It must have been one doozy of a sight. On one side, you have John the baptizer, dressed in a camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and on the other side you had the Pharisees and Sadducees, likely prim and proper, dressed to the nines, and smelling of oils and incense.
The difference between John and the religious leaders of the time could not have been more stark. The closest comparison I could come up with would be if the poorest of Appalachian country preachers was standing by a river, and the Pope, replete with all his pomp and circumstance showed up to get baptized by him. That would come close to the contrast that played out on the banks of the Jordan river.
Everyone knew who the Pharisees and Sadducees were, just as readily as everyone would know who the Pope was if he showed up to get baptized by the aforementioned country preacher. They knew these men were the religious luminaries of their time, the ones the masses went to for spiritual direction and succor.
This is where overeager volunteer fruit inspectors conflate something that ought not to be conflated. They take the words John the Baptizer spoke to the Pharisees, men who were outwardly religious, perhaps even said all the right things at exactly the right time, and broad brush everyone in the world with the same sentiment.
Mention that anyone not a spiritual leader did something good, or noble, or decent, and their response is, “pish tosh, there’s no fruit there.”
Even so, does it take away from the nobility, decency, or goodness of what the individual did?
It’s no secret I am far harsher on pastors, preachers, or evangelists who fall into sin than I am on individuals who do not label themselves as such. The reason for this ought to be self-evident: when a preacher falls, there’s a good chance his fall will precipitate the fall of others in his orbit, or at least sow doubt in their hearts as to whether or not they can hold fast and battle the sin that would so easily beset them.
“If Preacher, Bishop, Prophet, or Evangelist so and so couldn’t keep on the straight and narrow, what chance do I have?”
These people are responsible for the spiritual lives of others, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees were responsible back in the day. This is likewise the reason John was so harsh on them, calling them a brood of vipers, and admonishing them to bear fruit worthy of repentance.
Why didn’t Jesus rebuke Pilate as heatedly as John rebuked the Pharisees? In fact, why didn’t Jesus rebuke Pilate as heatedly as He rebuked Peter? Because Jesus made the distinction between a spiritual leader and a political leader.
I don’t think anyone is saying that Donald Trump is a paragon of virtue and righteousness to rival the saints of old. What I am saying, is that within the context of him being a political leader, it doesn’t matter. Do I pray that he is truly saved? Yes, I do. Am I in any position to judge whether or not the man has any fruit of repentance? No I am not.
None of the would be fruit inspectors trolling the internet know anything more about the man than you or I do. I see him for a few minutes on television just like they do, and no, I cannot bring myself to possess the level of hubris required for me to unequivocally say, “Fruitless! Cut it down and burn it!”
I don’t know what the man is doing the other twenty-three hours per day I’m not seeing him, or what he does when he’s alone, and neither do they.
If we do not allow for the possibility of change, then the guy that acted as the coat check for the men who stoned Stephen to death would never have had a chance to become Paul the Apostle of Christ.
To paraphrase the aforementioned Paul, whether Donald Trump is defending the unborn out of envy and rivalry or out of goodwill, whether he is standing up for life out of love or selfish ambition, whether he is doing it out of false motives or true, it is being done, and because of this I rejoice.
Just as an aside, and a purely objective observation, if it were truly out of false motives, or just to get my vote, I think he already knows he wouldn’t have to try so hard. Between the current field of psychotics on the other side, who are one vote away from demanding life sentences for parents who object to gender reassignment hormone treatments for their three year old, and the full and legal right to murder a baby for any reason well after it’s born viable, and the guy who actually shows up at the national prayer breakfast, defends the unborn, and highlights Christian persecution around the world more than any other president that came before him, I know where my vote’s going.
Funny how the past administration loathed and despised anything Christian, including individuals who practiced Christianity, yet none of the keyboard warriors inspected those fruits.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.