Savior, Not Showman

Frank Bruni wrote a piece about Donald Trump, suggesting that whatever happens in the Republican nomination or the general election, he won’t quietly disappear. Mr. Trump “is a showman,” wrote Bruni, “not a statesman.”

“I can be presidential, but if I was presidential, about 20 percent of you would be here, because it would be boring as hell.” That’s what Mr. Trump told a crowd in Superior, Wisconsin recently. Is the presidency “boring” – to the one in the office or to the country at large?

When you play to the crowd you have to carefully assess what it is you are trying to accomplish. Politicians don’t just look to create excitement; they are trolling for votes; but it’s the rare politician who continues to be in the national spotlight after losing the election. Will Donald Trump, should he not be nominated or elected, be the exception?

There is nothing written about Jesus to suggest that he was a junkie for attention. I have to admit that walking on water would be very cool to do. Raising a dead person to life would certainly give my popularity a bump. Jesus did those things – and much more – For what purpose and to what end?

The essence of the ministry of Jesus might best be seen in the post-resurrection appearances – appearances in which he was not recognized by those who knew him. The point of his life and message had little to do with gaining popularity for himself. It had everything to do with convincing everyone else that they are loved, that their lives have meaning, and that the future mattered.

Maybe the goal of Jesus’ ministry is not that different from the goal of a politician. Aren’t we hearing over and over again that every politician has the best interests of everyone in the nation in mind? The greatest difference, as I see it, is that Jesus is able to perform a miracle without it all starting and stopping with him. He’s not putting on a show; he’s demonstrating what true salvation really looks and feels like.

He’s not looking for our vote; but he is vying for our attention so that maybe – just maybe – we can find our soul.

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.

  • Mark, love this one! It’s strange, but I think there is something to viewing Jesus as a sort of politician – and his ministry as a kind of “running for Lord” in Judea. But it was so unlike the political norms of our time (and even his), which is what makes him so subversive and compelling. Great post.