I have been working through moral foundations for living in the US under President Donald Trump. I sketched out these ideas at the end of last year and they seemed so theoretical. Like it’s part of a mind trick to say that Love and Truth are moral foundations. To me, these seem so basic. Maybe it’s necessary to go back to the basics.
When sketching out this little series, I wrote down some bullet-pointed items that seemed basic to the Christian life that would be foundational stones for how I am going to live now that Trump is President. I listed Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Truthfulness, Gentleness, Humility and Reconciliation. I then sketched out several matters related to each of them. For example, under Truthfulness, I wrote “…speaking truth when a falsehood is promoted.” That was before I had heard of Scott Spicer or “alternate facts”. I guess these later revelations only bolster my instincts (i.e. fears) about what is happening to the country. I then categorized them into 3 meta-categories: Love, Truth and Grace.
The Foundation of Grace
Grace has been a starting point for Christians since Paul. Martin Luther and later John Wesley each were serious theologians with both guilty consciences and a thorough appreciation for the institutions of church and scripture. They both had conversions of a sort through which grace became so evident that it shook them to their core. They then rebuilt their theologies around the concept that God’s love is upon us before we are even capable of accepting it. Wesley’s sermon “Spirit of Adoption” details this the best, IMO.
Compassion is the essence of grace that draws one closer to those who are suffering. And if initial indications are reliable, there will be a lot of suffering in Trump’s America. Compassion is love extended to those suffering. En route to Jerusalem to die, Jesus is stopped by two blind men shouting at him from the side of the road. “Lord let our eyes be opened,” they asked. “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him” (Matthew 20:34). At this point in the story, Jesus was hell-bent on dying. With the finish line before him he stops to heal two guys. Not only dues he heal them, he is moved with compassion. It’s almost like Jesus gets one last look at why he started this movement in the first place: everyone seems to have left the needy on the side of the road to fend for themselves. His major offense of the Pharisees is the burdens they place on others.
Compassion is love that matters to others. If people are/will be suffering, then the people of God gotta show up, feel the matter and either bring some release or enter into the fray with the suffering. I gotta over a lot of fear to live out this foundation. This is only avoidable if integrity doesn’t matter. I think integrity matters now more than I can ever remember.
Reconciliation is the goal of compassion. It is the work that binds together the limbs that have been torn apart. It is also the goal of God in Christ Jesus. If sin separates us, then salvation reattaches us…to God and to one another.
Where anyone, from a person to a government seeks to divide, to build walls between people, especially people who don’t want to be divided, then the work of the people of God is to resist that division. Just as Jesus resisted the divisions between Jew and Gentiles so too, reconciliation in our world in our time is the Christian thing to do.
I guess I feel what many others are feeling: a sense of destructiveness and spitefulness that is alarming. I’ve read where sowing chaos is part of Trump’s operating strategy. I’m not expecting to become comfortable. So these foundations of love, truth and grace are needed right now. I trust these big rocks of righteousness to weather the storm. If they don’t matter in times of strife, then they never mattered at all.