This presidential campaign is starting to sound a lot like Jesus.
I know it may not seem like it, but deep down a political campaign is about faith. The issues and policies are interesting and need to be discussed. Certainly the spin and sound-bytes get overwhelming. At the end of the day, though, voters are trying to get to know the convictions of a candidate. Tell us what you believe and how you got there.
For an allegedly increasingly irreligious country, I find this a fascinating conversation. We want to hear about the piety of our potential leaders.
Most recently, Ben Carson and Donald Trump have been debating each other – youtube video here – on this very topic. What are the faith, religion, and spiritual practices of the other candidate? And while the conversation is not always polite – although I will give Ben Carson a shout out for being the nicest candidate ever – I find myself drawn into the conversation.
I watched an interview where Donald Trump described Communion as – taking the wafer thing – and cringed in horror. Then in the next sentence he talked about feeling cleansed after receiving the sacrament and I honestly wanted to hear more.
Ben Carson has a knack for quoting scripture when he answers questions that only devout Biblical readers would recognize – he frequently does not cite chapter and verse. As a 7th Day Adventist, though, I find his strain of Christianity peculiar. In a denomination that emphasizes the imminent return of Jesus, what does he believe God is doing to build the Kingdom of God here and now?
Ted Cruz is not my personal cup of tea, but when you hear the conversion story of his dad you see him in a different way. His dad was an alcoholic and left the family only to have a conversion moment and come back home. An America with more stories like that would be a better place.
America today is increasingly distant from its Christian, religious, and church roots – but here we are listening to our candidates talk about their piety. The more things change…..
Our fascination with candidate piety I think is a little self-revealing. We want for our candidates what we also want for ourselves. We want to see in them how they came to believe and in their story and struggles we see our own. Jesus loved this kind of conversation.
One day a political leader of sorts came to Jesus with a question – Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? – Matthew 19:16. The question, honestly, probably made Jesus cringe a little. For Jesus, goodness is found in a relationship and out of love we know what to do.
But Jesus bantered. He asked questions, quoted the Scripture, and in the end challenged the rich young ruler to give away his wealth.
This political season, enter the fray. What do our candidates believe? And as you ask, ask yourself. Because in the end Jesus will not ask you and me about a political piety….
He will ask us about our own.
(thank you for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment, share, and vote)