Like Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” comment that came back to haunt him in the 2012 election, the one lasting comment that might reverberate for years was Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of half of Trump’s electorate as “deplorables.” No matter who you voted for, you’d have to admit that the deplorables got the last laugh.
As a pastor in a Southern state that voted deeply red, I guess I could accurately be described as a deplorable. But to be honest I’m okay with that description, because I see fellow deplorables in the New Testament. When Jesus was engaged in his earthly ministry, note how the elites disregarded his entire movement:
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” John 7:45-49
Can you feel the contempt and derision that these chief priests and Pharisees had for Jesus’ mob? They were the deplorables, illiterate fisherman, prostitutes and tax collectors. In fact the New Testament admits as much. Look at how the Apostle Paul describes the make-up of the earliest disciples:26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Deplorables are at the heart of the New Testament story. A group of ragtag followers with no money, no power, no pedigree and no platform changed the course of human history. Need any more proof of the lasting effect of this original group of deplorables? Consider this: how many children today are named after the religious or political leaders of the New Testament, names we find in the pages of Scripture? Do you know anyone named Annas, Caiaphas, Herod, Agrippa, Gamaliel, Caesar, Augustus? Me neither. But how about the group of deplorables we find in the New Testament? Do you know of anyone named Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Mark, Luke, John, Martha, Timothy? Yeah, me too.
Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be a ‘deplorable’ for the right cause.