So, this has turned out to be quite a long read, but I hope you will give it a shot!
Let me start off by telling you exactly where I am coming from as a voter. I am one of many who desperately wants a third party to get some recognition in our political system. For me, the libertarian party is the party of choice. I like small government, personal responsibility, and liberty in lifestyle. So I went back and forth for a while trying to decide if I would vote for Barr and his libertarian crew. In the end, though, my decision was for John McCain. What it came down to for me was priority. For me avoiding an Obama presidency was more important than making a statement for the Libertarians and since most third party votes come from conservatives and disgruntled republicans, a third party vote served as an aid to Obama and the democrats. So I voted McCain and Obama won, but it’s all good. I felt a lot of pride anyways. It was historical to see our first black president elected and I am glad that I was able to witness it. I appreciated the words and attitude of McCain’s concession speech and I really hope that Obama’s speech is more than rhetoric, but that it is actually reflected in the way he governs our nation. I guess we will see in the next four years.
Let’s remember this, God is sovereign. This has been true under W., it was true under Clinton, and has reigned true all the way back to George Washington. It will remain true under President Obama and it would have remained true under president McCain. Psalm 103:19 reminds us of this “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Christians seem to go into shock when some tenet of our faith and morals fails to succeed in our country’s legislation. Let us remember the ancient Israelites of the Old Testament. For years and years they were governed directly by the very word of God. His commandments and laws were given to Moses and used as the backbone of their nation. Guess what! They were still engulfed in sin. They still battled evil among their selves. They still behaved in ways directly opposed by the word of God. When we fast forward, what do we see? The only answer to this was Christ. In fact, the whole book of Romans tries to get it through our thick skulls that law will never save us, only Christ can. No matter how many laws we pass that honor Biblical principles and no matter how many Biblical principles we neglect, it is the pursuit of Christ that will change us all for the better. And just as Christ does not impose himself on any of us, we cannot impose Him on others through our law. Government and legislation, in my view, are really meant to keep a nation in order and to protect its citizens; not much else.
Let’s briefly look at some of the issues that have been brought up in regards to the Obama presidency. First we have abortion. This is one of the Conservative/Christian token issues. And let me assure you that I find abortion to be a terrible thing. I consider myself to be Pro-Life, but I do get so frustrated with some of my fellow Pro-Lifer’s. I think too often we have a view of our Pro-Choice, liberal neighbors as being in love with abortion. As if they carry around punch cards (remember Subway’s cards back in the day?) collecting abortions to get some sort of prize. I’m pretty sure from talking to people and from my own speculation that 99% of Pro-Choicers think abortion is terrible. The difference is they see it as a necessary option despite its horridness. I think many of them view an abortion the same way we might view open heart surgery. No one ever wakes up excited that they can have open heart surgery, and though the whole process is indeed scary, one is still glad to have the option open to them. And yes, I realize the difference is that open heart surgery does not have the same moral question to it that abortion does in the debate, but I really want you to get the idea that most people, whether Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, don’t like abortions for abortion sake. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t walk away from this thinking that I agree with that stance, but I do believe in order to change people you have to understand where they are coming from. I also don’t believe that legislation is the answer here. As I said earlier, change comes through Christ, not through law. Let those struggling with the decision of an abortion see Christ in us. Imagine if the young girl, single mom, or poor couple trying to make a decision about abortion came into contact with a Christian family or congregation that pledged to help them raise this child. What if they saw us loving our kids, working hard to be successful with our kids even though times are tough? I have to be honest with you, as a youth minister I see kids who get no attention from their parents. I see kids whose parents aren’t the slightest bit involved in their life (even though they live under the same roof.) Many of these parents would be the first to declare their Pro-Life beliefs while their own kids are falling through the cracks. So, let’s lead through the example of Christ. Legislation is never going to change people’s attitudes on the issue.
And this moves me on to America’s poor. Of course, as I learn more about the world the idea of America experiencing any real poverty almost seems ridiculous to me, but that is not the point of this. One of the biggest criticisms we heard about Obama as he ran his campaign was this idea that he would “spread the wealth.” That he would tax those Americans who make a large amount of money and use that money to give to our poorer citizen’s. This money would be dished out directly in some cases and through government programs in other cases. As an advocate of personal responsibility, I do have a hard time accepting Obama’s policy here, but I will say this. Christians, the answer is simple. We should be taking care of the poor. That is Biblical. We may not be able to do it perfectly, but we sure could do better than we are now. I know I don’t do near as much as I am capable of doing. Can you imagine the testimony America would see for Christ if the church truly stepped up and took care of our poor in this country? Can you imagine a situation where Obama’s notion of spreading the wealth would be a moot point because Christ’s bride was meeting the need of the people? You can get upset that politicians want to distribute the wealth around, but I wonder if God isn’t looking down thinking “well, you aren’t doing it, so someone has to.”
There are plenty of other issues that could be discussed, but I am not going to get into them now (by the way, last I checked Obama and McCain agreed on gay marriage.) The bottom line is this; real change will come through Christ, not through our laws. The way we reflect Christ when it comes to abortion, poverty and whatever other issues we consider will make a much more significant impact than any legislation. Anyone can go to rally, hold a sign, and chant, but through the Holy Spirit we can do more by living lives that honor our principles. I fully acknowledge that it is not an easy task and that I am just as guilty as anyone at not being proactive enough in my life to bring real Godly change to my community, but let’s stop looking at politicians and start looking at ourselves, and most importantly, let’s look at Christ. Christ is change.
Now, whether or not you voted for Obama or McCain, Obama won and will be our new president when W. steps down. My friend John Wallace wrote a good post on the way a Christian is to treat their government leaders. If you are a Christian your responsibility is to honor him, respect him and pray for him. The bible tells us that leaders in the government deserve this from us. It is also our duty to confront him on issues where he may err. There is nothing unbiblical about debating and exchanging ideas with a leader we disagree with, however the Bible mandates we do so with love and respect. It urges us to teach gently and warns us not to get caught up in foolish discussions. I’ll be honest. As I looked through the world wide web (mostly on facebook) I saw a lot of rude, hate-filled talk by Christians that embarrassed me. Let’s move on and seek unity until there is a need for a debate, and when that time comes, let us bathe it in prayer and handle it with gentleness and respect.
And for those of you are still persuaded that somehow Obama is some sort of incarnation of evil that will doom America, I hope you will change your thoughts. I hope you will realize that while there may be some changes in our nation, America isn’t going anywhere. And even if by the slightest chance it does, America is not our home, but Heaven is. If, however, you are unable to change your thoughts, let me remind you of the book of Habakkuk. Yes, it’s one of those highly neglected minor prophetic books from the Old Testament. Essentially the prophet Habakkuk gets in a heated discussion with God about the prosperity of evil people. Habakkuk is upset that the evil are prosperous and doesn’t understand why God would allow them such success. God’s simple answer is that he using them to execute his will in ways that Habakkuk is not able to understand at the moment. Remember, like I said at the beginning, God is sovereign. So if you can’t be persuaded that Obama is not a wicked man out for the doom of America as we know it, at least take refuge knowing that God is in control and uses people and circumstances we can’t understand to do his will. Also, on a side note, I would have said the exact same in this paragraph about McCain had he won.