The words were projected upon the walls behind the pulpit. As he spoke, the pastor seemed uncomfortable–in fact, he admitted that he didn’t like preaching on this passage because it was convicting for him. Those words really are convicting–they are hard to live up to because we are human and most of us tend toward selfishness. As I read those words, over and over again, I realized just how far I am from living the way I am called to as a Christ follower. The words in question are reprinted below. Note that they are in red, indicating that they were spoken by Jesus.
Luke 7: 27-36 (NIV)
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
As I read those words, I realized that I’ll never live up to them. I may come close from time to time on my best days, but I’ll always fail in the end. I am too selfish–too easily offended–too eager to demand repayment of any debt, monetary or otherwise–too quick to pounce upon any slight, real or perceived. Though I am too weak natured to live up to this calling as an individual, what I can do is use my vote to help make my country one that strives to be more kind and merciful. While I don’t want my nation to overreach in a religious direction, eclipsing the 1st Amendment, I would like to see us truly strive to follow Christ’s example. It doesn’t require formal Christianity in a strict religious sense to install Christ-like policies in government.
So, as I read those words projected on the church walls, I began to wonder if many of the other people in the congregation were feeling convicted. I wondered how many were drawing the same comparisons in their minds as I was in mind about the dichotomy between those words in red and that Orange skinned man in the Oval Office–the very leader that so many of them likely helped elect and still support.
While few, if any, of us ultimately stack up well against those admonitions of Jesus, I submit that our president isn’t even trying. Yet fundamentalist Christians remain his most steadfast supporters.
Let’s reexamine those words in red compared to the actions and words of the Orange Leader…
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Oh my…anyone with a Twitter account can testify about just how miserably the Orange Leader falls short of those red words. Here are but two of hundreds of possible examples–a list that grows longer every day.
“I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.”
— Donald Trump via Twitter
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
–Donald Trump via Twitter
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is so kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.
Even when Trump attempts to be merciful, he can’t hide his selfish motives. Take this recent example.
“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”
-Donald Trump responding via Twitter after negotiating the release of some basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting
I don’t expect Donald Trump, or anyone else for that matter, to completely live up to the example of Christ–but I would expect a leader being championed by fundamentalist Christians to at least make an attempt. At every turn, the Orange Leader turns farther away from those words in red. He seems to be intentionally thumbing his nose at them, in fact. Yet, the far right extremes of the Church seem bent on digging in their heals and doubling down, continuing to insist that God placed Trump in charge for a reason.
The rest of us are left scratching our heads in utter bewilderment.