Posts Tagged ‘President’

Jun
05
2012

10 Things for Christians To Consider This Election Season

So now the primaries are officially over and we have a contest between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the Presidency of the United States. Inevitably, American Christians will fall on one side or the other in what will likely be a long, divisive, tough campaign to the end. So, how should we as followers of Christ act during election season? This isn’t the last word and it isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few things we might consider:

1) Remember to grateful for the election. As Americans, we live in a representative republic, so we have the rare opportunity to shape our government. Partisanship and politics can be wearying and noisy and half-crazy at times, but at least we have the freedom to express ourselves and to vote. This isn’t happening in most countries around the world. So just at the point when you’re tired of looking at political signs and a bit weary of the sloganeering, remember those dissidents who sit in jail cells around the world, merely for having an opposing thought. We have a stewardship to vote, granted by God, and we should use it responsibly.

2) Don’t Put Your Trust in Chariots. Be grateful for the opportunity to elect the President you feel will best lead our country. But don’t fall into the trap that everything in history and in your life depends on one rainy Tuesday in November. Don’t be a practical atheist, white-knuckling election night, sweating every ebb and flow of the season, and acting as if you need to build a fortified bunker if “the wrong guy wins.” Advocate and work for your guy, but put your trust in the Lord. God holds history in the palm of his hand and is not at all worried sick about which party controls the levers of power in America.

3) Ignore most of the political appeals you hear from both sides. To win in modern American politics, you have to paint the other guy as something a combination of an axe murder, a village idiot, and a helpless puppet. You have to dig for an scent of scandal, blow it up in an ominous, black-and white ad, and convince people that if this guy wins you might as well move to Canada. Both sides will do this. But the truth is somewhere in between. It is a good idea to periodically tune out the election news during election season, toss those pesky mailers, and hang up your phone when you hear the gravel-voiced narrator begin his robo-calls of doom.

4) Advocate issues, avoid the petty stuff. It’s amazing how easily campaigns delve into petty stuff like how many vacations the President takes, the color of the First Lady’s dress, and the habits of the candidates while in high-school. Vote for a guy because he holds positions closest to yours. Advocate issues of importance and weight. Resist being drug into the gutter and arguing for or against issues that have little or no consequence.

5) Avoid the “ends-justifies-the-means” of politics. When President Bush was in office the left smeared him unfairly, comparing him to Hitler and tarring him as a war criminal. This was unfair. So now that President Obama is in office, many on the Right feel what was good for one side is good for the other. “All is fair in love and war” we say. This is true . . . unless you happen to be a follower of Christ and you’re commanded, repeatedly, to measure your words, to be kind, to love, to speak truth. Remember that even in politics, you are to act and talk like a Christian.

6) Don’t let your political differences ruin friendships. It is easy to allow political differences to drive a wedge in important friendships. But we must prize our love for our brothers and sisters in the Lord and our friendships with those outside the faith, above the strong opinions we hold. That doesn’t mean we back down, it means we find a way to get along with people with whom we disagree. Friendships within and without the church are vital for gospel ministry. Don’t let the temporal of politics get in the way of the eternal.

7) Don’t fall for conspiracy theories. Don’t forward emails that are less than true or haven’t been verified by reputable sources. Its easy to want to believe the worst about our political enemies, but God calls us to believe the truth (1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 4:8). Don’t post on Facebook or Twitter questionable stories or theories. As Christians we should be about truth.

8) Don’t allow politics to convince you to hate those whom Jesus has called you to love. Politics likes to divide things up nicely into good guys and bad guys, to see the “other side” as the enemy. If you read enough political blogs and listen to talk radio and watch enough cable news, you will soon develop a mentality that sees only those who agree with you as good people and the rest as enemies. Furthermore, it clouds the real battle. We’re told in Scripture that people are not the enemy, Satan is. And our fight is never against mere mortals, but part of a larger, worldwide spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:2). Plus, if you convince yourself to hate certain segments, how then can you lovingly reach them with the good news of the gospel?

9) Avoid the “out there” mentality. The weakness of political engagement is that it lends itself away from self-reflection. The partisan mind constantly thinks all the worst problems in the world are “out there.” The gospel, however, forces us into sober self-reflection. It reminds us that the real problem is inside, in our own depraved hearts. The Apostle Paul, who lived under the oppression of a wicked and tyrannical government, said “I am the chief of sinners.” He didn’t point to Nero. He said, “No, I’m the biggest problem.” It’s easy to blame Hollywood, Wall Street, and the media for all of our woes, but if we were honest and allowed the gospel to penetrate our hearts, we’d realize that we are our own worst enemies.

10) Look for a better city. Politics is driven by a God-given longing for utopia, a desire for perfection, by the dawning reality that life on this earth is not how it should be. Politicians come along and promise to fix things, to build that utopian dream we all desire. The problem is that politicians are flawed. They are not saviors. And this world is cursed by sin. So like Abraham, we must look for another city, whose “builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:1).” One day Christ will return as reigning King and will set up the ultimate, perfect Kingdom.

 

Mar
28
2012

5 Attitudes for Christians in a Political Season

So another Presidential campaign season is upon us and Christians are engaged at all levels and on both sides of most debates. As a recovering political junkie, I realize how easily my time, my energy, my attitudes can get sucked into the life force of Presidential politics. So here are a few attitudes that we might consider as we engage:

1) An Attitude of Prayerfulness for the Politicians (1 Timothy 2:2)

This is hardest to do and least obeyed command when it comes to our political leaders. Its easier to fire off a nasty email/tweet/Facebook post/blog instead of actually committing to daily prayer for our leaders, whether we agree with them or not. I must admit that I’m consistently having to repent of this disobedience.

We should pray for President Obama and his wife and children during a grueling season. We should pray for the Republican opponent and his family during a grueling season. We should pray for Congressman and Governors and Mayors and local school board officials, etc. And we should not just pray with a grudging, “These guys are idiots, boy do they need prayer” mentality, but genuinely pray with concern for their well-being.

2) An Attitude of Humility (James 4:6)

Politics feeds sharp debate among people who disagree on issues. These are deeply held beliefs. On certain issues, we feel, genuinely, that we are right and must stand up. But we can and should do that with humility. We’re not right on every single argument. We don’t know everything. Despite how we talk, we probably wouldn’t do better than the guys in office. We’re sinners like they are. And God loves them as much as He loves us. So as we engage, let’s try to avoid the kind of chest-beating rhetoric that tempts those who seek power.

3) An Attitude of Faith (2 Timothy 1:7)

Let’s be honest. Much of what drives elections is fear. Both sides gin up fear about the other side. All you have to do is read some of the mailers you get. “Did you know that my opponent was in favor of ___ or was supported by ___ or hangs out with ___? Vote for me. I don’t do that.” Politics is not so much about the good qualities of the candiate, its about “driving up the negatives” of the other guy. Fear also drives much of the programming on cable news programs and talk radio.

That’s not to belittle or dismiss the real fears we might have. There is evil in the world. There are concerns about our nation and about the world. But Christians can’t and shouldn’t be driven by fear, but by confidence in the sovereignty of God. Christians should live with an eye to the next world, Heaven. That doesn’t mean we should ignore injustice or do nothing, but we shouldn’t be driven by fear, but by mission.

4) An Attitude of Love (Ephesians 4:15)

It’s all too tempting to engage politics and check our Christianity at the door. We justify snarkiness and insults and half-truths and gossip about folks with whom we disagree. We justify it because “we’re on the right side.” But even if we are on the right side of an issue, that doesn’t give us the right to treat our enemies with disdain. I’m amazed at the stuff Christians post on Facebook about people with whom they disagree. This isn’t right. We can be stand firm in our beliefs and still show respect. Jesus’s ministry was all about the balance of grace and truth (John 1:14). In fact, I think we gain an audience when we demonstrate clear, logical, fair, reasoned arguments, rather than falling prey to the nasty rhetoric that passes for political dialog these days.

5) An Attitude of Justice (Micah 6:8)

What should drive our political engagement is the mission of God. This means we should be discerning about issues we engage, rather than accepting the entire matrix of issues offered by “our side.” Christians should fight for justice, whether that’s defending the unborn, defending the poor, defending righteousness. We may differ on solutions, etc, but we should be more engaged in issues than personalities. Sometimes we approach politics like we do American Idol. We grew to love our favorite personality and defend them to the death, at the expense of the issues. Or we oppose a politician to the death, dismissing the areas where they may be good on some issues. Perhaps Christians should take a more ala carte approach, speaking out on a few important issues and voting accordingly.

In Summary: Above all, Christians must first remember that they are Christians, that even in the rough-and-tumble arena of politics, we represent Christ.

Oct
04
2011

Do We Need an Evangelical President?

It’s the beginning of Republican primary season and most of us, though we try, can’t help but be interested in the dynamics of the unfolding drama. It’s the time when political conservatives come out in full force and when GOP candidates hit the hustings, pitching themselves as the solution to America’s problems. One of the perennial questions, especially in the primary race, is the faith of the candidates. Many of them are quick to establisher their “evangelical bona fides.” And it’s the time when the media tries to figure out exactly what an evangelical is. What’s even more interesting is our reaction to the media’s attempt to define us. I think it says a lot about the depth of our faith.

We’re a typically reactive bunch. We don’t like when the New York Times mischaracterizes us. We feel we have to stand up and push back. Hey, we’re cool. We’re not weird. Stop being mean. And then we push hard to get one of our guys in office, as if to prove that we can hold power. But even though voting and electing people of faith is a good thing, I wonder if we put too much stock in this earthly kingdom, rather than the Kingdom of Heaven. We take satisfaction at earthly victories, as if putting a Christian in the highest office will somehow prove that our faith is valid. Because having a Christian President means we’ve won something.

But Jesus said that Christians would always be a minority. True Christianity won’t be cool. And in our search to be loved by the world, I think we lose something. We lose authenticity.

I wonder if a humble spirit of forgiveness wouldn’t be a better model. Sure, we should work to make America a better place. And we should vote our values. But a Christianity that demands respect, that whines about perceived persecution–does that kind of faith properly live out the gospel? And does it win anyone over?

I’d love to have a believer in the White House, if only because he/she will have access to the Holy Spirit’s power to direct his or her life. But I also cringe, because a pushy, arrogant Christianity is a poor representation of the humble, servant-like posture of a true disciple.

So as I make my choice for President, I won’t vote for someone merely because they checked the “Christian” or “evangelical” box. I want to see how that faith is lived out in the public square. I’ll also look at their positions on other issues and their ability to lead, how they treat their political enemies, and their temperament. It could be that someone who doesn’t profess faith might make a better President. Though faith is preferred, history is full of God working through leaders who weren’t believers.

Mostly I think we need to get over the idea that a Christian President somehow validates our faith. It doesn’t at all. What validates the message of Christianity is something that happened 2,000 years ago: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May
18
2011

10 Things I’m Not Looking for in a President

Primary season (that silly time when potential aspirants for President schlepp around Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina in an attempt to win their party’s nomination) is upon us. As a fairly conservative Christian, I’m anticipating the primaries. I do respect our current President and feel he’s done an admirable job on some tough issues. I also admire his dedication to his family. But I’m likely to choose a more conservative alternative, mainly because of the issues like abortion, traditional marriage, and government spending. I’m not under the illusion that a change in party will fix all the problems and I’m not pinning all my hopes and dreams on a particular movement. I also don’t think any of the candidates are “God’s candidates.” Nevertheless, I must eventually vote, so I need to start thinking about some of these things.

Around primary season, voters typically look for the candidate most in line with their values. They typically have a list of things the candidate must be in terms of issues, etc. I thought it would be interesting to post a list of things I’m not looking for. Here’s my ten:

Read More

Nov
08
2010

Thank God for the President

1 Timothy 2:1-2

Sometimes I don’t like the Bible.

That might shock, since I’m a pastor, Christian author, and speaker. But sometimes I don’t like the Bible.

What I mean by that is this. Sometimes I read the Bible and nod my head and love what it is saying to me.

But other times I read the Word and like sandpaper on the soft timber of my soul, it grates, it rubs, it, well, it convicts.

Read More