From 44 to 45

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

I’m guessing you never thought you’d hear those words the first time you watched “The Apprentice.” Yet, this Friday Mr. Trump will take the oath of office to defend our constitution and become the 45th man to ascend to the highest position in our country and, arguably, the whole of the free world. With great power comes great responsibility. I trust Mr. Trump will embrace the latter and wisely use the former.

Nobody really knows what Mr. Trump will deliver as president. I am neither a politician nor a businessman, but I have enough sense to know that one is not the other. We’ve seen Mr. Trump’s business acumen. By all accounts, he is highly successful in his world, though his success has come at a price both in relationships and reputation.

Significant questions remain. Will his successes carry over to the political realm? When the machinery of politics moves into high gear, will he govern any differently than those before him or those who sought the same position he will soon hold? Will he keep his campaign promises? These questions and more will have answers in due time.

As Mr. Trump moves to Pennsylvania Avenue, President Obama’s eight years in office come to a close. His supporters will cite multiple achievments inlcuding how he and the country overcame race by his double win on the national stage, his health care initiative, and the strength of the economy as he leaves office compared with the economy of 2008. His detractors will declare the growing hostility in race relations, the failure of Obamacare, and the deterioration of the culture with the advancement of so-called same-sex marriage and the aggressive promotion by the White House for the LGBTQ agenda. To his credit, neither he nor the country have been sidetracked by foolish behavior while he was in office, see Monica Lewinsky.

For many political, philosophical, and positional reasons, I am no fan of President Obama, but last Sunday morning as I led us in prayer during worship, I thanked God for him. In the same prayer, I thanked God for Donald Trump, our next president. Prior to the campaign season, I was no fan of his, and it remains to be seen whether or not I will become one. He has four years to determine my opinion.

I led our church in prayer for both of them because the Bible commands it. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

I led our church in prayer for both of them as opportunities to praise God. Around the world, human beings live in chaotic environments where governments come and go based upon the passions and aggression of a few. Around the world, national currencies devalue so rapidly that they have the same purchasing power as confederate money post-Civil War in the United States. Around the world, governments dismiss inalienable rights without regard to the immediate or future consequences.

While these United States have serious challenges, we experience so little of what so many in the world face on a regular basis. We can and should thank God for a government that diminishes chaos and lawlessness. Government is a gift from God to a nation (Romans 13:1-4). The routine transition of power we know as normal in the United States is God’s kindness poured out on this nation. Every inauguration is an occasion to praise God.

I led our church in prayer for us that we would be God-honoring citizens without regard to personalities and powers who come and go. Our standard is higher than the general population. We are Christians, called by God to express honor to the authorities he promotes and to submit to the ordinances they decree (Romans 13:5-7).

I led our church in affirmation of our true allegiance to our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God, ruled by a righteous king, whose love for us never wanes and to whom we joyfully give all our lives. By his grace, we will obey and honor King Jesus in part by our model citizenship in the country we love.

Finally, Mr. Obama, I thank you for your years of service to our country. While I maintain strong disagreement with too many of your positions and a great deal of your rhetoric, I commend you for any lasting good you brought to the people. I suspect history will better inform us of what was truly good. May your post-presidential years be fulfilling to you and joyful to your wife and daughters.

Mr. Trump, you have achieved what few thought you could attain, the presidency of the United States. May the power you now possess allow you to satisfy the responsibilities you promise to fulfill. May your years in office be marked by peace both home and abroad. I will pray toward this end.

As always, I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.