by John Ellis
When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, I learned that many Christians don’t always believe what they say they believe. After the election, many of my authority figures taught me that the pursuit of holiness and the spread of the gospel is applicable only part of the time. Tossing aside any pretense of being concerned for the souls of Democrats, I heard teachers at my Christian school utter damnations on anyone who voted for the reviled Bill Clinton. While telling us to respect authority out of one side of their mouths, adults spewed venom and hatred towards the new President out of the other side of their mouths.
As my friends and I feigned indignation at the naked hypocrisy of many of our teachers, parents, and assorted authority figures as they ridiculed, disrespected, and openly wished harm on our newly elected President and his supporters, I was secretly happy. For me, as someone who wanted to discard any constraints that prevented me from doing whatever my hedonistic heart desired, the reactions to Bill Clinton’s election was a world-view goldmine.
At the time, I was a Christian in name only, and I would’ve happily dropped the “in name only” part if it wouldn’t have been such a hassle to do so, both internally and externally. While I had achieved a measure of equilibrium in my life that allowed me to do whatever I wanted without attracting too much unwanted attention from my parents and teachers, there was still the occasional tinge of guilt during revival services, school chapel, or whenever one of my friends “rededicated their life to God.” Those brief moments of guilt were only minor obstacles to my sin, but I wanted them removed, nonetheless. In 1992, having my authority figures angrily unveil their hypocrisy was one of the things that I needed to begin removing any Christian identity markers from my worldview. Five years later, I finally embraced conscience atheism.
Before flashing forward to 2016, I want to add an important caveat – the hypocrisy in others, no matter how egregious, does not excuse rebellion in your own heart. We are all hypocrites; every single one of us. This is why we need Jesus. If you reject Jesus, one day you will stand before him and he will judge you (Acts 10:42, 2 Timothy 4:1). At that moment, pulling out the “Christians are hypocrite” card will profit you nothing. You will be condemned to spend an eternity in torment as punishment for your personal rebellion. The comeuppance of other hypocrites will provide zero relief for you.
Sadly, I’m afraid that versions of the above caveat as well as the preceding paragraphs will be written in about twenty years by some who are in high school in 2016. One important difference in the future versions of this post is that the authority figures of today’s youth aren’t bemoaning the election of a politician who frightens them. This time around, pastors, Christian school teachers, and evangelical parents are sinfully gloating over the election of a man who made his fortune from casinos, defends gay marriage, and has history of bragging about his extramarital sexual exploits.
The amount of vileness and hatred emanating from the internet would be bad enough even if much of it wasn’t produced by professing Christians. However, the fact that much of the indefensible vitriol is coming from professing Christians means that the conversation is doing unmeasurable harm to the American church’s ability to be a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the last week, I have been stunned by the sheer number of professing Christians that I personally know who have bared the ugliness within them. Defending racist comments and actions, cruelly mocking the fear of others, and making light of sin seems to be the new norm among conservative Christians. Pastors that I know have shared memes that use the dreadful sin of abortion as a punchline and have let it be publicly known that they have zero love for anti-Trump protestors.
As Christians, in our list of priorities, our opinions about the President-elect and his politics should lag far behind our desire to see sinners come to saving faith in Jesus. Whether you agree with them or not, humans who are made in the Image of God are hurting and scared. The anti-Trump protestors are gripped by fear. Sadly, they believe that the salvation from that fear is found in other humans and earthly institutions and ideologies. Christians possess the true answer. And that answer doesn’t have anything to do with Donald Trump and everything to do with Jesus Christ.
If we’re busy mocking and reviling those who disagree with us, why should they listen to us when we tell them the good news about Jesus?
In the run-up to the election, I prayed for the salvation of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and that the Holy Spirit would protect Christians in America from taking their eyes off Jesus. Now, post-election, I am fervently praying that the Holy Spirit will make the true Church clear to unbelievers in this country. I’m also praying for repentance for those who claim the name of Jesus while treating other Image Bearers in a manner that doesn’t reflect King Jesus. This time of anger, fear, and uncertainty is a great opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I’m afraid that many of us are too busy drawing earthly battle lines on social media.
 To be clear, even if not in word, I had been living as an atheist for practically my entire life.
 Still do.