounced the sword and took up the cross. Through his death and resurrection, God reveals his power to redeem the evil of this world. Through the cross of Jesus, we discover a path that transforms enemies. God heals the world through the blood of the martyrs.

The way of Jesus is not merely one of embracing unjust suffering. In a way, that would be easy. We could accept the blows of evildoers, all the while feeling ourselves superior. We would not physically attack our enemies, but spiritually we would murder them.

The way of Jesus is so much more powerful than a smug pacifism that judges enemies while refusing to dirty its hands with fighting them. The way of Jesus is a struggle; it’s a very real warfare. It’s a war for our own hearts, and the hearts of those who oppress us. As insane as it may sound – as much as it goes against my own natural tendencies – we are called into a path that seeks the redemption and wholeness of our enemies. That includes Donald Trump, his evil counselors, and his millions of deceived followers.

The way of Jesus never cedes ground to evil. Just as Christ openly defied the Pharisees and the priestly rulers, you and I are called to put our lives on the line. We’re called to disrupt the systems of oppression that hold back grace and healing from the “least of these” in our society. We are also called to pray for those who persecute us. We are tasked not only with justice for the poor, but simultaneously with steadfast prayer and supplication for the salvation of oppressors.

Maybe this sounded like a more “realistic” path a few months ago, back when many of us assumed that Donald Trump could never actually become president. Maybe loving our enemies seems more palatable when our enemies are already defeated. But that’s a cheap gospel of personal convenience and comfort. It is precisely in this moment, as evil rises and our freedom and safety come under threat, that it is most critical that we obey Jesus when he tells us to love our enemies.

We have real enemies now. We know who they are, and their evil plans are clearer than ever. And we must love them. Even as we hold them accountable. Even as we stand against their brazen attacks on our liberty and safety, we are commanded to love them. This means speaking to the inward witness of Christ within Donald Trump, his regime, and the millions of ordinary Americans who have put their trust in him. We are called to love them, even as they mock us, hurl insults, and threaten us.

We are called to love our enemies as we resist them. In Christ the aim of resistance is to bring about healing and redemption for the whole of the creation. This creation includes even those who are most visibly twisted by evil. Our warfare – the Lamb’s War – takes no prisoners. Each and every one of us is to be redeemed and restored in the light and power of Jesus.

This is a challenging path, to put it mildly! The most difficult part for me at this moment is discerning what specific, concrete actions God is calling me to take to resist the spread of white supremacy, misogyny, and destruction of the earth. How do I work against the spread of this culture of death, while never allowing myself to use death’s own weapons? How do I fight fire – not with fire, but with the cleansing water of Christ’s love?

These are no longer theoretical questions, if they ever were. The time has come for us to make the reign of God visible in bold, radical, faithful ways that shake us out of the stupor of panic and denial. What does it look like to invite others into the fiery, prophetic, and loving way of Jesus?

Related Posts:

Jesus is Lord. Trump is Not.

Trump Will Be President. We Must Resist.

  • Diane Benton

    As I see it, two things make it hard to hear God: 1. Participating in a system that uses force or the threat of force to bend the minority to the will of the majority. 2. Seeing some people as enemies.

    • Certainly agree with #1. As for #2, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not pretend that we don’t have them. For me, first step towards peace is recognizing that we don’t have it yet.

  • Diane Benton

    Who’s pretending? Continuing revelation moves beyond dualism.

    • Tell that to the city fathers of Carthage.

      • Diane Benton

        How would that help to better hear God?

  • Dorlan Bales

    Thanks for these reflections, Micah. Resisting evil while
    praying for those who are captives of fear and hatred is possible only by the
    power of God.

  • There is another temptation we must resist, however. It’s the idea that our Christian beliefs give us some sort of superior truth; superior or better than the beliefs of others who are not Christian. Deep and true pacifism has been found and practiced by people of all religious persuasions. Perhaps Christ’s living presence and work in the world is so powerful that others may feel and perceive it inwardly and outwardly without applying “god-talk” or the specific ‘branding’ (language) of the Christian faith?

  • Keith Saylor

    “How do I work against the spread of this culture of death, while never allowing myself to use death’s own weapons? How do I fight fire – not with fire, but with the cleansing water of Christ’s love?”

    The culture of death is the process of identification with and faith in all outward political, religion, and economic ideologies, creeds, agendas, platforms, and the professors or preachers of the same. The way to bring balm to the this culture of death in our day is the same way Christ did in his day. He did not turn to outward military weaponry and he did not turn to outward ideological or institutional weapons. He laid down all outward forms.

    In the same way there is another way for us today. It is the way out of the culture of death. This way is founded upon the direct experience of inshining immanent Presence (the Spirit of Christ) anchoring our conscious and informing our conscience so that our identity, meaning, and purpose, is in immanent Presence itself in itself in all circumstances. In immanent Presence (Christ’s Love and Grace) all outward ideological and institutional forms designed to govern human relationships and interactions are laid down and immanent Presence itself becomes our sole rule and government. This act of dependence upon immanent Presence itself in itself inshining into our conscious and conscience is the cleansing water of Christ’s love on this earth. This act and process of identification in and through immanent Presence itself is the cultural of Life. This culture of Life suffers all things the culture of death manifests and in this long-suffering breaks the natural cycle of identification with outward political, religious, and economic, forms wherein hate nurture love and love nurtures hate, wherein peace nurtures war and war nurtures peace.

    In our day, in this moment, in this time, it is ours to advance the laying down of outward political, religious, and economic ideological and institutional weapons. It is ours the lay down all identification with political agendas, religious creeds, etc. and wait upon our establishment in inshining Presence itself in itself as sufficient and complete to rule and govern. Without judgement of those who are not of this waiting Spirit.

    The very activity of being that IS by the power of immanent Presence itself in itself inshining into the conscious and conscience is resistance to the cultural of Death which is identification with and wielding of outward military weapons and outward political, religious, and economic, weapons or forms. This very act is the laying down of outward military, ideological, and institutional, weapons of fire and the acting in the cleansing waters of Christ’s love. This very act of laying down all outward forms as the foundation of human politicalships, religionships, relationships and interactions in deference to our spiritual heritage of the sufficiency of immanent Grace the shattering of the cycle of the cultural of Death and the coming into the culture of Life which is heaven itself in itself.

  • Douglas Marvi Vaughn

    I feel we need to arrange a Friendly presence in Washington DC. I was thinking on March 1st, 2017. We could meet and hold Congress in the light. To do this we would have to request gallery passes from our Congress person. It is also important to verify that Congress is in session. Some Friends are attempting a Test Run this week. Will update as I know more.

  • Rainer Moeller

    Mr. Bales, I read this at first on “mennoworld” and tried to respond, but don’t know if I was successful.
    Imho you underestimate the fact that a lot of your rightwing opponents felt as unsafe and endangered under Obama as you feel now.
    So the practical way would be to come to an agreement between both sides about what is, and what is not, acceptable in political conflicts, what may be done and what may not be done against the opponent. The next step would be to build up a common fund to remunerate activists from both sides who have been maltreated in an unacceptable way by their opponents. This is not impossible and as you live in Washington, you have the best opportunities to get into contact with people on the other side of the political spectrum.