Pope Francis pontificated, “One is not a Christian if he speaks about walls not bridges.” Donald Trump testifies, “I’m an Evangelical, a Presbyterian.” The central question for any Presidential candidate who claims to be a Christian is this: Are you a disciple of Jesus?
The question unveils two more: First, are “Christian” and “disciple” synonymous? Second, is Jesus more than Savior but equally mentor, teacher and #1 campaign advisor? Consider the questions in reverse order.
Jesus the Master Trump the Apprentice
Question #2 – Is public profession in Jesus enough or does an “Evangelical Christian” by definition prioritize and practice the teachings of Jesus as a disciple? Is Jesus’ exhortation to the religious, “Get away from me you evil doers” relevant to Christians who believe in but don’t behave like Jesus? Will a believer receive the Master’s welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven without living out His words?
Professed faith does not produce practiced faith. “Un-Christlike” Christians are rampant across American, consumer Evangelicalism. Mean Christians populate pews. Righteous indignation is praised if the anger furthers a partisan agenda. A Trumpvangelical is one who endorses the Teacher but ignores the teaching, a guest in His house on Sunday who disregards His directives Monday through Saturday. NY Times Douthat calls them the Christian Penumbra who are “Christian-ish“.
When the life of Jesus is not disciplined into the fabric of our character, our words and actions tear back the curtain. Sincere yet fundamentally unchanged believers do not resemble the One we claim to follow. Daily habits give the impression Trumpvangelicals dozed off during the Sermon on the Mount.
Are the Pope & I too judgmental? Is my log eye blinding me from removing Mr. Trump’s speck? I am not indicting Mr. Trump, I am inviting him and pews full of Trumpvangelicals to follow Jesus with me and learn His cheek-turning counsel is more than advice for the antiquities.
Who is missing the mark? Mr. Trump and I. We preachers often present a gospel as divorced from discipleship as Donald is from Ivana and Marla. We seek bigger churches not bigger Christians. We offer discipleship as an elective not core requirement. Thankfully, an amazing grace-full invitation to become apprentices of Jesus stands with no fear of being fired. Attendees can become followers when someone walks with them. In addition to a promised, eternal Miralago after life, our next POTUS, if he or she wants to, can learn from the One who shoulders the government how to serve like Jesus if He called the White House home.
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