I am praying for Donald Trump, and not simply because he may be the next president of the United States of America. I have struggled with bitterness in my heart toward this man. Every time I see his face or read his comments, I find myself wishing that he would just go away. I keep asking myself how people follow this man. He has displayed poor character, he is purposely abrasive, his rhetoric is divisive, and he appeals to the very worst in people. I have found myself giving the side-eye to everyone who voices support for him. I want to cast him off. I want to retaliate. I would like him to be banished into obscurity. I would like to see my fellow citizens who support him awakened from their drunken stupor.

It’s scary, but I realized I had done the very thing that I accused Donald Trump of doing. I denied him his humanity. I failed to esteem him as an image bearer of God. May God help us to weep over the souls of lost men and women as we intercede for them before the throne of grace! This has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Common Sin
The ugly truth is I have a lot more in common with Donald Trump than I care to admit. He has said racially charged divisive things — so have I. He has displayed poor character — so have I. He has shunned reconciliation, and instead attacked his accusers — so have I. He has been disrespectful towards women, and to my own shame, I tell you I have been guilty of doing the same.

I have no merit. I have no righteousness of my own. I deserved to be cast under the weight of the just wrath of God for all of eternity, but God determined before the earth’s foundation that I would be His. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a man and died in my place. He satisfied the wrath of God on my behalf. His Spirit has caused me to be born again into the family of God where I am learning with the rest of the saints to understand the love the God. I am eternally embraced by the Father through the perfect person and work of the Son.

This may come off as elementary to some of you, but I must be reminded of God’s grace and mercy daily. If not, I am prone to become the very thing that I oppose.

Acceptable Sin
What complicates matters further is that I can disguise my bitterness as moral outrage and be applauded for it. It may be acceptable to attack and denigrate men like Donald Trump, but it is Christ-like to pray for them. If we as Christians harbor bitterness in our hearts towards others, we deny the grace of God that has been so lavishly poured out on us in Christ. What if we started to pray that God would open our eyes and soften our hearts to see people as he does? What if we set our hearts to earnestly pray for those who actively oppose us? What if we began to dignify those who fail to dignify us? What if we humbly faced the reality that what offends us also reveals us?

The scandalous nature of God’s grace is that He has chosen to eternally love an unworthy, immoral, rebellious, idolatrous, unfaithful people. I didn’t realize it, but I had written Donald Trump off as irredeemable. That’s not my call to make. Yes, it is difficult to have compassion on people who seem to have no compassion. It is easy to justify the bitterness and lack of forgiveness towards them, but the grace of God pushes us out of our comfort zones and empowers us to be imitators of God.

A Call to Prayer
In his commentary on the command of Jesus to love our enemies, John Calvin wrote, “For no man will fulfill this precept, until he gives up the love of himself, or denies himself; until he sees others as bound by God with himself, and so goes ahead to love those who hate him. We learn from these words that the faithful should have nothing to do with revenge: they ought to wipe it out of their souls, so that they will not only be kept from praying to God for it, but will even pray him for the good of their enemies. Meanwhile, they do not fail to commit their cause to God, to let him punish the reprobate; but they still desire to do all they can to restore the wicked to a sound mind, so that they may not perish; and they consider how they may be saved.”

We must continue to stand for righteousness and speak out against the injustices of our day. Let us be bold in our confrontation of evil and corruption. However, let us not forget that we are to do so as representatives of the kingdom of God. Our tone must not be marked by vengeance, but by a desire for reconciliation, for that is the message and ministry that we have been given.

I cannot control what men like Donald Trump say and do. I have a hard time controlling some of the things that I say and do. What I can do is pray Donald Trump’s eyes would be opened to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and that he would be brought to faith and repentance by the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you are already praying. Maybe this post is unnecessary. Maybe you don’t share my struggle. Maybe not.

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