The kingdom of heaven is (still) at hand

November 15th, 2016

Yes, Donald Trump won the presidential election. No, not everyone is happy about that. Clinton won the popular vote while Trump won the electoral vote. Plenty of people are having to adjust their ideas of the next four years.

Like many people I was surprised, even discouraged, at the election results. My candidate didn’t win. The values I hold most dear are not well-represented in the president-elect. Yet, I still find reason to hope for a world that works for everyone. For me, it all started with this realization: The kingdom of heaven is (still) at hand.

Whether you are delighted or outraged with the results of the election, this is an important fact to hold true: The kingdom of heaven is (still) at hand. If you’re thinking that your ideal world cannot happen unless the right woman or man is in the White House then consider again the story of Jesus. He proclaimed the kingdom of God right under the nose of Pontius Pilate and under the rule of Caesar. He proclaimed it not as something that was going to come, or going to be restored, but something that was at hand even then.

Jesus reminds us all — Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike — that it’s not our leaders who ultimately create the kind of world we live in. They don’t have that kind of power. It’s up to us to say what kind of world we live in, and to act accordingly.

Yes, Trump will soon have executive powers. But that no way impinges on our own inherent kingdom powers of dignity, self-regard and co-creation with God. The power of the kingdom is already within us: it’s found at the depth of our being. It’s expressed through our thoughts, our feelings, beliefs and our actions. No one can take that away.

At the same time that we are each responsible for our ensuring own personal dignity and empowerment, that doesn’t mean we stop paying attention to the world at large. It’s imperative that we church leaders continue envisioning a just and inclusive society. It’s imperative that we church leaders continue to work for a world in which the needs of all are met. It’s imperative that we church leaders continue speaking up about what works and what doesn’t. Finally, it’s imperative that we back up our talk with action.

There’s been a dramatic uptick in hate crimes by some pro-Trump supporters since last Tuesday’s election. On the other hand, some anti-Trump protests have turned violent. Christian values of loving friends and enemies, forgiving those who have wronged us, offering radical hospitality and welcoming the stranger are more important than ever. Living the gospel has never been more counter-cultural!

While violence against persons of color, religious minorities and property should cause us to be vigilant, let’s not go overboard by assuming the worst in others. We have to keep our assumptions in check. We lead congregations full of both Republicans and Democrats ... and Independents. Regardless of our own political leanings, we cannot assume that everyone who voted for Donald Trump wants to deport immigrants, block Muslims from coming into the country, roll back civil rights, normalize preying on women or insult and bully people at will. It’s simply not true. Sure, some share those views. More likely, however, most Trump supporters were drawn to one or more of his ideas about the economy, the government or international relations. Or, they simply couldn’t see voting for the other party. Or the other party’s candidate.

On the other hand, we cannot assume that everyone who voted for Hillary Clinton is insensitive to concerns about the economy or security, supports rioters in the streets, is non-patriotic or is somehow against everyone else.

Both sets of assumptions are false.

As church leaders we are called to bring people together to live into the kingdom of heaven. This is the time to lean into the calling. Not by pretending discord and disagreement aren’t happening. Or by simply reacting in fear. But by actively promoting all that we do stand for.

This is our time. This is our time to love all our neighbors and all our enemies. This is our time to extend radical hospitality. This is our time to cast out demons, to turn fear into faith and to cast a vision of a world that works for everyone. After all, the kingdom of heaven is (still) at hand. Let’s demonstrate it.

Rebekah Simon-Peter blogs at She is the author of The Jew Named Jesus and Green Church.

comments powered by Disqus