Eight years ago, I stayed up all night because I wanted to know who would be the next President of the United States of America. Tonight I am staying up for entirely different reasons.
Tomorrow, a new day will bring about a new discussion in American political life. History was made with the election of the first African American to be President of the United States–Senator Barak Obama. I encourage you to read the exhortation offered by Justin Taylor that, as Christians, we are called upon to pray, support, and honor our leaders, especially our president, even if we have strong differences.
It is true that change is coming. I don’t think any of us can accurately predict what that change will look like, but we can take a hard look at ourselves in America and consider what needs to change about us. I have lived almost my entire life under what has been called “the moral majority” and “the religious right.” Many of the men who led the charge have recently passed away, including Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy (among others). Today, it seems that the remaining political voice of this generation is a Christian psychologist–Dr. James Dobson.
I believe we as Christians in America are at a crossroads with this election. On the one hand, there will be the renewed commitment to recruit more culture warriors to fight the fundamentalist battles of old. No doubt, their concerns are warranted. Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to be voted President of the United States. He has also advocated a pro-socialist redistribution of wealth. The judicial system is vulnerable to liberal activism where the issues of sanctity of life, marriage, family, and the freedom of worship will certainly be challenged in the next four years.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the Obama presidency will help Christians who happen to be American to open our eyes to our syncretistic views of American Christianity. While the fundamentalist impulse is to retreat into the ghetto, pull out the dispensationalism charts, and check the rapture ready index as a morning devotional, perhaps for the first time Christians will no longer seek to Christianize America but speak prophetically and live missionally in our growingly secular world. Our greatest need is not to fight the battle against the culture but to fight against the battle of unbelief. It is safe to live as functional atheists when we’ve got God in our constitution, on our coins, in the White House, but when the props are removed from us, how shall we then live?
We must learn to live as missionary citizens.
The context of American culture is drastically changing, no doubt. We do need culture warriors–indeed, all of us need to actively stand for the values and virtues derived from our biblical worldview. But I am convinced more than that, we need a Christianity with a gospel that is sufficient, a mission that is dominant, and a Savior who is triumphant. Now is not the time to wallow in the cry, “Woe is America!” Now is the time to plead with God, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Now is the time for a missionary, not a psychologist, to lead the cause of evangelicals in the 21st century American culture. We are not here to tell people, “Yes you can!” but “No you can’t, but Jesus can.” Now is the time to take the call to be missionaries in our own world as serious as other Christians are in their equally pagan and anti-Christian culture. It is time for the Bibles on our shelves to be the dictum of our day. It is time we recognize once and for all that Jesus has never been draped in stars and stripes but died naked with only the blood of His brow and the spit of the soldiers for His covering. His kingdom is not of this world.
The news and media will continue to cycle punditry and commentary about the political implications of an Obama presidency. I can’t help but think about the personal implications as one who is not a Republican or Democrat, but a citizen of two worlds and a committed follower of one Lord–Jesus Christ. I encourage you to do the same. Let us not weary ourselves about the battles we face without and ignore the greater ones within. The church will march on. Christ will continue to save. His mission will prevail. His glory is our gain. Let us not waste this election wondering what we have lost as Christians in America. Let us look to Christ and His gospel and see what we have found.
Then, my friend, we will have change the we can believe in.
Then we will be the change.