I've been pretty quiet here all through the U.S. election season. This blog isn't intended as a place for me to espouse or even share my political views; it's not a politics blog and I don't want it to turn into one, and that's been a big part of what's been on my mind. Certainly it is part of my "life" as a "Christian" (see the blog's title!) but I just don't want to go there on this platform... because I don't think that you should use your Christianity as the reason for your politics. I don't mean by that that you shouldn't vote for the person who you believe will provide the most Godly leadership out of all of the candidates, no matter what the office, but I don't think that you should hang your Christianity on your political party. Politics by its nature is divisive, but Jesus by His nature seeks to draw everyone to Himself. If I say "I'm a Republican because I'm a Christian," what are people who are not Christians but who have strong opinions which contradict the Republican platform supposed to think? That they aren't allowed in the "Christian" club because they are members of the "Democrat" club? I just don't think that's a good path to follow. Jesus loves and accepts political liberals, moderates, conservatives, and whatever - all the same - and does not require them to change their political ideas except in any areas that contradict God's Word. And those ways are often fewer than we think.
Anyway, now that the elections are over, I do have a few thoughts to share... with my Christian friends, mostly. The ones who wanted Mitt Romney to win. I will start with full disclosure: I didn't want President Obama to win again. I don't think he's done the job that needed to be done, and I wanted to give the other guy a crack at it. That said, I have something to say to my Christian friends who agree with me on that.
My message to my Christian friends is this: RELAX.
Let's back up for a second. I live in Oklahoma, which is as red of a state as you are going to find. I grew up in Louisiana and Texas, which are also very red Southern states. And most of my friends are thoroughly Republican Christians. Overall I think they (we?) are pretty disappointed that Obama won a second term. But I don't believe that a second four years for a President who may have failed to accomplish what needed to be accomplished is the end of the world for Christianity or Christians, or even the end of the United States of America. I think God is present in America today the same as He was present yesterday, in the hearts and lives of His people.
I'm going to take the devil's advocate for a moment and argue from the assumption that Obama is the worst of what conspiracy theorists and wild-eyed alarmists think he is: evil incarnate, bent on ruining this country by turning it into something it has never been before and should never be, and lacking the common sense to do even the simplest things for the actual good of the country. (This is not my own view; I don't think the President is an evil man. But let's assume for the moment that he is.) What precedents do we have in the Word of God for a ruler like that?
Let's think about the life of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery into the land of a pagan king. Once he was there, God brought Joseph such success that not only did he prosper personally, but he brought his whole extended family in to enjoy the prosperity, and ultimately that family grew so large that 400+ years later, a future pagan king felt threatened by their presence. Now THAT is prosperity under an unrighteous ruler.
What about Daniel? He was a prisoner of war, brought into the court of yet another pagan king who not only tried to get him to do things that contradicted his religious convictions, but after Daniel and his friends proved their value to the king and became trusted advisors, the king stupidly and more than once was talked into executing them (God saved them each time, Daniel from the lions and his three friends from death by burning in a furnace). Not only was Daniel made a top advisor to that king, but he outlived two or three more kings, becoming a top adviser in turn to each of them. How's THAT for a lifetime of prospering under unrighteous leadership?
And let's take Esther. Forced to marry the king and become the queen (forced to become the queen?) she was able to save her whole people group when she exposed a situation that the king was stupid enough to let his adviser talk him into, condemning to death not only her, but a man who had just a few days earlier saved the king's life. A pagan king? Yes. Unrighteous? Yes (forcing women to marry you is not a righteous act). Dumb? Yes (not thinking through policies that are presented by your advisers is dumb leadership). Did Esther and the people of God survive and prosper?
Yes they did.
Even Jesus Himself came into the world during the reign of a pagan oppressor (Rome), but Jesus did not seek to correct any of the political problems of His day. Our situation is a bit different in the 21st century United States, of course, and we have the privilege/right/responsibility to take part in the political process by the mechanisms the Constitution gives us. But my point is that God does not always see fit to immediately remove rulers who are not Godly or even not that smart. In the end, the only thing in the Bible that ever caused God's people to ultimately not prosper is not their leadership: it is their own unrighteousness. God's people failed to prosper not when their leaders were bad, but when they chose not to maintain their own relationship with God.*
Now, let's get back to reality. President Obama may be a bad President. Or, he may be a good President. We may, in future years, reap benefits as a nation from the work he's done for the past four years and the work he will do in the next four, or we may suffer the consequences. Sometimes historical hindsight reveals a forest we were unable to see for the trees at the time. But as individual children of God, we can trust that He will make all things, even President Obama, work together for our good. God's power is greater than the power of any other ruler, and if you don't agree with that statement, perhaps you're not thinking of the same god I'm thinking of. The Kingdom of God is not the United States of America; the Kingdom of God exists within His people. And God will take care of His people. We will not be destroyed.
So quit the pouting. It's all going to be okay. :)
Still freaking out a little bit? Take a look at this blog post which a friend of mine linked to on Facebook yesterday.
Don't miss Part 2 and Part 3 of this impromptu series!