The concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday evening was a spectacular lead-in to Friday’s inauguration and a powerful culmination to an intense and dramatic presidential campaign. The climax of the event was the most stirring rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” that I have ever heard. As the chorus became a crescendo, my heart was competing with the fireworks exploding over the Potomac River. “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah…,” they sang, and I was lost in an inexpressible blend of gratitude, praise, and the sense of relief that followed, releasing 18 months of pent-up anxious anticipation. That emotional high stayed with me to the final, “…So help me God” that completed President Trump’s oath of office. What a significant and unforgettable experience. Eight years ago we were assailed with chants of ‘hope and change’, but what followed was a stream of changes to our political system and America’s traditional values that destroyed any reason to hope. Whatever else he is, Donald J. Trump is different. He’s not a packaged, duplicitous, lifelong political marionette like so many who populate Washington, and the changes he has already initiated have triggered a resurgence of hope in this country that has real substance.
Other Fireworks Played Out in the Streets ~
Predictably, radicalized socialist pawns and George Soros-funded ‘Rent-a-Mob’ units popped up like toadstools after a summer rain. As always, liberal academic sanctuaries secreted their usual assortment of leftist zealots, joined by a familiar array of recruits from among the lawless, the homeless, and the clueless. Their dedication to anarchy and chaos remained undiminished as they once again took to the streets to dramatize their intolerance by hurling obscenities, along with rocks and bricks, at anything that smacks of common sense, conservatism, or Biblical values. They underscore their presumed intellectual superiority by offering solutions like burning cars, destroying property, and infringing on the rights and freedoms of any who disagree with them. And in this case, according to them, it’s all Donald Trump’s fault.
Contrast Creates Repercussions ~
Let’s not be naïve. When we pour a cold glass of iced tea on a humid summer day, we know that the icy glass doesn’t create the water that condenses on it. And just as the water vapor was already in the air before the cold glass was introduced, the hatred and vitriol in our streets already existed before President Trump ever appeared on the scene. He was simply the strong contrast to the prevailing political temperature that became the catalyst.
Followers of Jesus ought to be careful not to miss the lesson here. The popular culture presses us to resort to a kind of ‘room temperature’ version of Christianity so that we don’t create controversy. The problem is that we’re not sent by God to be a complement to the world system surrounding us, but to be a clear contrast to it. That contrast will foster repercussions with us just as it did with the One we serve. What we saw yesterday was a process refusing to yield to the protests against it, and ‘hope’ rises up because of it. That’s an inauguration tidbit worth taking home.
Refreshing Courage ~
Donald Trump was a profile in courage because he didn’t change into some hollow, soulless manikin and begin to regurgitate eloquent sounding empty political rhetoric when they added ‘President’ to his name. Regardless of the unmistakable proximity of those who vehemently disagreed with him, and the unavoidable repercussions that would attend his words, he spoke what he believed. He didn’t dance the typical linguistic dance that most politicians engage in when the truth carries some tough implications with it. He described clearly what his words meant, and what he was there to do. How refreshing!
Another Presence with Polarizing Power ~
Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be a polarizing figure, and He both delivered and demonstrated a polarizing message. The end result was twofold. Multitudes saw in Him a transforming hope, while at the same time, other multitudes saw in Him an existential threat to their preferred way of life, and a presence that needed to be eradicated. That hasn’t changed in the past 2,000 years or so, and it won’t change in however many years that remain. Our challenge is whether we will exhibit the courage to stand and boldly speak the truth He sent us to speak or cower in fear of those who won’t like what we say and change His words into appealing sounds designed to protect us from repercussion, but that strip the message of meaning, power, and hope.
Like it or not, followers of Jesus are always sent into an oppositional culture and the world at large will never welcome them, just as it didn’t welcome Him. John said it this way,
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1 NKJV).
And he elaborated further with this:
“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6 NKJV).
When Donald Trump spoke on Friday, both hope and hatred were on display. Some raised their arms to throw bricks; others raised theirs in praise to God for the hope he brings to our nation. It will always be that way, but we must have the courage not to subjugate the gospel to those who protest against it. As we saw with Donald Trump on Friday, so it will be with us. Hope will always rise when we do.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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