Today Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States. As you know, Mr. Trump won a highly volatile election last November. Some see him as a candidate of much-needed change, readily resonating with his Reaganish slogan, "Make America Great Again!" Others see Mr. Trump as a less than desirable candidate for the highest office in the land.
What are Southern Baptists to do?
Trump won the election. In doing so, he earned the right to serve for the next four years as President of the United States. Consequently, it is incumbent upon every Bible-believing Christian to pray that the Lord will bless and guide him and his family in the coming days and years.
The Bible is clear that we Christians are to pray for our leaders.
The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (NAU)
Paul also says in Romans 13:1,7: "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.... Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
When the Jewish High Priest, Ananias, ordered one of his servants to strike the apostle Paul for what Ananias considered an irreverent statement made by Paul, Paul retaliated by calling Ananias a "whitewashed wall" (i.e. a hypocrite). But when Paul learned that Ananias was the High Priest, he immediately apologized citing Exodus 22:28. The Bible says in Acts 23:5 -- And Paul said, "I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.'"
Likewise, the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:17: "Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."
If these verses mean anything, they mean that all Christians, including all Southern Baptists, should pray for President Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, and refrain from criticizing and slandering them personally.
Does this mean we cannot disagree with President Trump's policies or actions? Of course not.
But as followers of Jesus, when we disagree with anyone's actions and/or words, we must do so without being mean-spirited and without maligning them personally. It is incumbent on all our SBC leaders to set such a standard of maturity for all Southern Baptists with genuine, Spirit-filled behavior.
Effective today, Mr. Trump became President Trump. He will serve in the highest office of political authority in our nation. The moment Donald Trump assumes that office, he deserves our sincere prayers and genuine support. We must grant all people, including elected officials, dignity, because: 1. they are created in God's image, and 2. Jesus died for their sins.
Exactly how should we pray for Donald and Melania Trump?
• Pray that their hearts will be like channels of water in the hands of the Lord and that He will turn them wherever he wishes (cf. Proverbs 21:1).
• Pray that God will instruct them and teach them in the way that they should go and guide them with His eye upon them (cf. Psalm 32:8).
• Pray that they will walk in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and that God will surround them with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:12).
Ask the Lord to lead you as you sincerely pray for them.
Southern Baptists, we must set the example for others by living biblically as citizens of God in a secular world. We must pray for and genuinely respect both the office of the President of the United States, and the man in that office, Donald J. Trump.
Steve Gaines is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church.