A Virginia pastor prayed for Trump — Here’s what the backlash tells us about the church

June 7, 2019 By Daniel Ritchie

By now, many of us have seen and heard about what played out during the 1 p.m. worship service at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. last Sunday.

For those who may be unfamiliar, here’s the short of it: President Trump played a round of golf at Trump National Golf Course in Sterling, VA. After finishing his golf outing, the president decided to stop by Mclean Bible Church — one of the largest evangelical churches in the D.C. Metro area — to visit with Pastor David Platt and to pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach.

CHRISTIANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CALL ON FAITH LEADERS TO PRAY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP

McLean Bible Church and Platt had little notice of the visit. In fact, Platt had just finished his sermon and had stepped backstage for a few moments to prepare for the church to take the Lord’s Supper.

It was in those quiet few moments that he found out that the president of the United States was just minutes away from being at the church.

Dr. Platt was faced with a tough decision. He in no way wanted to endorse the president, his party or his policies as a man who is responsible to shepherd God’s church. Yet, he also did not want to bypass an opportunity to pray for one of the most prominent men on the planet.

In those moments of internal wrestling, a passage from 2 Timothy 1 came to his mind:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

As he reflected on this text, Platt knew the best thing to do was to pray for the president, which is exactly what he did. He clearly presented the Gospel to the president both backstage and in the prayer.

He prayed that God would give Mr. Trump wisdom, grace, and mercy. He prayed that the president would know of God’s promised love for him. He prayed that President Trump would lead and make decisions with justice and equity for all in mind.

With that, the prayer ended and Mr. Trump stepped off the stage without making any public remarks.

And with that, the backlash began.

Many people were hurt because he brought a public official into the pulpit of his church. The criticism was strong enough that he penned a letter to his church in which he explained the Gospel-centered “why” behind his decision to bring the President on stage.

There were others, like Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who criticized Platt for writing that letter; Falwell deemed it as a cowardly apology and attacked Platt’s male fortitude.

The backlash has left one apparent truth in its wake: there’s a worldview problem in the church.

Scripture describes that when someone trusts Jesus as Lord, they are a new person. They begin to have new tastes, new affections and a new way to see the world. They do not view things as they always have; they now view everything that they take in on a daily basis through the lens of Scripture. Through the lens of God’s grace-giving Gospel.

There are some, plainly evidenced in this situation, that view Gospel truths through a political lens first. But that is not how the church needs to view the world. We have to view every situation through a Gospel lens.

As we begin to process realities like Platt’s prayer or the pro-life debate or even voting itself through a political lens first and foremost, then we lack a true biblical worldview.

If our first response to political deliberation and conversation is, “How would my political party perceive this?” then we have a functional political idol.

For the Christian, politics as the fundamental way to view the world is destined for failure and strife. The Gospel and Scripture ought to be the funnel that we pour everything through. The things we learn, what we talk about, how we vote and even how we parent are meant to be seen through the lens of the Gospel. We see everything through a Scripture-shaped lens first and that is what a Christian worldview looks like.

As we view the world through a Gospel lens, we begin to see where our allegiance needs to be: God first in all things. Much as was the heart of Platt’s prayer that we would: “aim for God’s glory, align with God’s purpose, and yield to God’s sovereignty.”

In every thought. In every conversation. In every debate. Let that be the way we see the world.

 

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