Josh Byers


Writing about books, culture, ministry, design and my family

Three Ways We Can Propel the Gospel Forward in Light of the Election

This is the Epilogue of being #NeverTrump.

The only time I think I've been more shocked than when I realized Trump was going to win, was when our first child came out a girl after an ultrasound tech a few months earlier had given us a picture with boy parts circled...

Just as it was all those years ago the shock is wearing off and the question becomes what now?

I think its important to state that my position of being #NeverTrump was never about his ability to win or lose (though I did think he would lose). Rather it was a stand against what I believe (and still do) disqualifies him from a high leadership position. Even though I generally agree with the Republican platform, character should always "trump" issues. If you're a con-man and moral reprobate in character, you'll typically be a con-man and moral reprobate on the issues too.

That said, I hope I'm as wrong about Donald Trump as a leader and president as I was about the chances of him being president. I will continue to fight for conservative causes and will absolutely hold him accountable for the things he says and does.

But again the question remains what now?

For me as a Christian first and American citizen second, the answer is to look for ways to continue to propel the inclusive message of the gospel forward.

So here are three ways we can propel the gospel forward in light of this election.

1. Be Humble and Empathize

You must be gracious and give grace to those who you oppose.

If Hillary had won those on Trump's side would not want the victory rubbed in their faces. You would not want to see gloating Facebook posts and nasty memes.

In the past 24 hours I've scanned through thousands of tweets and have read dozens of articles and one of the most encouraging came from one of Hillary's most ardent supporters Mark Cuban. 

We all need to give President-Elect Trump a chance. Support the good. Lobby against what we disagree on. No one is bigger than us all
— Mark Cuban

That was an amazing display of humility and leadership in the light of a crushing loss and we would all be good to emulate his example.

We also must empathize. There are a lot of people who are very nervous right now given what Trump has said and done during his campaign. Whether you think their fear is rational or irrational isn’t the point. It’s real to them and we would be wise for the sake of their soul to cover them with a grace and empathy that only comes from the gospel. 

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
— 1 Peter 3:8-9

Be compassionate towards your brothers in arms.

I disagreed with many very close friends and others over Trump's candidacy. They didn't stand for his moral character, but believed the best path forward for the country was to make sure Hillary was not put into a position of power. Though I disagree with their solution I respect their motivation. It would be an absolute travesty that the divisions fracturing America would also cause a permeant break among fellow Christians. We must remember we are trying to win the world and not just an election.

2. Pray and Give Thanks for Our Leaders

As Christians we are commanded to pray those who in a position of authority above us. 

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
— 1 Tim 2:1-4

I think its striking that Paul instructs Timothy to not only pray for those in authority, but to also be thankful for them. This admittedly is harder with some people, but remember Paul lived at a time when Nero, one of the vilest, and most bloodthirsty emperors was in power.

Most of us, even if you voted for Trump have strong reservations about how he will lead, but we must pray and find ways to be thankful for him. This would have been no different if Hillary had been elected.

And why? Because when we humble ourselves to pray and give thanks for our leaders, people around us are saved and come to the knowledge of truth.

I'm extremely encouraged by those in leadership positions that are already being an example. And these people are not just in leadership positions but have been some of the most outspoken against Trump.

My family and I just prayed that President-Elect Trump will be wise and faithful in his new vocation. We call on all Americans to as well.
— Senator Ben Sasse
Congratulations on your victory @realDonaldTrump. As our President, Columba and I will pray for you in the days and months to come.
— Former Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush

If these guys can be gracious and public in their prayers so can we.

3. Keep the Gospel in the Center of Your Life

This last Sunday we had special service that focused on praying for the election and our country. One of my favorite parts was a testimony given by one of our members Joe Crisp. He spoke primarily about the recent tragedies of police shootings. Joe has a very unique and nuanced position as he is a person of color, grew up in the inner city of Cleveland, and is now works with law enforcement as a prosecutor.

Earlier in the summer we went to Joe, given his background and position, and asked what we as a church could do to help the volatile situation in our country. His answer was profound and simple as he told us to "keep doing what you do." What he meant by that was to keep living a life that show the love of Christ, and keep the mission to share the gospel of Christ as the primary thing in your life.

Those words are especially poignant in light of the election. We need to make the mission of the church our primary mission. By the way you can watch Joe's full life story here.

I love what Russel Moore wrote yesterday: "Political power—or the illusion of it—has not always been good for us. Such influence has led us to conform our minds to that of the world about what matters, and who matters, in the long-run of history. We should, as missionary Jim Elliot put it a generation ago, own our “strangerhood.”

What Elliot meant was we need to understand that this world is not our home. Embrace the fact that we have a hope to come that is better than anything here. That hope is realized in the gospel and we need to be bold to share it with a nation that needs it.

We will need to be united on this as a divided nation needs us to be focused on this mission.

Work to engage those not in your culture comfort zone.

If your Christianity only engages elites, college grads, artists, "creatives," urban professionals, etc. you won't understand why Trump won. The gospel is not just for those in our social circles. There is a massive group of people in our country that feel left behind. If we want to reach them with the gospel we will have to reject comfort and reach across our culture.

A good place to start would be to read the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Another good place would be to read the review of that very book by Mez McConnell. Mez has the perspective of living in Great Britain and going through Brexit this past year.

Our identity is not in politics. Our hope is not in a candidate. Our party or support of a candidate is not the sum of who we are.

We need to continue to fight for the gospel. Spread it with love far and wide.

I'll end with this challenge from Matt Chandler. If we want to propel the gospel forward we must "fight for diversity love the poor and welcome the immigrant."

Josh Byers