Against all odds and to the surprise of just about everyone, Donald Trump has emerged as the leading Republican contender for president. But beneath the grandstanding and sound bites, Trump’s got a Jesus problem — and it’s only a matter of time before sincere people of faith notice the massive gap that exists between the Donald and the Jesus of the gospels.
Ego is mostly why Trump’s got a Jesus problem
In a nutshell, Trump’s Jesus problem boils down to a fundamental difference in worldviews. In the world according to Trump, life is a competition with clear winners and losers. His arrogant attitude and brash behavior aren’t part of his act — they’re tools he uses to demean others. Those tools have served him well in business and resonated with certain voters in his political campaign.
Why are these voters responding to Trump? When people feel alienated from government leaders, an outsider who talks tough and swings a big stick is an attractive alternative to career politicians who are stuck in neutral and incapable of passing even the simplest pieces of legislation.
But here’s the catch:
Trump’s worldview is completely opposite Jesus’ worldview.
Not convinced that Trump’s got a Jesus problem? Consider some of the statements Trump has made over the past three years:
- “Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser — having a healthy ego, or high opinion of yourself, is a real positive in life!” (Facebook, 2013)
- “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest–and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” (Inc., 2015)
- “Politicians aren’t going to find them (the 11+ million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.) because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out.” (CNN, 2015)
- “When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough.” (via Forbes, 2014)
- “I have made the tough decisions, always with an eye toward the bottom line. Perhaps it’s time America was run like a business.” (Inc., 2015)
Now try to imagine those words coming out of Jesus’ mouth. The simple truth is that Jesus would never say any of those things or the hundreds of other Trump quotes you can find in a five-minute Google search.
Jesus’ worldview is grounded in the kingdom of God
If Trump’s worldview epitomizes the kings and kingdoms of the world, then it’s fair to say that Jesus’ philosophy epitomizes the kingdom of God in the world.
Instead of being grounded in ego, Jesus’ ideology finds its footing in compassion, humility and grace. While Trump’s world rewards winners and penalizes losers, Jesus’ world upsets the rules of the game, pushing the “winners” to the back of the line and bumping up the “losers” to the best seats in the house.
Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at some of Jesus’ quotes and compare them to the kinds of things Trump says:
- “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20:16)
- “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12)
- “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven … Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth … Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matt. 5)
- “Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.” (Luke 6:30)
Here’s my point: I think our nation’s founders envisioned a country that was guided by a philosophy that is closer to Jesus’ worldview than it is to Trump’s worldview.
In a democracy, the role of government isn’t to conquer the world or make us all rich — it’s to create a system of laws and policies that ensure freedom for all, while protecting the poor and disenfranchised from being trampled by the rich and powerful.
According to Pew research, more than half of all Republican voters identify themselves as being religious or very religious.
I don’t have much faith in politics. But I would hope that self-confessed Christians in the Republican party will see how different the values of their party’s current frontrunner are from the values of the Jesus described in the gospels.
And I hope they see Trump’s got a Jesus problem before it’s too late.