Monday, January 19, 2009

A New President

On the eve of the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama, there are a couple of observations that I would like to share.

First, although I would much prefer that Obama were far more socially conservative, it is of huge significance that our nation has elected our first African-American president.  To have a black American chosen as our chief executive and commander-in-chief makes such a clear statement about the positive progress Americans have made in the path to racial reconciliation.  There is much progress still to be made, but for now we celebrate the simple yet momentous fact that the color of one's skin can no longer keep him from the highest public office in the land.  Again, although it should be no surprise that I believe that genuine reconciliation can only come through Christ (reconciliation with God, and then with man), still, today marks an important milestone in our nation's history, and for that we can be thankful.  So let's note today's huge progress, and pray for the ultimate reconciliation to take place in the hearts of our people.

Second, I have some considerations for all my Christian friends.  Since Obama's election, I have heard some of the crudest and nastiest remarks from some of my friends who claim the name of Christ.  It deeply saddens me to know that while a nonbelieving world is watching, some have considered it more important to disrespect an elected official than to represent Christ well.  Some of the statements are so bad that I could not reproduce them here.

So let me take this opportunity to remind all my peeps, my Christian brothers and sisters, what the King (Jesus) has to say in the Scriptures about how we should treat our governmental leaders, regardless of whether you like them or not.

1. Pray for them.  Scripture cannot be clearer:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  1 Timothy 2.1-2 (NIV)

2. Honor them.  The general idea cannot be missed:

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.  1 Peter 2.16-17 (ESV)

3. Submit to them.  When the Bible talks about subjection and submission, it means, well, subjection and submission.  So unless the governing authorities tell us to do something that opposes the principles of Scripture, we are to submit:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  Romans 13.1-2 (ESV)

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  1 Peter 2.13-14 (NASB)

For the Lord's sake (according to the Apostle Peter), do what is right.  Pray for Obama, honor him as president, and submit to the authority granted him.  In so doing, you will be a blessing, and you will be blessed.