(The UCU Standard – Monday, February 15, 2016)
MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ Yoweri Museveni. Donald Trump. Jesus Christ. Who would you vote for? (Okay, if you find it too hard to imagine voting for Jesus per se, how about someone with Christ-like qualities?)
I mean, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if someone running for the presidency were to get up in front of microphones and cameras and scribblers and say something like this:
“If anyone running for this office doesn’t do so with the greatest fear and trepidation, shaking and trembling from the moment he leaves bed in the morning, then he’s a hopeless fool.
“It’s in this fear that I come before you, knowing that how I carry out my job, if I’m elected, will affect millions of people. It’s not just a matter of smooth roads and regular power and safe communities and proper schools and just courts – all of these are important – but my decisions one day might affect even your very existence.
“And the truth is that I will make mistakes. This is why my knees are knocking. Because I have weaknesses. So does my team. This is the one promise I can give you. Mistakes are coming.
“This is because we are all humans full of human things, not the least of which are our natural appetites for power and success and comfort and recognition.
“I would be lying to you if I denied my own cravings for these trappings so common in politics, this clamouring and chasing after the wind. But, in my fear of this, I am better prepared to avoid such failings that hurt all of us, especially you.
“I will work hard to serve my country based on what’s best for my country, not my own reward, and I will relieve of their duties anyone who refuses to do likewise.
“About my enemies, I realize I might be as wrong about them as they are about me. When I demonize them, I’m not revealing much about who they are, but rather who I am. So I will work with my enemies and opponents, and not bankrupt our children’s future on war against them.
“I also realize that pride, including my own, is the fall of anyone in this present world, this beautiful but temporal place where anyone wants hope, but where true hope can only be found in the honest realization that it’s with God’s help that we have half a chance of finding it.”
“This is what I offer you, today. My honesty.”
Huh? Really? Plenty of people would laugh off such a simpleton as unrealistic, if not dangerous, a candidate who wouldn’t get voted-in as head street-sweeper. And maybe they’re right.
Then again, it seems to me that others would follow this sort of leader to hell and back.
Because Jesus didn’t go looking for any of it, for power or recognition or success. He didn’t have a single shilling or vote in his pocket when they stripped him naked and hung him on a cross, this at the climax of his career. He had given all that up. (For you and me, by the way.)
Which is not to say that success in this world, even in politics, is impossible to find when following Christ’s example.
It is to say, in fact, the opposite: that if you aren’t willing to let it all go in a heartbeat, then you’ll never know what in the world Jesus was going on about. You’ll learn nothing of Christ’s kingdom, and you’ll never understand the strange truth that, unlike (insert your favourite or most hated politician here) people are still talking it more than 2,000 years later.