Christians and the Obama Administration

America has a new President-elect—one to whom most evangelicals (myself included) were opposed during the election due to his stance on abortion. So what?

* So we rejoice and rest in God’s sovereignty (Dan 2; 4:34-35; Psalm 75:5-7; Prov 21:1).

* So we start praying for our new leaders (1 Tim 2:1-4).

* So we put to rest the hysteria that I’ve heard from many Christians and pastors. Some have suggested that the future of the church and our ability to minister the gospel hung in the balance along with Oval Office during this election (and the ones in 2000 and 2004). Well, here’s a news flash: The gates of hell are no closer to prevailing against Christ’s church today than they were last week, last century, or during any political regime of the last 2000 years (Matt 16:18). The church will be fine. Mercy, it might be better off. The progress of the gospel has never depended on governmental leaders. It has thrived under Presidents, Kings, Emperors, and Dictators (2 Tim 2:9b). It will continue to do so.

* So we learn a hard lesson regarding the limitations of political activism. The church has never been more active in American politics than in the last 3 decades. Starting with the founding of the Moral Majority and continuing to the recent flexing of political muscle by the religious right, a lot of Christians’ time and energy has been invested in promoting a conservative political agenda. What do we have to show for it? Abortion continues. Pornography has moved from dicey parts of town to the family room. Television and movies are open sewers. The homosexual agenda is thriving. We’ve really accomplished none of the goals the leaders of the religious right set out to achieve. And frankly, even if we had succeeded at passing laws restricting abortion and gay marriage, I wonder (a) if those temporal victories would have survived this administration anyway, and (b) if our victories would have been any more successful than prohibition was? Sure, you can point to the abolition of the slave trade that Wilberforce heroically won as an example of using legislation for a moral purpose, but he did so primarily by convincing a God-fearing public that it was immoral. It remains unlawful to own slaves today because society at large recognizes the abhorrence of slavery. The same is true of neither homosexuality or abortion. But I digress. Meanwhile—and more tragically—as the American church has been striking out at politics, Christians have never been more worldly nor the church more impotent in spiritual matters.

* So we vote and exert influence on our legislators as our laws allow (thankfully), but remind ourselves that our ultimate goal must be saving sinners, not ending (or making more difficult) sins.

* So we remind ourselves that we are commanded by Christ to save Americans (and others), not America.

* So we remind ourselves that the cause of Christ cannot be advanced by the arm of the flesh (Jer 17:5). The weapons of our warfare must not be natural, but spiritual (2 Cor 10:4). The source of our confidence must not be the “chariots and horses” of politics (Prov 20:7).

* So we realize that trying to accomplish spiritual good by the means of political or military force is no more likely to succeed for us than it did for Constantine or the Crusaders (John 18:36).

* So we stop acting as though Christ had political activism in mind when he commanded us to be salt and light (Matt 5:13, 16). Seriously, nothing was ever further from Christ’s mind.

* So we renew our confidence in the gospel. We recognize that passing even good laws can’t stop sin, much less regenerate sinners. We remind ourselves that while political involvement is a fine thing with at least some biblical precedent and that politics is a grand career for many godly people (like Joseph, Daniel, Mordecai, or William Wilberforce), the cause to which every Christian and every church is called to devote money, energy and passion is world evangelization, not the end of public and unspeakably grievous sins. Our hope is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

* So we do some remedial studying to get our eyes back on the main thing. I suggest a few resources, for starters:

  • Read Blinded by Might, the reflections of Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, two early leaders in the Moral Majority, on why political activism is an insufficient strategy for the church.
  • Read Why the Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t, a book by Erwin Lutzer with a similar message, written from a more intentionally biblical and theological perspective.
  • Listen to the message “Politically Incorrect,” which Phil Johnson delivered at last year’s Shepherd’s Conference.
  • Consider some of the thoughts I expressed recently in the message “God and Government.”

* So we remind ourselves that we have a second citizenship, one in a country that is far better, (Heb 11:9-10, 13-16). We yearn and prepare for that country and long for the inauguration of our perfect King (Rev 11:15), as we should have been doing all along, regardless of who has been in the White House.

* So we “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). If Christians could (and were commanded by God to) do so under Roman emperors, we certainly can and must do so now. It might look something like this:

Mr. Obama, as an American citizen and a born again Christian, I congratulate you on an historic victory. I will be praying for you and submitting to any of the laws you sign that don’t require me to violate the Scriptures, which I fully expect to be most or all of them. I will strive to be an ideal citizen, and I sincerely hope you serve our nation well.

Now, Sir, if you’ll excuse me and my fellow Christians, we have an eternally important task to be about—one which many of us have forgotten about for a while.

Okay, Christian, stop sulking and go give someone the gospel.

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19 Responses

  1. Amen. I’m afraid there will be too many believers out shopping for “sour grapes” today. Glad to read this.

  2. Amen Chris–it’s no coincidence that we just finished studying Romans 13 in our Homebuilders Class. It’s the gospel, not our government, that needs to be our focus.

  3. […] to add: Chris Anderson shared some similar thoughts but expanded to many more good ones […]

  4. Amen, Chris – thank you for taking the time to rehearse for all of us what our life with Christ is to be all about. You have written words here that are encouragement for every day – with or without elections.

  5. […] I’d also like to share a link to an encouraging article I just read; Pastor Chris Anderson in Ohio outlines a biblical response I, as a Christian, ought to have […]

  6. If (like me) you regard the election of Obama as a direct judgment of God on a nation that richly deserves it (see Isaiah 4 for starters), it’s still a very sad day. Yes, God is in control, and this is His purpose. But I don’t think Jeremiah rejoiced when the Babylonians showed up to sack Jerusalem.

  7. Thank you for your post, Chris. I am thankful to call you my friend. I am weary of words of doom and gloom. I appreciate your call to right thinking, of rest and trust in the Almighty God, and the challenge to forget self and go forward for the eternal Kingdom of God.

  8. Excellent, well said and much needed!

  9. Thank you for your wonderfully scriptural perspective and its posting. Amen

  10. Thanks, Chris! What a great reminder that our God is in complete control. He did not panic at the outcome, nor is He dismayed at the thought of our future. He is interested in our obedience and in how we glorify Him in all we say and do, no matter who our president might be. Mr. Obama needs our prayer much more than our disdain.

  11. Chris, thank you for your thoughtful, on-target blog post. I’ve linked to it from my own post – http://blog.ivman.com/are-you-a-mazed

  12. Thank you Chris! I heard about your website thru Dr Loach. Mankind’s deepest need continues to be a renewed heart and mind and not a new political administraton.
    Thank you also for the call to pray for Obama. I think it is a great time to live this out in front of our children….not only to pray for a president we agree with but also one we disagree with.

  13. Thank you so much for this post, Chris. I have read a few that are similar to yours among the many that are not, and it is refreshing to read ones that focus on Christ, as we should in victory or defeat. Thank God He is still on the throne.

  14. Thank you for such a great reminder! Good to see you referred to on another blog, which directed me to this. I’m going to print this and bring it to the store I work at. It is a community hub in this tiny town, and there have been a lot of political discussions there in these last few weeks. Yesterday seemed like everyone there was at a funeral! (most who will read this are Christians.)
    Miss you all!

  15. I guess what is really sad is that Christians even need such a reminder. Shows us how worldly minded the body of Christ has become.

  16. Chris,
    It may be a telling sign for us Christians to seem to exhibit more hope and confidence in exerting political influence than in your second point — praying for our leaders. When George W. was elected, the Christians of this nation united strongly in expressing the desire to pray for him as he led the country–for strength of conviction in honoring God. With the election now of someone with whom we disagree on a vast number of moral (and other) issues, it would seem that our first thoughts ought to be for the same united commitment to petition him in whose hand sits the hearts of kings.

  17. I think you bring up several good points, but I think we need to not go to the other extreme, as some have recommended, and ignore politics and totally disengage. Many of us realize you can’t legislate morality. Martin Luther King knew this when he said, “It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.” I’m not saying you’re doing this, but I see many Christians lately saying we should sit back and completely ignore politics. There should be a happy medium.

  18. […] PS: I just read another excellent article on how Christians are to respond to an Obama presidency […]

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