Evangelical Christians have unquestionably been a loyal and largely unmovable base of support for President Trump since he has been in office and in some cases before. Should the election results not be overturned by recounts or court decisions, where do they go and what should they do?
Perhaps no evangelical pastor has been a stronger and more consistent supporter and defender of Mr. Trump than Robert Jeffress, who leads the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
In an essay written for Foxnews.com, Mr. Jeffress urges his fellow evangelicals to return to their first love. He’s not calling for their withdrawal from politics, but for them to focus on something that is often beyond understanding.
Presuming a confirmed win by Joe Biden, Mr. Jeffress asks, “What is God doing in this outcome? Why would He allow this to happen?”
The presumption is that the God of the evangelicals should be on the side of Republicans and conservatives, but as Scripture notes, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
While acknowledging that “for millions of Christians across our nation” the election of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris “is a bitter pill to swallow,” Mr. Jeffress writes he once quoted Daniel 2:21 to Donald Trump the year before he was inaugurated: “It is God who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes kings.”
Mr. Jeffress adds, “Human government and rulers change at God’s direction and design. Our faith and our salvation lie not in any human ruler, but in the ruler of rulers, the King of kings. The fact that God has established authorities means that by obeying the government, we obey God.”
For many that is going to be the bitterest pill of all. How can they pray for an administration that promotes values and ideologies they oppose? The scriptural command leaves no room for debate, much less disagreement.
This is another opportunity for evangelicals to obey what their leader — Jesus — commanded them to do. While He presides over governments and rulers, what influence on culture and even government would it have if evangelicals en masse began obeying His commands?
As most should know and have heard in sermons in many of their churches, these include, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous …” (Matthew 5:43-45).
That politics and politicians may work contrary to evangelical beliefs does not mean they have been deprived of opportunities to do good. On abortion they can support a local pregnancy help center. When it comes to reaching poor children trapped in failing schools, they can start a fund to help at least some escape to good private schools.
Poverty? A church might organize retired professionals to reach out to the poor to help them find meaningful work and train them to qualify for it. They could also visit those in prison, as Jesus commanded. It isn’t difficult to find them. Research ministries already helping and volunteer.
Mr. Jeffress concludes his essay by saying that God’s command “applies all the same, whether the emperor was the faith-friendly Constantine, or the evil emperor Nero.
“When Joe Biden becomes president, we should commend him for the things he does right. We should condemn the things he does wrong. And above all, we must pray fervently for our president. If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed.”
As Baptists might respond: Amen!
• Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan, January 2020).