By Stephen Mattson 2-17-2017

Since the election of President Donald Trump, many Christians are asking: How could so many Christ-followers agree with actions that are so decisively un-Christlike? Many Christians are struggling to understand how two things that are diametrically opposed to one another — Trump’s policies versus following the gospel of Christ — can be possibly reconciled.

How does one cope with the fact that their church passionately endorsed a candidate associated with xenophobic, discriminatory, racist, and fear-mongering agendas?

How can someone sit through a sermon about helping the poor when most of the parishioners around them enthusiastically backed policies that denied life-giving aid, shelter, and hope to the world’s most vulnerable?

How can someone attend a marriage conference and take seriously any relationship advice coming from spiritual leaders who refused to condemn an unapologetically sexist, misogynistic, and crude man?

How can a person rationalize traveling abroad on a mission trip with the same people who are adamantly opposed to locally accepting foreigners, immigrants, and refugees?

How can someone talk about the existence of a better life in heaven when their fellow believers are denying a better existence to people on earth?

How can someone participate in a topical Bible study about the fruits of Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—with people who promoted a leader who exudes none of them?

Instead of being an earnest endeavor to follow the Prince of peace, the Comforter, the Healer, the Deliverer, the Good Shepherd, and King of Kings — Jesus — many discovered that their faith-based institutions were being used as props to gain political control, wealth, comfort, and carnal power. And instead of being pointed unequivocally to a Divine King, many found themselves following a religion yearning for an earthly king.

Despite Sunday school, youth group, small groups, and countless church services listening, learning, and talking about helping the poor, taking care of those in need, and loving your neighbor, there was suddenly a deafening silence — even an opposition — to supporting the widow, fighting systemic injustice, caring for the poorest of the poor, and following the examples of Jesus.

How does it make any sense? It doesn’t.

But instead of abandoning our faith, or wholly dismissing any person, organization, or group that agrees with Trump, we must pray, meditate on Scripture, and seek Jesus.

Because this is the hope we must cling to during these trying times: American Christendom isn’t Christianity. Christ didn’t fail in the past and Christ won’t fail in the future — so neither should our faith in him. Because ultimately, this is what Christianity is: Jesus.

Nobody has the market completely cornered on God, and despite partisan religious rhetoric and varied degrees of faith-based hyperbole, nothing can replace the divinity of Jesus.

It’s easy to be judgmental of those we feel have missed the mark so badly, but we’ve all failed at some point in our lives, and we must show grace and attempt to imagine why others have the beliefs and opinions that they do, even if they’re vastly different than our own.

This may seem unbearable, especially as we attempt to communicate the way of Jesus to those who are extremely privileged, who don’t have to worry about being deported, or being blocked from entering a country, or denied assistance, or told they’re a security risk, a threat, a terrorist, a leech, and an object not worthy of love.

If there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ, then surely there is neither Democrat nor Republican. Instead of prompting either identity up as an idol, we must begin by worshipping Jesus above all.

The life of Jesus in the New Testament provides a blueprint for how we’re supposed to love others, so let’s do our best to follow that example. God help us.

Stephen Mattson is a writer who currently resides in the Twin Cities, Minn. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.

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