Let’s talk about Donald Trump. Stay with me. This is not about politics, elections, or candidates. But if you pay attention to such things, I bet you’ve observed the same thing I have about him.
To say he’s flamboyant and inflammatory is an understatement. He is willing to roil any demographic when given the opportunity. And therein, I believe, is the key to understanding the popular response to this non-typical candidate for President of the United States. The fact that someone may not like what he’s about to say apparently doesn’t enter his mind, nor stop him from saying what he truly thinks. You might call it being frank, or ‘real.’ Apparently a lot of folks like that in a political candidate.
Maybe some of us Christians could learn a lesson here. Do we try so hard to convey a winsome message that we aren’t being real? “God loves you and wants to bless you” is true, but let’s not leave that unpacked. It’s not the real message if that love doesn’t include God the Son dying a vicarious death on a cross because you are a Sinner (Rom 5:8). It’s not the real message if the blessing of forgiveness doesn’t include the possibility of persecution by those who hate that you’re a Jesus follower (Mat. 5:10-11).
Jesus was ‘real’ but he didn’t step into history to show us how to achieve a political goal. A wealthy man asked Jesus what he should do to inherit the Kingdom, an off-point question since it’s about believing first. But Jesus obliged and gave him an impossible task to do. When the fellow left crestfallen, Jesus didn’t chase after him with a challenge to believe; rather, he let him struggle with the impossibility of doing, absent faith (Mat. 19:26).
When Jesus talked about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many disciples left him. At the Feast of Booths, his teaching was so radical the crowd said he had a demon and the rulers wanted to seize Him. He was quite impolitic when he insisted on healing a blind man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, so the rulers wanted to kill him.
He knew many would not accept his statement, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn. 8:58). They tried to stone him after that one. Same thing happened when he said, “I and the Father are one.” They knew he was making the audacious claim to be God (Jn. 10:30,33).
So you might be thinking Jesus had it coming. True, but not because of what he said. He had it coming by his own choice. It was for you. You are real to him, even if he isn’t to you. The humbling premise of the Christian gospel is that something is wrong with you, and you need a Savior. There it is, being ‘real.’ It’s not Mr. Trump’s job to stump that real message, that’s on us, brothers and sisters. Believe it!