Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks for Barack Obama

My co-worker Robb Brunansky wrote an excellent entry that expresses some of my own thoughts:

While I am deeply grieved as I consider the prospects for the unborn over the next several years, perhaps decades, as a result of the past election, in another sense, part of me is thankful Obama won. Now, before you castigate me as a turncoat, a post-conservative, post-evangelical, post-whatever pseudo-Christian, let me explain. A couple days following the election, Dr. Mohler (whom I respect more and more the more that I see his leadership and biblical thoughtfulness) was interviewed by ABC news. In the interview, he made this comment: “It [The election outcome] just ought to remind many Christians we have placed too much confidence in the political process in the first place.” A few days earlier, my former professor, Pat Howell, encouraged Christians to pour as much energy into the Great Commission as they do the United States elections. I think these two comments are a great complement to one another. I think these two comments are a great complement to one another, and I do not believe their relationship would have been seen clearly like it is today if Obama had lost.

As American Christians, we have placed far too much faith in the political process. The Bible clearly tells us not to trust in princes, in whom there is no salvation. We know that the world system lies in the power of the evil one, and that the nations rage against God and against His Messiah. Peter reminded us not to be surprised when we undergo intense persecution, and Jesus Himself told us not to be surprised if the world hates us. If you go to the ABC news website and read comments by readers about Mohler’s interview, or about other election issues, the animosity toward Christians is palpable. Of course, there are people who profess to be Christians that do not help our reputation any with the world, but nevertheless, many times it is not so much individuals that are attacked but the biblical standard of truth and righteousness. The more time one spends outside the Church, the more it becomes clear that America is not becoming non-Christian, but anti-Christian in many respects. I think this election is a signal of this shift, though I would argue (not extensively here) that this shift is not complete or final, yet. The reason this shift is occurring is not ideological or cultural but spiritual. While admittedly some pagans within our culture embrace certain norms of righteousness delineated in the scriptures because the law of God is written on their hearts, everyone outside of Christ is by nature hostile toward God and toward His law. Fortunately, that hostility does not manifest itself in America like it does in, say, Saudi Arabia. However, I think that fact has deceived us into thinking that people in our culture are rational, moral, upright, and reasonable. It has led us to believe against everything we know from Scripture that we can impose a biblical morality on culture apart from that culture being transformed by the gospel. We have put too much trust in the political process because we have forgotten the basics of the gospel, with the first point being that man is totally depraved, dead in sin, hostile toward God, and unable to please God. I am thankful Obama won because we now have a stark and necessary reminder of these truths that will, I hope, shift our attention to where the true war is waged, a war with far more at stake than an earthly nation. The victory that can be won in this war would far outweigh the political battle (important though it was) that was lost on November 4.

My prayer for the next four years will be that Pat Howell’s exhortation becomes a reality, that believers will spend the vast majority of their time and energy and money spreading the glory of Christ in the gospel rather than fighting Obama and his administration with fleshly weapons. Fleshly weapons (read: the political process) are the butter knives, brothers and sisters; the real sword that will win the battle is the Word of God, which is able to demolish strongholds. None of this is to say that we stop fighting for the lives of the unborn, or that we neglect the biblical teaching regarding marriage and passively allow homosexual “marriage” to become permissible in our nation, or that we condone the inhumane treatment of Chinese citizens by their unjust government, or that we neglect the impoverished of the world while we enjoy our prosperity. I’ll talk about some of these things and the way they shine forth the Gospel in upcoming posts. What I am saying is that the most powerful weapon we have in our fight against these evils and all others is the Gospel. If Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were converted, along with millions of Americans across this land, abortion would end, marriage would be rightly understood as a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church, and we would give generously to the poor and needy, especially those in Christ, all over the globe. Brothers and sisters, let’s pour everything we have into the gospel, and the world will be turned upside down.

Last night in prayer meeting, my pastor brought some of these same encouragements and truths to our attention. While we certainly do not want to rejoice in nor condone evil things (Prov. 2:14), we are to give thanks for the leaders God has placed over us, and that includes Obama. 1 Tim. 2:1-2 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."

Remember that these words were probably written when Nero was ruler of the Roman Empire.

And we must remember that Romans 13 says:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.


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