By all means support Trump, but don't worship him

Faith leaders pray over Trump at the launch of his "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition.(Photo: Miami Herald)

I can appreciate why so many people are pleased that President Trump finally "got" Iran's most senior military leader. As far as his supporters are concerned, Qassem Soleimani is a martyr, but for countless others he was nothing less than a ruthless and dangerous killer who carries a heavy responsibility for suffering and death on a monumental scale.

Moreover, if Mr Trump is to be believed, he was planning something so big that it finally persuaded an American president that he had to be 'taken out'.

But that is where my difficulties begin. Mr Trump's relationship with the truth is fluid to say the least and leaves me wondering if this really was the reason he took that critical decision. Sadly, I find it easy to believe that he did the "macho thing" because he had been stung by the taunt that he was powerless to act.

I find it even more convincing that he is trying to deflect attention from the impeachment process, and galvanize support for the forthcoming presidential contest. Mr Trump is a well-tuned populist who knows which buttons to press.

In the same way, I have no idea if he was telling the truth when he said he does not want a war with Iran, but I am sure his actions and threats make an extended period of chaos and conflict much more likely. This saddens me.

But the word "sad" hardly does justice to what I felt when I heard Mr Trump justifying his actions to a large group of evangelical Christians in Miami. "Shock and awe" seem a little more appropriate. I am exaggerating of course, but I do so to make a point. I was simply staggered to hear the cheers and applause that followed his declaration "we got him".

There was so much adulation at the rally that the Guardian's Richard Luscombe wrote: "They came to pray with their president, though in truth many came just to worship him."

I find that highly disturbing, too, because Christians should never give the impression that they worship anyone other than the God who has revealed Himself in and through Jesus.

Jesus we encounter in the Scriptures would hardly take delight in, let alone take personal credit for the assassination of an opponent. The apostle Peter clearly understood that, which is why he wrote, "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish."

The Jesus I follow says, "You have heard the law that says, "Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies ... you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Now, I understand that those who govern us have to take the most difficult decisions and I am certainly no pacifist. My problem with the reaction in Miami, though, was more of tone. Cheers and applause seem completely out of order when viewing a vehicle being blown up and weighing up the possibilities of that person's eternal fate, which of course is God's decision.

Reflecting on all of this I find myself drawn back to some challenging words from Tom Wright in Mark for Everyone: "Jesus was crucified between two bandits, or brigands: again these were not petty thieves or crooks but revolutionaries. At the centre of Mark's picture, and of his thoughts, is the profound reflection. Jesus is dying the death that properly belonged to the violent Kingdom-people, the nationalist guerrillas." 

We all know what caused Jesus' heart to jump for joy: one of the militants came to faith. And I can't help thinking that this stands in stark contrast to what I heard resonating from the King Jesus international ministry megachurch in Miami last week.

Rob James is a Baptist minister, writer and church and media consultant to the Evangelical Alliance Wales. He is the author of Little Thoughts About a Big God.