If the comments reported to be made by the POTUS are true, Christians must speak out. For any who may try to deny wrong based on “context”, please consider that no matter how corrupt or dysfunctional a nation may be, the comments intimate that people of those nations are a problem. Evangelical Christians have an obligation for the sake of Christ to condemn such speech. We cannot be silent.
Naturally, President Trump denies what was said. God only knows if the public will ever know the truth. Regardless, the occasion is an opportunity to speak for justice.
When Christ came to earth, he began to challenge the corrupt perception of who matters to God. People that were deemed unworthy, unlovable, and unreachable were exactly those Christ came to redeem. He spent time with them and defended their worth against the prejudice of the Scribes and Pharisees, even his own disciples. God’s people have been instructed to abolish divisions based upon societal, cultural, and economic barriers. In Christ, a new eternal reality has come into place. The Apostle Paul writes about this reality in his letter to the Ephesian church:
12 (Gentiles) remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” – Eph. 2:13-16
Many of us are Gentiles, people from pagan cultures who were graciously rescued through the cross of Christ. Paul’s point is that whether Jew or Gentile, there is no division in Christ. There is zero tolerance for hostility toward our brothers and sisters from other cultures or nations. Christ died to remove hostility toward one another in his Church.
But what about people outside of the Church?
One the most famous teachings of Jesus is the parable of the Good Samaritan:
Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, seeking to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
We all want to convince ourselves that we are “good people.” We try to convince ourselves that our opinions are aligned with God’s. We can be just like this lawyer, and try to challenge God on who matters to him. We can try to dismiss our disobedience and narrow the spectrum of who is our “neighbor.” Jesus used the Good Samaritan parable to illustrate what it means to be obedient to God through the Great Commandment. The worth and value of a person are of deep concern to God. You can’t truly love God without loving your neighbor. They are intrinsically woven together.
That’s why I love these quotes from John Calvin. Calvin was a refugee, ministering to refugees and Genevese citizens. Yet, convinced of where God stands on these matters, Calvin delivers a strong message about the value of humanity:
“Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him. Say, “He is a stranger,” but the Lord has given him a mark that ought to be familiar to you, by virtue of the fact that he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Isa. 58:7). You say, “He is contemptible and worthless;” but the Lord shows him to be one to whom he has deigned to give the beauty of his image. Say that you are nothing for any service of his; but God, as it were, has put him in his own place in order that you may recognize toward him the many and great benefits with which God has bound to you to himself. Say that he does not deserve even your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possessions. (from Institutes 3.7.6)
“We should not regard what a man is and what he deserves but we should go higher—that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. He has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing for one another. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should deface himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens….if there come some Moor (muslim) or barbarian (from a primitive society), since he is a man, he brings a mirror in which we are able to contemplate that he is our brother and our neighbor: for we cannot abolish the order of nature which God has established as inviolable.” (from Corpus Reformatorium)
We have no excuses. Every person bears the God’s image. May God grant us the courage and wisdom to speak out against injustice, and grace and strength to live in ways that bring him much glory.