U.S. President Donald Trump’s Monday joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin resulted in a rare occurrence: a united Congress.
At the press conference, Trump appeared to side against his security and intelligence agencies when it came to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
He remarked, “My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
This comment and similar comments along those same lines prompted Sen. John McCain of Arizona to surmise, “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
Let’s recap: U.S. President Donald Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin, placing himself against evidence offered to him by U.S. security and intelligence agencies.
Because of this decision, it has provoked elected officials from both Republican and Democratic parties to condemn his words and actions.
Upon his return to the U.S., the president seemed to reverse the position he took when standing next to Putin.
“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies. Always have,” he said, in a Tuesday news conference. “I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that … I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also – a lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”
All of this leads the average citizen to ask, “What is happening?”
International and domestic politics are feeling more like an episode of Netflix’s “Stanger Things” when the characters discovered the reality of the upside-down world.
As I travel around the world and visit with faithful Christians, they seem to relate to this feeling of living in an upside-down world.
The world that used to make sense, even though it was imperfect, provided comfort and clarity that delineated the boundaries between right and wrong, good and evil, and light and dark.
However, the upside-down world blurs those lines, delivering images and rhetoric from a U.S. president that compliments brutal dictators while challenging U.S. agencies and criticizing traditional allies.
Closer to home, this upside-down leadership claims to be a champion of the working class while at the same time advocates for economic policies sympathetic to the wealthy.
Finally, the president demonizes the immigrant seeking asylum from evil, instead of welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses and the homeless that yearn to breathe free.
In 1 Kings 18-22, the confrontation between Elijah, a prophet of God, and Ahab, the King of Israel, demonstrates how an upside-down world was turned toward divine justice and peace.
King Ahab enacted policies that were harmful to God’s children. When Elijah confronted the king about his words and actions, King Ahab called Elijah, “the troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17). If we could put it into today’s vernacular, he essentially called the prophet of God “Fake News.”
Unfortunately for Ahab, God was not amused with his antics. In the end, the power of God wipes out the worshippers of Baal, and Ahab eventually falls to the mark of an un-aimed arrow, after which the Septuagint (the oldest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) has pigs licking up his blood making him unclean and unacceptable to his own people.
Both biblically and historically, confrontations between prophets of truth and kings of evil have always been colossal.
However, history teaches us a valuable lesson we should heed during this current upside-down era: The upside-down afflicts its greatest pains upon the poor and marginalized, at times leaving such deep wounds a generation can be lost.
History also teaches that it is never too late for the prophets of truth to confront evil and call upon the power of God to upright the upside-down.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s words echo in our ears, “The arc of the moral universe always bends toward justice.”
Therefore, I applaud the modern-day prophets of truth.
Let those with influential voices, like Sen. McCain, speak boldly and openly. Let the prophets of God, like Rev. William Barber, take us back to Scripture to remind us that a world of decency, love and ethics is obtainable.
Let the words of the righteous drown out the voices that seek to divide us because the upside-down can be turned right-side-up.
But, the only way this can happen will be when the voices of light overcome the voices of darkness, offering a message of light that will shine brightly for the world to witness.