Just when you thought this presidential campaign couldn’t get any stranger, the pope gets involved.
When asked about Donald Trump’s immigration plan on Thursday, the pope said that, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Before the words were fully out of the pope’s mouth, Donald Trump responded by telling us how great of a Christian he is. That’s right, the guy who lives in a castle and has people pray to him and the serial adulterer who builds casinos are arguing with one another over who’s more Christian.
A while back my son asked me who I would vote for between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. My answer was simple.
I think that’s an appropriate answer as the world contemplates who is the real Christian, the pontiff or the Donald.
One of the problems in our society is that the options we are told to choose from are often lacking at best. Do you want to vote for the candidate who wants to spy on you or the candidate who wants to murder babies? And of course, it goes beyond politics. Do you want to go to the church with the pastor who only wants your money or the church with the pastor who only likes to tell stories about her wife?
In the face of these terrible choices, we have conditioned ourselves to choose the lesser of two evils when what we should be doing all along is simply responding, “Neither one.”
For far too long, Christians have allowed politicians, talk radio hosts and snake oil salesmen to be their Bible teachers. Rather than mature in Christ in a church setting, we have settled for the leadership of fads, crowds and loud mouths. And we wonder why the Christian voice seems so weak in our culture.
If we were truly a people of the Bible, we would know that salvation is only by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and easily reject whatever any pope had to say about true Christianity. And if we were truly a people of the Bible, we would just as easily reject arrogant womanizers who like to tell us how Christian they are.
I was talking to a firefighter recently about an intense training session he had to go through. A lot of the younger guys in the class with him had just gotten out of the military. With every opportunity, a lot of them made sure to remind everyone that they were in the military, even going so far as to tell a few stories about their accomplishments. When the training was over there was one other man who hadn’t said much. But when asked about his background, he spoke. He was a member of an elite special forces team that had taken part in some of the most significant military campaigns in this country’s recent history.
If you constantly have to prove to people how bad you are, you’re probably not all that bad. The real bad dude is the one sitting in the corner who hasn’t said anything yet.
I think that the same lesson applies here.
The real Christian isn’t the one living in a palace behind a wall and judging a man who wants to build a wall of his own. And the real Christian isn’t the one who likes to talk about Two Corinthians in one breath while bragging about his sexual exploits with the next.
If you want to see a real Christian, turn off your television and go to the nursing home. You’ll find real Christians there serving widows in their distress out of their love for Christ and others.
And go find a family that is trying to adopt a child through foster care because they take the Bible seriously when it says that legitimate religion involves taking care of orphans.
I would also refer you to the older lady in any given church who isn’t able to do a whole lot but still writes encouraging letters to people and prays for them because she wants to finish her life actively serving her Master.
Those are the real Christians.
But if you’re left to decide between the authenticity of the pope’s Christianity or the Donald’s, there really is only one answer.