Thursday 11 August 2016

He said what?

Have you played Trump or Jesus, yet?  If you go to, you can play an online quiz that offers you a series of quotes and you have to guess who said it, Donald Trump or Jesus.  You shouldn’t get anything less than a perfect score.

The point is to demonstrate how, despite the many Trump supporters who claim to be followers of Jesus, the things that he says are just completely the opposite of Jesus.  Like I said, you should not get anything less than a perfect score.

You better not get anything less than a perfect score.

Jesus is all about love and peace, caring for others and loving your enemies, being humble and sharing what we have.  That’s the Jesus we know, right?  And I think we know where The Donald stands on those issues.

How about this one: “do you think I’m here to bring peace?  No, I bring division.  Houses will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother … You look at the clouds or the wind and you use them to predict the weather.   But you see what is happening all around you and you don’t understand what’s really going on.”  Trump or Jesus?

Yeah, that’s Jesus.

Not something you might expect from the “Prince of Peace,” is it?  But there it is, in Luke 12:29-56 (that’s my paraphrase above).   Like something Trump says, you might be tempted to ignore it or set it aside with a disbelieving shake of your head as something that’s a little “off message.”   Not that fear mongering, conflict and an arrogant superiority aren’t part of Trump’s message, they are.  But that’s not Jesus.  So if we hold on to this and engage it as something said by the same person who lived and taught a radical way of love and peace and wholeness, what then could it mean?

First, let’s be clear about peace.  Jesus doesn’t bring the kind of peace that we might superficially understand as the absence of conflict.  I’d suggest that Jesus’ idea of peace would be a sense of God’s guiding presence in our lives.  Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t the only person to suggest that “true peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice,” or something similar.  But I wonder if we don’t need more, like a mindset - and a “heartset” - that says there may be tension, division or conflict, but that we’d address it with love, respect, patience, and compassion, as well as justice.  In other words, what Jesus teaches that God intended.

Even the Prince of Peace cannot force us to live peaceably or ensure that every moment or situation would be peaceful.  We have a choice, each of us individually, as well as groups, countries, religions and cultures collectively.

Jesus knows that he brings division.  Not only because he challenges the existing structures of society and tries to break those that are hurtful, hierarchical and power driven.  Not only because he brings a message that some will hear and others may not.  But because he knows that, fundamentally, we will each hear that message with our own ears, think it through in our own minds and bear it in our own hearts.

And I don’t for a moment think that Jesus would prefer conformity and uniformity; one homogenous community where we all think, be and do the same.  No, I think Jesus is hoping for us to recognize that we’re different and engage those differences.  I think Jesus is hoping that we’ll look at the people and the world around us and finally begin to understand that division doesn’t have to be destructive.  If we could see every person, every creature, every thing in every moment for its unique place in creation and engage it with love and respect, just imagine the world that could be built.