The election of Barack Obama as our 44th President will undoubtedly have a profound impact upon Christian Pastors, Leaders, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Lay people at large. While Obama isn’t the first liberal elected to the office – He is quite possibly the MOST liberal ever elected, and potentially the most opposed to Biblical Christianity. Many don’t seem to understand this because they look at him and see a friendly, handsome, articulate man who seems to be quite decent. But his stated views are antithetical to Scripture…some of his record is downright evil (i.e., partial birth abortion/ infanticide), his associations are leftist to the point of being Marxist (a claim he admits in his autobiography), and many of his advisors are clearly outspoken in their contempt of Biblical Christianity.
As a Pastor…and as an American, I’m currently prayerfully analyzing what changes may take place on the American landscape during an Obama administration…and how we as Christian leaders should respond. Here are some thoughts:
1. Pray. Pray for Obama and other leaders. This may be pride swallowing and difficult to do. But Scripture commands us to do it. (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) As I study God’s Word, I realize that God is sovereign over all things…both good and evil. Consequently, that also assures me that God is more than able to change the heart of any world leader; no matter how entrenched he is in his views.
In the Old Testament, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar was so vile and wicked that he repeatedly persecuted God’s people and put them do death. He demanded worship, as though he were God…and he got away with it, until the REAL God said, “No More!” Nebuchadnezzar’s mental faculties were impaired to the point that he behaved like a cow for 7 years, until his wicked heart became a repentant heart and he praised the true God of Heaven. (see Daniel 4:4-37)
The point of this story is not to wish for God to turn Obama into a cow…but to wish that God would turn Obama into a Christian. You may flinch at this and say he’s already a Christian…but no one who’s heard the infamous Jeremiah Wright preach could rightly assume that Wright even knows the gospel…much less preaches it. And one cannot look at Obama’s views and conclude he is born again….If he was, the conviction of opposing, something like the Born Alive Infant Protection Act would eat him up.
Therefore we must pray for Obama’s salvation…and we must pray that he would truly govern in a way that pleases God. Of course in order for this to happen, he will have to buck the advice of some of his closest advisors…or he’ll have to replace them with other advisors. Both are worthy prayer considerations.
2. Prophesy against the Nation’s Sins. When I say to prophesy, I’m not referring to predictive prophesy whereby we seek to foresee specific events. Nor am I referring to prophecy in terms of “new revelation” from God. The canon of Scripture is complete, and God has spoken clearly. Our job as 21st century “prophets” is to proclaim that written word, in power, in completeness, and in love. Unapologetic Apologists (defenders) for the truth of God’s Word. I believe it is impossible to look at our current political landscape and not see that our ministries will have to take on a clearly prophetic and confrontational tone. And we find no greater example in Scripture than that of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s world was eerily similar to ours. Israel/Judah had once been godly, but in his day they were rebellious, relativistic, severely depraved, and apostate. God would judge the nation unless they repented. And Jeremiah would proclaim this message to a nation that closed its ears and mocked the messenger. Sound familiar? Jeremiah’s calling is the calling of all Christians in 21st century America. Nobody wants to hear the message: “Repent or perish!” But it’s the only message that is faithful to God, and it’s the only message that will save man. Christian pastors will have to “gird up their loins” and prepare for spiritual battle. They will have to toss aside the silly, self-help, psychobabble that permeates American Christianity…and take up the prophet’s mantle to call a nation of sinners to repentance. And those who don’t have the backbone for it will need to find a new line of work in Obama’s promised booming economy. Any pastor who doesn’t have the courage to speak out against the sins of the people in his church, nation, or government is Biblically unqualified for the office he holds and should remove himself, lest he force God to remove him by other means.
I’m currently teaching through Jeremiah on Wednesday nights…and I’m amazed at the similarities between then and now. Furthermore, my good friend Scott Tibbetts, missionary to Thailand, recommended I read Francis Schaeffer’s Death in the City, which is a penetrating analysis of how American culture in our day mimics that of Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Schaeffer rightly observes that America was once a nation that largely knew and respected God’s Word. But that America no longer does. Ironically, Schaeffer originally wrote this book in 1969….if he could only see what America has become today, (he died in 1984) he would know just how accurate his analysis was.
It’s never popular to preach against sin in a roomful of sinners. But we cannot preach the gospel of salvation, unless we point out that there is something to be saved from. A Savior is of no use to someone who doesn’t understand they need saved. And the good news of the gospel cannot be properly shared, without the bad news of sin. Jeremiah was called to speak out against the specific sins of his day…so must we. Abortion is the intentional murder of a defenseless child…and we must thunder that from our pulpits. Homosexuality is a bizarre perversion of God’s intended design…and we must thunder that from our pulpits. Gay marriage is a mockery of the family and a brazen attempt to nullify all marriage as hokey and meaningless…and we must thunder that from our pulpits. Some may say that “thundering” is the wrong approach. But “thundering in love” is the Biblical approach. We cannot deny how passionately we feel about these vital truths and be sincere to the culture that already often accuses us of hypocrisy.
These things may seem easy to speak against for some preachers…but let’s see how easy it is if Obama’s ilk succeeds in having such proclamations classified as “hate speech” that is illegal under new “hate crimes” legislation. How many preachers will have the nerve of Peter and John and say, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 NASB) My prayer is that many will boldly speak God’s Truth, by God’s grace and in God’s power…regardless of the consequences. Will this make us popular with society? No. Will it make us faithful to the God whom we serve? Yes. And that’s all that matters. Schaeffer rightly said: “Christianity is not romantic and soft. It is tough-fibered and realistic. And the Bible gives us the realistic message that Jeremiah preached into his own days, a message I am convinced the church today must preach if it is to be any help in the world. Let us not be surprised at the world’s reaction. The Bible makes it plain that this message is going to be poorly received by a church in revolt and by a culture in revolt…So if you are a Christian looking for an easy ministry in a post-Christian culture, you are unrealistic in your outlook. It was not to be so in Jeremiah’s day, and it cannot be so in a day like our own.” (Death in the City, By Francis Schaeffer, Volume 4 of Compete Works, pg. 226)
3. Politics won’t save America…and politicians certainly won’t. Politics by its very nature is the art of making compromises to get things accomplished…but some things must be off the negotiating table when it comes to political deals…and as Christians we must make this clear to our elected representatives.
I’ve heard many Republicans say in recent days that the party needs to become more liberal, so as to include more people. This is a colossal mistake. John McCain didn’t lose because he was too conservative. He lost because he was a middle of the road, left-leaning Republican who seemed much more comfortable placating Democrats than he did inspiring Republicans. Conservatives embraced him begrudgingly, at best. And for good reason.
But the calling of the Christian is not to sell out God’s truth for the sake of political expediency. The calling of the Christian is to stand for God’s Truth come Hell or high water. Some are saying that Conservatives need to soften their stand on social issues like abortion and gay marriage so the Republican Party can “expand its base.” But this will only serve to obliterate the base and turn the party into a slightly less liberal version of the Democrat party. So future elections will be between two nearly identical versions of the same political hacks who have gotten our country into the mess it’s in today. Though politics will never save America, we should use the governmental system we’ve been placed in to fight for the moral decency of God’s Truth.
Take Daniel as an example. Though placed in a pagan Babylonian culture, Daniel refused to bend in his allegiance to God; while at the same time serving within the government of the wicked nation. By so doing, he was a Godly voice in an un-Godly society…and he didn’t do it by going soft on his beliefs. He did it by staying true, and speaking out at the peril of his life. Too many of our political leaders today are only concerned with lining their pockets and expanding their power. The thought of taking an unpopular moral stand for the sake of truth is foreign to them. We need more Daniels.
It is my sincere conviction that Christians must answer the call during such perilous times as these. Our nation has lurched left, but we must stand for what is “right.” As Christians, we can truthfully say that “Our God Reigns” – and His Sovereign power trumps all politicians, parties, nations, organizations, armies, and people. Ultimate power doesn’t reside with the government, nor with the people. Ultimate power belongs to God. So it is with full confidence and faith in the power of God to protect, embolden, and save that we as Christians must commit to courageously living and speaking the truth of God. It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary, if we are to be obedient to our God, and a witness to our culture. Prayer, Prophesy, and Politics in the way that I have defined them, is what we must commit ourselves to. We stand on the precipice of potentially dramatic changes to our country and our freedom. Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Good and Godly men (and women) must act. We must be courageous. We cannot be cowards. Our country has enough of those already. The coming days in America could be very interesting. I wonder aloud, how the people of God will respond. I wonder how Pastors will respond. I wonder how YOU will respond.
Shane Kastler, Pleasanton, KS
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” Psalms 91:1-2 (NASB)