The Headline: Alabama ISIS bride’s father sues Trump administration over citizenship, seeks her return. Trump says no. My question for someone who claims to have done so much for Christians – where is forgiveness?
Mt 6:14 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Yeah – that forgiveness.
And I’m referring to this Trump:
President Trump Says “Nobody’s Done More for Christian or Evangelicals” Than Him
Yeah – that one – from the headline on christianheadlines.com. The one from this excerpt:
In a recent interview with CBN aboard Air Force One, President Trump said he believes evangelicals will show up at the polls for next week’s midterm elections because no one has done more for them than him.
The comments came amidst a discussion about the upcoming midterm elections as President Trump hopped across the country to campaign for GOP candidates. The interviewer talked about Trump’s strong evangelical support in 2016 and wondered if they would show up for an election when he was not running.
President Trump responded, “Well, they’re going to show up for me because nobody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have. You’ve seen all the things that we’ve passed including the Johnson Amendment and so many things we’ve nullified. Nobody’s done more than we have.”
I can’t help but wonder, why are so many Christians so enamored with Trump?
For instance, Jesus said:
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
I wonder. Would Jesus consider Trump a “light”? He certainly talks about himself a lot. And tweets. Trump seems to think he’s a great light for Christians. But is it “light” the way Jesus meant?
While the English translation uses the word “light” three times, the original Greek actually has three different words. That certainly got lost in the translation, didn’t it?
Here are the two in verse 15.
light, as in light a lamp
2545 καίω [kaio /kah·yo/] v. Apparently a primary verb; TDNT 3:464; TDNTA 390; GK 2794; 12 occurrences; AV translates as “burn” 10 times, “did burn + 2258” once, and “light” once. 1 to set on fire, light, burning. 2 to burn, consume with fire. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
OK – we’re talking about lighting a lamp. This makes sense. It’s literally setting something on fire. It’s analogous to us flipping a switch to turn on a lamp today.
light, as in it gives light
2989 ἐπιλάμπω, λάμπω [lampo /lam·po/] v. A primary verb; TDNT 4:16; TDNTA 497; GK 2139 and 3290; Seven occurrences; AV translates as “shine” six times, and “give light” once. 1 to shine. 2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Once again, this makes sense. And just like the candle, our lamps today provide light to see physical objects – except they’re much brighter than one candle.
And here’s the one from verse 14.
light, as in light of the world
5457 φῶς [phos /foce/] n n. From an obsolete phao (to shine or make manifest, especially by rays, cf 5316, 5346); TDNT 9:310; TDNTA 1293; GK 5890; 70 occurrences; AV translates as “light” 68 times, and “fire” twice. 1 light. 1A the light. 1A1 emitted by a lamp. 1A2 a heavenly light such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth. 1B anything emitting light. 1B1 a star. 1B2 fire because it is light and sheds light. 1B3 a lamp or torch. 1C light, i.e brightness. 1C1 of a lamp. 2 metaph. 2A God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality. 2B of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it. 2C that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly. 2D reason, mind. 2D1 the power of understanding esp. moral and spiritual truth. 3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Here’s where things get different. A person is clearly not going to physically light up the world. Not in the sense that we’ll be able to see physical objects because of that “light”.
No – this “light” is about truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it. And I’m not talking about Trump’s truth, knowledge or spiritual purity. No, it’s about God. And about whether or not Trump – or any of us – exhibit that kind of light. A reflection of God’s light.
Further, what can be seen is our good deeds.
And there’s the question. Is what Trump did here, with this young woman, a good deed?
Here’s how the article from msn.com that we’re looking at starts off.
Ahmed Ali Muthana filed a lawsuit on Thursday in federal court in Washington, DC, to prevent what he calls an “unlawful attempt” by the United States to rescind his daughter’s citizenship.
At age 19, Hoda Muthana, who is from Hoover, Alabama, traveled to Syria to join ISIS. Five years later, Muthana now says she regrets what she did and wants to return to the United States.
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow Muthana back into the country. Pompeo declared the same day, in a statement, that Muthana is “not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.” Speaking on NBC Thursday, Pompeo confirmed the administration’s position that Muthana was not a citizen because of her father’s diplomatic status when she was born.
The merits of what Trump said will be decided in court. And that’s not what I’m talking about anyway. BTW – just from this short excerpt, at least one issue is the discrepancy between these two statements: (1) rescind his daughter’s citizenship and (2) was not a citizen. It’s just not possible to revoke something that she never had.
As I said though, that’s not the issue I want to look at. This is:
If she returns to the United States, Muthana “is prepared and willing to surrender to any charges the United States Justice Department finds appropriate and necessary,” according to the lawsuit.
In a handwritten statement provided to CNN by a family representative, Muthana wrote that when she left for Syria she was a “naive, angry, and arrogant young woman.”
“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” the statement reads.
“During my years in Syria I would see and experience a way of life and the terrible effects of war which changed me. Seeing bloodshed up close changed me. Motherhood changed me. Seeing friends, children, and the men I married dying changed me,” Muthana wrote.
Muthana knows she messed up. She realizes that things weren’t the way she thought they were. And she’s willing to pay the price for what she did.
And so my question remains – where is forgiveness?
God is just. And God forgives.
But with Trump, in this case, and so many others, there’s neither forgiveness nor appropriate justice.
Where are the “Christians” – or at least whose who call themselves Christians – when these kinds of things happen? Why aren’t at least some of the Christian leaders in this country speaking out?
This isn’t Christian. Much of what Trump does isn’t Christian. I dare say, many of Trumps tweets aren’t Christian. In reality, many of them fall into this category:
Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
How many people, in one way or another, has Trump called a fool?
When will those Christians, and especially the Christian leaders, who support Trump finally speak out? Or are they so detached from Jesus’ message that they think the same way as the Zealots who wanted Jesus to overthrow the Roman government?
Jesus didn’t do that. He never intended to do it. His kingdom isn’t of this world.
Jesus said exactly that when He appeared before Pilate:
Jesus Before Pilate
18:29-40 pp — Mt 27:11-18, 20-23; Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2, 3, 18-25
Jn 18:28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
Jn 18:30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
Jn 18:31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
Jn 18:33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jn 18:34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
Jn 18:35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jn 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Jn 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Jn 18:38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
Jn 18:40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
So Jesus’ kingdom wasn’t of this world.
In a very important way, neither is ours. Not if we’re true Christians, as opposed to Christian in name only.
One in Christ
Eph 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Paul starts off with an explanation. An explanation for why we are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. And that makes us part of both “kingdoms”. Some things are required in this world. Others are according to God. And in that regard, Jesus told us:
Paying Taxes to Caesar
12:13-17 pp — Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26
Mk 12:13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Mk 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Where is forgiveness?
So tell me. Where is forgiveness due? Is forgiveness for Caesar? Trump? Or maybe you don’t forgive anyone?
No – forgiveness is a command from God.
Earlier, we look at that famous passage about calling someone a fool. Here’s what came just after that. It’s all about forgiveness.
Mt 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Mt 5:25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Yes – we should forgive everyone. And settle matters before going to court.
I know – we live in a tough world. But hey – so did the people in Jesus’ time. Especially in this country, we have things so much better than they could ever have dreamed of.
So who are we to ignore what Jesus told us? Even commanded us?
If a non-Christian chooses to not follow God’s law – that’s their choice. At least it should be.
But as a true Christian, we should not ignore God’s law. We should try our best to follow it. But maybe we should also stop celebrating and supporting those who claim to be Christian, and yet by so many measures do not even try to live a Christian life?
Maybe we should start looking at the fruit – the way they live their lives. Something that Jesus taught as well.
A Tree and Its Fruit
Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Conclusion – where is forgiveness?
Forgiveness should be everywhere.
We should even forgive Trump. As he should forgive others. Trump needs to remember what Jesus taught about forgiveness. From all appearances, he has a lot of forgiving to do.
And we, true Christians, would do well to remember what Jesus taught about light and fruit. We would do well to learn the difference between someone whose belief is false – and someone who is a true believer.
And most of all, we must remember that our ultimate allegiance is not to any man. It’s to God.
References [ + ]
|1, 2, 3.||↑||Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.|