“Make America Great Again.”
We all know the line. And we all know who coined it. But what does it mean? More specifically, what does it mean according to Evangelical Christianity, considering it is they who had the biggest hand in electing Mr. Trump as our next President?
Well, I guess over the next 4 years at least, we are going to find out.
We will find out if the United States of America focuses on what are considered traditionally “Christian” issues. We will find out if we turn our attention to the “least of these,” something Jesus himself emphasized and is, in fact, precisely how he states that the nations are judged (Matt 25:31–46). To that end, a great Christian nation will feed the hungry and welcome in strangers (Matt 25:35), will clothe the naked and care for prisoners (Matt 25:36).
We shall see if this happens.
A great Christian nation will also refrain from lording over others (Matt 20:25). Rather, it will be great by not expecting to be served, but by serving (Matt 20:28). This is the cup of those proclaiming to be “Christian” (Matt 20:23), and so it too is the cup of a “Christian” nation. That cup is about servitude and enemy forgiveness. That cup is what Jesus drank the night before uttering forgiveness for all from a Roman cross. It is also the cup the early Christians drank, as they collectively offered forgiveness to their persecutors. So will this “great Christian nation” drink the same cup?
Again, we shall see.
A great Christian nation will also renounce using war and violence as a means by which to achieve peace. Jesus, just prior to his arrest and subsequent crucifixion, says that he has more than twelve legions of angels at his disposal. That is to say, he has the ability to unleash hell upon his Roman captors, thus giving him the ability to jettison out of there! But they remain at bay.
Will the military—or in other words, today’s version of Jesus’ legion of angels—be unleashed upon our enemies? Or will they not? What will this “great Christian nation” do over these next 4 years? Will the military industrial complex expand or contract? Will our swords become beaten into plowshares (Isa 2:4), or will we die by the sword (Matt 26:52)?
Again, we shall see.
A great Christian nation will also love thine neighbors. Jesus offered the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of how one should do this. He teaches that one loves thy neighbor by caring for a wounded and dying enemy; even when others refuse to do likewise. That is to say, our neighbors are our enemies, and we will show mercy. So, how will this great Christian nation care for our neighbors/enemies? And who are our neighbors/enemies?
We will have some introspection to do, and again, we shall see what happens.
A great Christian nation will also care for the Earth we have so graciously been given. Our Bible is clear that God’s creation is tov tov (Hebrew for “very good”), and so a great Christian nation will treat it as such. We shall heal it when it needs healing. We shall love it when it needs loving. We shall tend to it when it needs tending to. So will we? Or will we rape it into submission?
We shall see.
A great Christian nation will do all these things and more—because a great Christian nation follows the example of the Risen Lord. Over and over Jesus asks us to follow, so will we? If we do, we can usher in the kingdom of heaven and if we don’t, the kingdom of hell. What shall a great Christian nation do, then? What kingdom shall we work toward ushering in?
Well, I guess we shall see.
As for me, I will continue to do my best to cry out for peace. I hope you continue to join me. Peace can be had should we desire it, no matter who governs the nation-states. The declaration that Jesus is Lord gives us hope, and the prayer for thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven remains our mantra. So let’s get to work, with forgiveness on our tongues and peace on our hearts.
Shalom, and fear not.
Image via Unsplash.
About Matthew Distefano
Matthew Distefano is the author of All Set Free: How God is Revealed in Jesus and Why That is Really Good News and the newly-released From the Blood of Abel. He is also a Regular Contributor for The Raven ReView and ProgressiveChristianity.org. You can find him on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.