Trump’s jab spread all over Twitter the morning of May 9th, 2016. Or perhaps it wasn’t the jab, as much as the unexpected response from Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Since I’m currently reading (and enjoying) Moore’s book, Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel, the coverage sparked my curiosity. I scrolled down to find the original verbal assault. Mr. Trump used Twitter to claim,
The outburst was triggered by Moore’s comparison of Trump’s presidential campaign to “reality television moral sewage.”
I clicked over to a video interview between Dr. Moore and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. In the interview, Anderson Cooper begins by saying to Russell Moore, “I wanted to give you a chance to respond to Donald Trump’s tweet about you this morning.”
Russell Moore didn’t miss a beat: “Well, I thought it was great! It’s one of the few things that I can agree with Donald Trump on. I am a nasty guy with no heart!”
I didn’t see that coming.
He went on: “We sing worse things about ourselves in our hymns on Sunday mornings. I’m a wretch in need of God’s grace, so I agree with that.”
At this point in the video, Anderson Cooper visibly squirms in his seat, presumably trying to maintain his stoic composure and hide his surprise.
Russell Moore used the opportunity to continue: “That’s the reason I need forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ.”
I repeated that video at least five times. I showed it to my husband. I even made my kids watch it. I realized it was the best response to an insult I’d ever heard. Right now, when people criticize me, I furrow my brow, scrunch up my nose, and whine, “That’s not true! You’re the mean one!” My gut instinct is to defend and retaliate. Maybe that’s where my kids get it.
Russell Moore did the exact opposite – not only did he admit his weakness, he turned to the situation into an opportunity. Hundreds of thousands of people heard the core of the gospel message through Moore’s brief interview on CNN. It made me ask myself: Do my responses to criticism point people to Jesus? Sadly, more often than not, the answer is no.
This past Sunday, my pastor quoted Jesus in Luke 6:26 from the pulpit: “Woe to you when all people speak well of you.” Whoa. You mean it can actually be a good thing to be insulted?
More self-introspection: Do I behave in a way that is smiled upon by the whole world, or do my Christian convictions cause me to do some things differently? If it’s the latter – and I sincerely hope it is – then I should expect to go head to head with occasional insults. And when they come, I want to be ready like Russell Moore.