There’s a funny thing happening in the world today. Or it used to be funny; now it’s downright scary. It seems no amount of crude jokes, blatant lies, mean-spirited insults, or indecent behavior can stem the tide of the leading republican candidate and his loyal followers.
Freedom allows us to follow whomever we choose, and democracy allows us to put into office those whom the most of us choose. So everything that’s occurring is legit. But boy is it WEIRD.
The mantra I keep hearing is, “He speaks his mind.” That’s true… but my goodness, it sure is discouraging to find out what’s IN his mind. And even more discouraging to realize it’s apparently in the mind of his followers as well.
So with all this swirling in my head, as I sat in church today, I started wondering some things.
What if Jesus and Donald Trump were walking the earth at the same time, in “competition” for followers? What do you suppose Trump would say about Jesus?
I think he would ridicule Jesus. I think he would say, in a dismissive, derisive tone, “What kind of idiot chases after one sheep and leaves 99 sheep exposed? Let the stupid sheep get eaten by wolves; that will teach the others a lesson! Any decent businessman knows you go with the 99 sheep. What a loser!”
What if Trump had been in the crowd with the rich young ruler… and heard Jesus say, “There is still one thing you lack… sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven… then come, follow me…”
Would he have given up his possessions? Would he have “gone away sad” as the rich young man did?
I don’t think so. I think he would go into attack mode:
“Why would ANYONE want to follow this guy? Give away your hard-earned money? To the poor people… to the homeless guy who has no job? Give me a break!! Folks, I’m worth 10 billion dollars… I’m a winner, not a loser! You want treasure in heaven (insert air quotes and smart-ass smirk) then follow him… you want cold, hard cash, then follow ME!”
And the story of the Good Samaritan… oh, my goodness… how do you suppose Trump would respond to that one?
“The little Jesus man, the one with like 12 followers who’s never won anything… did you hear his latest story? Some stupid foreigner gets himself beat up, and you’re supposed to scrape his half-dead body off the ground, carry him to a 5-star hotel, pay for a doctor to take care of him, and leave your credit card to cover the expenses! What a fool! I’ll tell you what you should do in that situation – leave him for dead and build a wall to keep him outta your country! Better yet, make the stupid Samaritans PAY for the wall…”
We will never know for sure, of course. But here’s the thing. If Donald Trump is popular because he’s willing to say out loud what most people only think… then we need to stop with any pretense of being a God-fearing nation. That many of his followers claim to be followers of Christ is just… mind-boggling. I can’t imagine two people more polar opposite than Jesus and Trump.
So what’s going on here, really? What is really lurking underneath the desire to “take America back?” I think it’s just another verse in a very old song.
It’s the same battle that was raging when Jesus walked the earth: our innate, insatiable, all-encompassing desire for power and control. It’s EXACTLY what the disciples were craving when they asked Jesus when he was finally going to take over the world by force and establish his kingdom. (And oh, by the way, when you do that, can I sit on your right side….?)
And it was in the face of such desire that Jesus responded in the worst way imaginable.
You want to be first? Then you must be last.
You want to be a leader? Then you must serve like a slave.
You want to be in control of your life? Then you must give it up.
You want to live? Then you must die.
Friends. The battle raging throughout our country isn’t the liberals versus the conservatives. It isn’t the right versus the left. The real dangers out there aren’t people saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
The biggest danger facing our country is raw, insatiable, all-encompassing greed for power and money and control. It’s the reason we own an overwhelming proportion of the world’s resources, yet seek a leader who will “make us great.” It’s the reason the owner of a house, a car, a computer, a TV and an I-phone believes himself to be poor. It’s the reason we have more material wealth than any country in the history of the world… and yet are bitter, resentful, distrustful and profoundly unhappy.
We have a choice… a crucial choice. But it isn’t the choice between Trump or Cruz or Rubio or Bernie or Hillary. That choice, while important, is just a sidebar.
The REAL choice before us is between humility and arrogance. Between giving and taking. Between being caring or careless. Between compassion or cruelty. Between red-faced turmoil or quiet strength. Between clenching our fists or opening our arms.
He is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot
Choose well, my friends…