Everyone Needs to Calm Down (Especially Evangelical Christians)

I can’t remember a time when evangelical Christians were so uptight (many, not all) about the political landscape, unless it was back in the 60’s when they wanted to impeach Earl Warren (yes, I’m old enough to remember it – and they were uptight).

You would think that God had just stepped off of His throne and Hillary was taking over the universe. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God is still in control.

We like to say that He’s in control but the evangelical blogs, the Facebook posts, the Twitter feeds, the emails and the scare tactics seem to indicate otherwise.

The way that many evangelical are acting you would think that if Clinton wins this election, the world as we know it will come to an end. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t but I’m sure of this – God will still be in control on November 9th and every day after that.

I’m not making light of the importance of this election. It may well signal a sea-change in our nation. And, yes I believe evangelical Christians should exercise their freedom to vote for the candidate that they believe can best lead our nation.

But where’s our faith? Is it in the political process? Or in our ability to elect the “right” candidate? Or is it in God, who by the way is still in control.

The writer of Hebrews didn’t tell us to keep our eyes on the Republican Party; or on Donald Trump; or on passing the right laws or policies. He told us to keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). There’s a reason for that. God is still in control.

Hey, we believe that God will bring about His will no matter who’s in the White House. We believe that He will bring about His will no matter who sits on the Supreme Court.

And isn’t that what we ultimately want – God’s will?

I’m not ignoring our responsibility to get involved in the political process. I’m just questioning the panic (even hysteria) that is the result of an unbalanced view of the sovereignty of God. When we say that God is in control we are confessing that He is sovereign over all things, including the election of our president.

So here’s my suggestion: Everyone just needs to calm down. Stop with the scare tactics. Stop telling people who God wants to be president. Stop pontificating on the end of civilization if your candidate isn’t elected.

Go ahead and try to persuade people to vote for your candidate; vote your conscience. But get a grip on reality! God is still in control.

That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:6).

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

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President Obama is Not the Enemy

I come from a place, literally, philosophically and religiously, where people struggle greatly with President Obama. Many in fact do more than just struggle; they have such strong convictions and feelings that it’s just a step this side of hatred. Be honest. Some of you are (sadly) there and some are almost at that point.

The reasons for such strong feelings vary. For some it’s the intrusion of government into our lives.  For others it’s the lack of economic discipline, the trampling of religious freedoms, or the specter of socialism. For many it’s all of the above.

It’s good to have differences with the President. I have no problem with people who disagree with him on his health care initiative, his stance on marriage, his soft support for Israel and his position on abortion. Our democracy was founded on the right of the minority (sometimes the majority) to openly and vigorously express their dissent with the direction our leaders are taking our country. But for the Christian dissent cannot be regulated just by our constitution. In a higher sense it must first of all be regulated by our faith.

So how do we respond to a President with whom we have such great and consequential differences? I think that there are several things that we can and should do as Christians.

1. Pray for the President.

This isn’t just a good suggestion, it’s a divine directive. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Period. Not if we like him, agree with him or voted for him. Just pray for him. And not just pray that God would remove him from office. That’s not the spirit of the passage. Pray that God will use him. Pray for his health. Pray for his family. Pray for him to have wisdom. Pray for him to make the right decisions. And while you’re at it you might pray that your heart will be right before God.

2. Respect the man.

We like to say that we respect the office but not the man. That’s a Christian cope-out – not to mention unbiblical. There’s no place in scripture that teaches that Christians can disrespect anyone. In fact just the opposite is true. The Apostle Peter wrote, Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king (1 Peter 2:17). We may not have a king but that doesn’t change the message. We are to honor to all people including our leaders, no matter how strongly we may disagree with them. Peter’s king was Nero who unleashed one of the greatest waves of persecutions against Christians up to that point in history, using them as human torches to light the city of Rome. Yet Peter’s message was that we are to honor (a word that refers to placing a value on something or someone) the king. How can you honor the President if you don’t first of all respect the man?

3. Agree with him when you can.

The popular sentiment in our political culture seems to be that if you are from one political party or persuasion you can never agree with those from another party or persuasion. For conservatives there is a fear that if they ever agree with the President they will be labeled with a scarlet M (as in moderate) which for many would be tantamount to political suicide. But you don’t have to be a moderate to agree with someone from the other side; you just have to be more interested in doing the right thing than in the political fallout. Are we to believe that there is no single issue on which we can agree with President Obama? If there is an issue on which we can agree, then isn’t opposing him at that point not only betraying our values but more importantly, betraying our faith (honesty vs. dishonesty)?

You don’t have to be on board with everything the President does, and I hope that you have differences with him on a whole range of issues that we as Christians hold dear. But neither should you reach the point where your passion leads you into sin. Strong disagreement is fine, hatred, disrespect and unkind words are not.

It’s important to remember that President Obama, for all of his political positions with which we may disagree, is not the enemy.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

When Politics Trumphs Faith

By now anyone who listens to the news knows that our president has finally endorsed gay marriage. While this does not come as a great surprise to many, the timing does. After years of equivocating on the issue why did the president choose this time to announce his position? Was it a preemptive move designed to make sure it did not become an issue in the final days of the campaign? Was it to shore up support among his liberal base? What motivated him to take a position that he has avoided for so long? We may never know.

What does seem obvious, however, is that this was a political move, not one motivated by a deep religious belief. In spite of the fact that the president gave a rather weak biblical reason for his decision, does anyone really believe that he was guided by his faith? Several facts point in the opposite direction. In the past the President has not been secretive about the fact that he often seeks religious guidance from a group of spiritual advisors. Among them is Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical pastor. Yet Rev. Hunter was not sought out for advice prior to the President announcing this decision. In Hunter’s own words he wasn’t surprised that the President didn’t contact him because I would have tried to talk him out of it, presumably on biblical grounds.

Another indication that this was a politically motivated announcement is that within two hours after making his position known, the President and his advisors were on the telephone contacting influential black pastors to limit the political fallout. As Yahoo! News reported, the conference call was part of a quiet effort by the president to control potential political damage caused by his support of same-sex marriage. To their credit many of the pastors contacted stood true to the Word of God. Typical was Bishop Timothy Clark of the First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio who opposed the president’s position and told his congregation on Sunday that this is a religious issue for Christians. The spiritual issue is ground in the Word of God. He went on to say, I believe the statement the president made and his decision was made in good faith. I am sure because the president is a good man. I know his decision was made after much thought and consideration and, I’m sure, even prayer. I wish I could be as confident that the president actually prayed about the rightness and the righteousness of his decision.

The lesson for Christians (and even non-Christians) is that this is the result of taking one part of God’s Word (in this case the Golden Rule – Matthew 7:12) that appears to support a preconceived position while ignoring those teachings that don’t support it (in this case Romans 1:27). We have all been guilty of this at times, but what raises this situation to a critical level is not only the extraordinary influence of the president but the very survival of marriage itself in our society. The principles of Luke 12:48 come into play here; for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. The president needs to be more concerned about answering to God than to his political allies.

As Christians it’s appropriate to point out where we disagree with the president based on the truth of God’s Word. It’s also appropriate for us to pray that God will open his eyes to that same truth (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let’s redouble our efforts and pray for our president as never before.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve