Would Jesus ever pander to the base? It’s a question that Christians really need to ask themselves. And I mean really stand in front of the mirror – look yourself in the eye – and ask, “Do you believe that Jesus would ever pander to the base?” Then, if you’re a Trump supporter, ask yourself how you reconcile his words and actions with what Jesus taught.
Last night, while more than 25 cities had riots raging over the police killing of George Floyd, the normally active Trump twitter account was largely silent. There were but two Tweets – neither of which was helpful. No calls for calm. No words of hope. Just lot’s of silence.
This morning, we may know why there was so much silence. He apparently can’t figure out what to do. I read a CNN article titled, A serious divide exists among Trump advisers over how to address nights of protests and riots in US after Floyd’s death. Something in it may be the reason the normally Twitter-happy President can’t figure out what to Tweet.
Trump is being urged by some advisers to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn the rioting and looting more forcefully or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November, according to several sources familiar with the deliberations.
There are good reasons for the differences. The President himself can’t even clearly articulate one strategy for dealing with a crisis.
During a staff call Friday, Trump’s top domestic policy aide Brooke Rollins argued for a measured response to riots the night before, advice that was echoed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Several advisers feared, and hoped to avoid, another Charlottesville moment, when Trump was criticized after declaring in 2017 that “very fine people” were among the Nazi mobs that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia. When the President made his first vague statement on that violence, he blamed the conflicts on “many sides.”
Trump, who believes his law and order stance helped get him elected, wasn’t immediately receptive to those concerns over the last several days about what’s currently happening in the nation. But he later tried to downplay his message about using armed force on looters as a statement rather than a threat.
The next day, Trump had revived some of the violent imagery by evoking dogs and weaponry at the ready inside the White House gates, despite the earlier encouragement from his advisers to tone down his language.
As aides debate how and whether to confront the situation, Trump’s back-and-forth between violent rhetoric and a more measured tone has weighed in the deliberations, one official said. Some advisers wonder whether a presidential address calling for calm would be quickly erased by Trump’s own penchant for escalation and instigation.
Even Fox News couldn’t get Trump to appear on their air.
Pander to the base – or do the right thing?
Just by the use of the word pander, we know that something’s not quite right. If we have to resort to pandering to the base – then we’re compromising something. Or doing something wrong in the process of pandering. Here’s the definition of panderer – one who panders, from dictionary.com.
a person who furnishes clients for a prostitute or supplies persons for illicit sexual intercourse; procurer; pimp.
a person who caters to or profits from the weaknesses or vices of others.
a go-between in amorous intrigues.
The problem is that Trump can’t decide whether he should go after middle of the road voters, law and order voters, Christian voters, Etc. At the same time, he doesn’t want to turn off his extreme right-wing “very fine people”(who) were among the Nazi mobs that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia. When the President made his first vague statement on that violence, he blamed the conflicts on “many sides.”
As much as every candidate likes to say they are running for “all the people” – they don’t. They can’t. Not in this country, at this time. Too many people are on polar opposite sides of too many issues. One of the results of this dilemma is that some of his base crosses over between groups with different philosophies. So he has to look for the weakness and subvert them.
For instance, Christians are most likely to be on the law and order side. For some reason, Christians also tend to make abortion a litmus test – they refuse to vote for anyone who’s not pro-life, no matter how little they appear to care for that life. Just search this site for “abortion” and you’ll see how I feel about that.
The thing is, Christians should also be on the side of doing what’s “right”. And by that I don’t mean the political right. Nor do I mean their personal definition of “right”. I’m talking Jesus’ definition of what is “right”.
Would Jesus ever Pander to the base? Or would He do the right thing?
So when I’m asking Christians to ponder about that pandering question, this is what I’m talking about. Did Jesus ever pander to the base? Or did He do the right thing?
Or would Jesus do the right thing?
Let’s take the second question first.
Of course Jesus always did the right thing. He’s God. And by the right thing, I’m talking about defining right as:
The Greatest Commandment – Matthew
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So when we consider that kind of love, let’s look at the current situation with the riots.
Love isn’t killing George Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. And even if did it, did he know it was fake? Further, even if he knew it was fake, the penalty shouldn’t be – and isn’t – death.
Love also isn’t rioting and looting. Peaceful protest is one thing – rioting and looting is a whole other thing by people who end up preventing the message of the protesters from coming across.
But let’s back up a bit. I was shocked to learn that houses in that part of Minnesota were being sold with clauses in the deeds that the new owners could only sell the house to someone who was 100% Caucasian. That’s not love! How is that even allowed in this country any more?
Love also isn’t incredibly rich people making billions of dollars while the people working for them can’t even afford a living wage. It’s disgraceful. It’s embarrassing. And it’s wrong.
Neither is love bailing out the rich people while making those who can’t afford to live in the first place even worse off from the Covid-19 “relief” bailouts.
If Jesus was in charge here – that wouldn’t happen. However, way back in the Old Testament, God warned the people what would happen if they had their own king instead of Him. Just look at the warnings from God and think about our world today.
Israel Asks for a King
1Sa 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
1Sa 8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
1Sa 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
1Sa 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. ”
1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
1Sa 8:21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”
They wanted a human king – and God let them have it.
Now, we have the “king” we wanted in the U.S. And we have to live with what we, collectively, voted for.
The question is, will we realize that God is the better king? Will we ever learn to vote for someone who wants what’s right – instead of someone who’s just feeding on our fears and pandering for our votes?
The final question – Would Jesus ever Pander to the base?
In a word, the answer to whether or not Jesus would pander to His base is – No!
You see, Jesus has a base of one.
Jesus the Way to the Father
Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
I gave you the entire passage, but let’s focus for the moment on just one phrase:
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father
That’s Jesus’ base. The Father. Everything He does is to bring glory to the Father.
We also need to consider the Trinity – One God being made up of three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Add to that something else Jesus said:
Love for Enemies – Matthew
Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Again, let’s pull just one phrase:
as your heavenly Father is perfect
God is perfect. That is something that every Christian really must believe. Yes – I said and I mean must. If you don’t believe it, you’re not a true Christian. We cannot disbelief what Jesus said and still claim to be Christian.
OK – one more question – who is our base?
If you’re a regular, you know I often have still more questions after the last one. BTW – that’s because I write without having a set conclusion or outline ahead of time. I go where the Spirit and the research take me. And now it’s taken me to another question.
Who is our base? That is, for Christians, who is our base?
The answer was given in those two earlier passages where I gave you the whole thing – but pulled out only a phrase.
Our base, as a Christian, is Jesus. We have to know that. As an extension, since Jesus and the Father are one, and since the Holy Spirit is the mind of Christ – then God is our base. We must realize that also. And live like it.
Conclusion – Would Jesus ever pander to the base?
So, no – Jesus will never pander to His base. And neither should we.
As a result, whatever we do we should do for the glory of God. If that’s familiar, which it should be, it’s from Paul.
1Co 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
That includes voting. Rather than pick one isolated item, I believe we should look at the totality of the person. Look at the context. Just as I always say about reading the Bible, where context, language and culture are important – the same is true for everything else.
So again my question for Christians – does this current president represent what we, as Christians, should be supporting? If you’re one thing is that he’s supposedly pro-life, I have to even question that. Pro what kind of life? A life where the under-privileged, non-white, poor, and / or other classes of people exist to be trampled on for the benefit of the rich and the elite?
Is that really the kind of person Jesus wants us to support? Or does He actually want us to convert that kind of person to be more like Him? I dare say – I believe it’s the latter. Instead of voting for Trump, we should be praying for him. Praying for him to be more like Christ rather than just pandering to Christians in order to try to get our votes.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay