Thought for the Week
“I am proud to be a Christian.”
This was Donald Trump’s response when Pope Francis criticized him for wanting to build a wall to separate Mexico from the USA.
The Pope said: “A person who thinks only about building walls…and not building bridges, is not Christian.” However, Trump then pledged that as president he would use the might of the US military to defend the Vatican against ISIS.
Now, I have no desire to judge Mr Trump’s faith, and taking pot-shots at his dangerous politics is just too easy, but it did strike me that anyone who can use “pride” and “Christian” in the same sentence has indeed missed something quite fundamental about the Christian message.
Whatever the gospel is about, it isn’t about publicly strutting your stuff and protesting what a good Christian you are (as much as we Christians have sometimes been guilty of that). Nor can it be about gun-toting power-projection.
St Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”.
We can so easily forget, after centuries of religious imagery, how degrading crucifixion was. The Romans wouldn’t even mention it in polite company. And yet, from the beginning, Christians proclaimed the Lord of the Universe, the one more powerful than Caesar himself, chose to be humiliated in such a way: It was utterly ridiculous to Roman ears.
Yet the Christian is the follower of this humiliated Jesus. We believe that this foolishness is God’s answer to the powerful, the rich and the seemingly wise.
It’s why, when the Church of Jesus is doing what it was called to do, it will always look out for those society sees as weak and of no account. It is why Christians should be quick to talk of their failings and not of their strength. Sadly, we too often get that wrong.
We’ve just celebrated Easter, a time we remember Christ’s victory and resurrection power. But we also remember that before that day of victory Jesus chose weakness, suffering, pain and humiliation and he did it for love.
That certainly suggests to me that the strong humility of Francis is to be preferred over the weak posturing of Donald. Rev Alistair May Stonelaw Parish Church