An Open Letter to Mr. Donald Trump

July 27, 2015
Dear Mr. Trump,
As I’ve watched and read a bit of the news coverage of your campaign this week, I came across a headline that disturbed me to my core.  On CNNPolitics.com, it read  “Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness.”
Later in the brief article it said, “Frank Luntz asked whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.  ‘I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.'”
This doesn’t trouble me because I’m a pastor and I am busy keeping a list of your sins.  It troubles me because I’m a sinner in need of God’s grace of forgiveness and I believe you’re missing out.
Mr. Trump, at this point, I could point out all the things that every human does that puts us in need of forgiveness, but deep down I believe we all know that we constantly miss the holiness mark.  Instead what I would rather focus on is what we miss out on if we aren’t forgiven by God.
First, we miss out on seeing the holiness of God.  If we don’t need forgiveness, God is no better than us.  But he is.  God has not; does not; will not wrangle in the mud of mixed motives, impure thoughts, flashpoint anger and selfish ambition.  He is other-than.  He is pure.  He is true.  He is love.  Not seeing the holiness of God is like never smelling the life-affirming freshness of a newborn baby.
Second, we miss out on experiencing the grace of God.  If we don’t need forgiveness, then our goodness or rightness before God must be earned.  God becomes a task-master.  He is about rules and regulations and effort; rather than being about acceptance, giving and grace.  Not knowing the grace of God is like not knowing the gift of a perfect sunrise – something we had no role in producing, but rather just had to wake up and receive it.
Third, we miss out on knowing God.  If forgiveness offers no deeper connection to God, then knowing God is merely trying to know about Him.  There is no relationship.  There is no intimacy.  There is only weariness and striving.  There is only guessing about what he may be like.  Knowing about God and knowing God is like the difference between knowing a name on our birth certificate and going to the ballgame with our father who lives with us and loves us.
Fourth, we miss out on having a Savior.  If we don’t need forgiveness, we don’t need Jesus.  He was only a great man whose life ended very badly.  If that’s the case, we may find temporary comfort in his memorable sayings, but there is no power them.  There is no hope for transformation.  There is no guarantee of a future.  And that “little cup of wine and cracker” becomes a measly snack of sentimentality.  Not knowing a Savior is never knowing the knee-bending love of the most powerful Being, taking notice of me and making a way for me to be whole – now and forever!
When I confess my sins and sinfulness, God promises forgiveness.  He promises freedom.  He promises a lightening of our load.  And being forgiven, I have a Savior who died and rose from the dead.  I have a relationship with my eternal Dad.  I enjoy gifts that only God can give.  And I appreciate with worship, a perfect and powerful God who is unlike me.  Now, if you ask me, that’s living!
Mr. Trump, I don’t know if you’ll ever be the President of the United States.  But my hope is that one day, you will be my forgiven brother in Christ.  I hope you will find the freedom available in knowing we can’t produce a worthy life on our own.
Your friend and fellow sinner,
Jim Renke
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