The Impersonators

That’s my one-year old granddaughter doing her “Donald Trump Impersonation” during the second Republican Debates on Wednesday evening. It’s quite good. I think she’s got the hair right; and I suppose she is just finishing saying that something is “hhhhuuuuugggeee”.

We have plenty of people running around the country telling us they are the right one for the job of president. One of the challenges is for each of them to look, sound and act “presidential”. We are beginning to troll their backgrounds, their family and work history, their past rhetoric looking to see if it gels with their current actions.

There are lots of people running around telling us they are “Christian”, too. They sing the right hymns, espouse the proper theology and try to show up at the right places at the right times.

I’m not sure I quite know what a US president should look like. I am even less certain I will ever know what a follower of Jesus looks like – or if there is even a mold for such a person. We’ve had a hay day with the Fox news personality Megyn Kelly declaring that Jesus was white, and this was in response to a piece in Slate.com suggesting that perhaps, given the growing diversity in the US, it was time to put “Santa” Claus on the shelf and roll out a new character – “Penguin” Claus because … well, everybody loves penguins.

We can get into the black hole – or whatever color for you best represents this astronomic metaphor – of what Jesus looked like. Given the time and location of his appearance on earth it is hard to conceive of him as “white”. But the larger question is this: What do those who claim to follow him look like?

Perhaps you have heard that the Anglican Communion has been called to Britain for a meeting next year. The church has a crisis on its hands that can be boiled down to the question we are considering, but in a slightly narrower vein: What does an Anglican look like?

Don’t you think that honesty would compel anyone who is serious about following Jesus to admit that we are, at best, impersonators? Even Jesus rejects the quality of “good” (Mark 10:18) and acknowledges that only One is truly worthy of such a characterization. And over and over again Jesus describes what God is doing in the world in the language of metaphor – The kingdom of heaven / God is like – a mustard seed, yeast, a hidden treasure. It’s almost as if Jesus is cautioning us not to get too certain with regard to the “kingdom of heaven”. Even to the point of advising humility with regard to our relationship with him, it is best not to get too presumptuous.

“Lord, I want to be like Jesus.” So we sing. So we pray. Like Jesus in our heart, in how we think of the world, in how we relate to power, in how we move forward with our own ambitions.

My granddaughter, with the coaxing of her father, kind of nails “The Donald”. May she – and all of us – experience the kind of love, hope, honesty and joy in her life that will give her the sense that, at least every now and then, she has also caught a glimpse of the Christ – and maybe she will want to be more like him, too. In any event, I hope that’s who she sees in me.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.