As I write this piece, the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the USA has just taken place. What a remarkable turn of events! This rank outsider, given little chance by most observers, now finds himself one of the most powerful men in the world. To say that he is a controversial figure is a gross understatement. The unprecedented scenes of protest witnessed across the USA, and in other parts of the world, in the immediate aftermath of the inauguration speak for themselves. Evangelical Christians in the USA are strongly divided in their opinions about Trump. For many, his personal deficiencies—even flaws—are seemingly offset by stances on a range of moral and ethical issues which buck the trend of the rampant liberalism which has long held sway.
However you view it, this is set to be an eventful presidency. The new president, unconventional in so many respects, has already shown himself to be unpredictable and outspoken. His swashbuckling style and frequent explosive tweets show little regard for conventional politics or subtle diplomacy. Some welcome this more direct approach. For others, both at home and abroad, President Trump’s widely-reported outrageous personal remarks, coupled with his forthright, uncompromising declarations on such issues as climate change, immigration and trade agreements, are a source of deep concern and dismay. In truth, the USA, and the rest of the world, waits with somewhat bated breath to see just how the presidency of this marmite president (you either love him, or you hate him!) will unfold.
I am reminded of another inauguration which took place some 2,000 years ago. A strikingly different event: on the one hand, much more low-key and subdued, lacking outward pomp or ceremony; yet, unrivalled in its sheer magnitude and significance. In Mark 1:9–11 we read of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. As Jesus comes up out of the water, a voice from heaven declares, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (v11). This declaration does not make Jesus something that he was not already. Rather, it affirms and commissions him as he prepares to take up his earthly messianic ministry. It is his personal inauguration.
Jesus was not elected by a majority vote. He did not usurp his position by might or force. He was appointed by God, his Father, to be not merely the leader—whether president, or monarch—of a nation, but to be the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). His kingdom, the kingdom ushered in by his coming (Mark 1:15), is not a temporal but an eternal one (Luke 1:32–33; Revelation 11:15). His power is not great, but the greatest. He reigns supreme.
“Jesus was not elected by a majority vote… His power is not great, but the greatest.’
Whatever one’s view of the matter, Donald Trump is now the elected, inaugurated president of the USA. Few people in this world wield more power than he. Whether you find that fact reassuring or concerning, it is both sobering and comforting to remind ourselves that neither President Trump, nor any other world leader for that matter, is ultimately in control. Whatever qualms or fears we may have as we sail into the uncharted waters of this new era, not only in American politics but also in global affairs, we can rest secure in the knowledge that there is a greater power: the One inaugurated and affirmed by God himself. Jesus Christ is Lord!
Who knows, beyond all the hype, what kind of leader President Trump will prove to be? Time will tell. At this stage, we can only speculate, and hope. And pray. The common response all Christians should have—indeed it is our responsibility—is to pray for him (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We do so with the sure conviction that the One inaugurated two millennia ago, whose character is utterly beyond reproach, whose promises and purposes are sure, and whose treasured subjects we are, is working out his purposes, albeit in ways unseen, and will in due time usher in his kingdom in all its fullness.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” (Romans 15:13).