When I read this last week’s Gospel, my mind wandered to the Presidential Election this year, for in his words from Luke 14:25-33, Jesus tells the large crowds following him that anyone who wants to become his disciple must make some tough decisions and sacrifices. Turn away from your family and friends, give up all of your possessions. Some of this may be hyperbole, but He also asks for preparedness, to not taking something on without doing a little research. He’s asking us to think things through. Blind faith is not what he’s asking here. He wants his followers to understand exactly how difficult it will be to follow him. In the context of its times, the cost of discipleship is dear to those earlier followers of Jesus. In order to share the good news of the Kingdom, Jesus requires total devotion, and those devoted to the Jesus Movement of the First Century C.E. trod on dangerous ground. We know from history that the early church went through periods of persecution. To be a Christian was a death sentence for some. It also meant to embrace a new way of living and thinking, for time and again, that is what Jesus was teaching. A new order was replacing the old where every person was on equal standing with God and creation.
So what’s this got to do with the strangest, scariest, nastiest, presidential campaign in my memory?
Being willing to change and more than willing to prepare oneself for a future of unknowns and accept that everything isn’t about you, but about the people in the country, to be a partner with world leaders because it all is about making the world a better and equitable place for everyone.
The Republican candidate keeps saying that he’s got some great judgment and he’s a great leader. From what I’ve read and heard, he likes to use the word ‘great’ to describe himself and what he can do, what he’s done. Great. Actions, they say, speak louder than words, and that is what Jesus is asking his disciples. Are you willing to make sacrifices like turning away from your family, are you willing to give up material goods, even your home and livelihood to follow Jesus? This is what I’m asking the candidate. Is he willing to sit down and take some time to think out a plan for building that tower Jesus talks about in Verses 29 to 30? Think of the tower as our society. Will he have enough to complete it, or will he, when the foundation is laid, realize what he wants can’t be done, and then walk away? If he wins the election and becomes the President, will he sit in the Oval Office for one day and then realize it’s a tower he can’t finish? Blame someone else – like those who voted for him and put him there? And best of luck with the Obstructionist Congress, Mr. Trump; you’re white, rich, and bombastic, just like some of the leaders, but do you really think you can work with them or get them to accept your way of thinking? Is this going to be yet another foundation with a half-built tower?
Again, Jesus tells us that to follow him will cost dearly in the way we think and live. That follows to every aspect of our lives and should especially hold to those who wish to lead.
Jesus finished what he started. Can we?
I know some of try every day and succeed. Now let’s see if others can.