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Cut it out!

I have noticed all over social media for some time the hashtag #NotMyPresident.

Both sides. Do your own search on Twitter. You’ll find those who reject President Obama and others who reject President-elect Trump. Democrats. Republicans. Libertarians. Independents. Men. Women. Old. Young.

As I was told as a child, “Cut it out!”

Two observations…

If you are a citizen of the United States of America, you have a President. Mr. Obama is your President until January 20th. As of January 20th, you will have a new President, Mr. Trump. You had a vote when Mr. Obama was elected President twice. You had a vote when Mr. Trump was elected President in November. You voted (hopefully). So did millions more in individual states which were duly represented in the Electoral College. The Congress ratified the Electoral College vote on January 6th, 2017. Fellow citizens, you do have a President and you will have a President. He (either Mr. Obama or Mr. Trump) is our President. Period. If you don’t like that, then you renounce your citizenship. Then, you will not have a President Obama or a future President Trump – it’s that simple.

God is not honored when we attack people instead of the problems in which they are entangled. You do not have to agree with either President Obama or the future President Trump. In fact, my guess is there isn’t one reader of this blog that agrees with either one of these men 100% of the time. In reality, there may be significant issues you have with the character of one man or the other. You may not like one thing or one thousand things. Your opinion may be that you do not like the person, or policies of one or the other, or both, 100% of the time.

The level of your disagreement, although significant, does not change your responsibility toward anyone. You have several responsibilities for which to be mindful. Let me suggest three.

First, you are required to respect the office of the President of the United States (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). The failure to honor the President, no matter who that is, is sin. You honor the President because it brings glory to God as a servant of God. Honoring a man in office does not equate to agreeing with him in everything. If you know me personally, you know that I have disagreed on many levels with Mr. Obama. At times over the past eight years, no doubt I have not been as respectful as I should have been both publicly and privately. In those incidences, I have been sinful. There is no doubt in my mind that there are going to be many times when I disagree with Mr. Trump. In either case, I cannot honor God and dishonor the President at the same time.

Second, when you disagree with someone, it is appropriate to attack the problem not attack the person (Ephesians 4:29-30). You attack the problem when you discuss the problem. You keep your attention focused on whatever issue is at hand. You attack the person when you use language that is derogatory of the person rather than what focuses on the issue. For instance, if you disagree with Mr. Obama’s policy toward Israel, you would say, “The Presidents policy toward Israel is wrong based on these three reasons…” This attacks the problem. It attacks the person if one were to say, “We have never had a more stupid President than Mr. Obama and it is evident when it comes to his policy on Israel.” Here, you have attacked the person.

What about Mr. Trump? This is an even more important issue because so many have criticized his character. Even in these instances though, you must limit your observation to the issue of character, not calling him a character. The best way to do this is to focus on what was said or done. Deal with what was heard or read. Focus on what the observed actions were in a particular incidence. For instance, “When Mr. Trump wrote, ‘….,’ this statement was wrong.” This deals with what was said or done. It would be wrong to say, “That bigot Trump…” or “Mr. Trump is insane; this is what he said…” or “He is crazy.” Any of these ad hominem attacks attack the character, motive, or something else about the person rather than deal with the issue. In all of these instances, it is sinful.

To be clear, dealing with the issue is not sinful. In fact, to not deal with some issues may be sinful. But to attack the person instead of the problem is sinful. It is that simple. We can and must do better; God must be honored formally and functionally in our words, actions, and motives.

Third, we are to be known as Christ-followers by our love (Ephesians 5:1-2; cf. John 13:34-35). Our actions, words, and attitudes must be loving like Christ’s. It is imperative that we hold each other to the high standard of Christlikeness. We should be known for our holy compassion, mercy, grace, and love. We should never be known for our poor spirits, hateful attitudes, and disdain for people – regardless of who our President is. This has been true for eight years of Mr. Obama’s presidency; it will be true for every day of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Will you commit now to doing better?
Will you encourage others to join you?
Will you seek to honor God in your response to our current President and the President-elect?
Will you admit where you have been wrong and vow to change it?
Let’s together make our part of social media more to the glory of God.