It’s as if a gang of thugs was mugging us — beaten, robbed, and likely on our way to being murdered. Suddenly a huge biker character emerges from the shadows, shouting vulgarities, with the smell of alcohol on his breath and tattoos of naked women on both arms. For some strange reason he beats off our attackers and sends us on our way. Through bleeding and swollen lips we mumble, “thank you sir” as we stumble off, mystified. He was in no way godly, but we cannot help but think God sent him to protect us in the moment. With an overwhelming sense of relief, we utter almost instinctively a deep, “Thank you Lord.” We cannot — must not — approve of the guy’s lifestyle, language, behavior, etc. Nevertheless, given the alternative, we are thankful he showed up, just the same.
It’s been a good year, politically, for U.S. Christians. I know there are many ideological evangelicals (and fundamentalists) who disagree–citing the vulgarity (is there any other term?) for the head of the present administration. However, from the boots-on-the-ground perspective, the heat is off Christians, at least some of it, temporarily.
The nomination and approval of Neil Gorsuch put a man on the SCOTUS whose record of a broad and generous interpretation of religious liberties and efforts to protect them hearten us. Executive Order 13798 (5/04/2017) was a wide-ranging order directing the protection of religious and free speech liberties in all areas of the federal government, specifically with regard to the US Treasury (tax code) and the Preventative-Care mandate. Executive Order 1318, isolating the property and possessions of those involved in human rights abuses deserves praise by every justice loving Christian. A presidential memorandum signed on 01/23/2017 barred foreign NGO’s from receiving funding if they promote abortions. An August 25, 2017 memorandum prevents the use and exploitation of the US Military by transgender individuals to fund gender reassignment surgery. There have been many more.
We need to be careful to remember that the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. And note this: it does not matter what kind of king it is. I cannot believe that many of the pagan kings of scripture (Joseph’s Pharaoh, Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Ahasuerus) were any more righteous than our present leader, yet God used them to bless his people. That does not excuse sin or vulgarity and righteous people should continue to call it out. However, when God blesses us, and gives us respite, no matter how fleeting it might be, or from where it comes, we ought to thank Him. We probably ought to thank the king too. I am sure Joseph, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther did.
Dr. Kevin Schaal serves as the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona and as the President of the FBFI.