Friday, November 16, 2012

Reflections on the Reelection of President Obama

There we sat in the comedor (cafeteria) of the Shalom Children's Home in Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador on November 6th. We were huddled around the dinner table around 10:30pm after a long day serving the orphans, eagerly waiting to check our smart phones on a hit-or-miss WIFI connection.  The agony of waiting for the results of the election was both thrilling and excruciating (mostly because I would not allow the mission team to check the news sites until AFTER our corporate worship and Bible study).

And then came the result: Obama Wins Reelection.

I don't think any of us will soon forget that night. Walking back to our dorm rooms on the orphanage campus, some of the team members were visibly frustrated. Some had hoped that this might be the beginning of a change of trajectory for our nation. Apparently, that moment has not yet come.

But now, ten days away from Obama's reelection, I have had time to process the result and distill my feelings into a few bullet points. Here are a few random thoughts in bullet-point format.

1). God remains sovereign over the whole course of human affairs. Scripture says, "Kingship belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:28). It also reminds us that God "works all things according to the council of His will" (Eph 1:1), and that "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). 

No, Obama's reelection does not mean the end of God's reign, nor the cession of Christ's Kingdom on earth. The Kingdom of God and the United States of America are NOT one and the same.

Our confession states as much about the sovereignty of God over all things (including presidential elections): "God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established" (WCF 3.1).

We may not like it: but God has ordained that this particular world leader have a second term. Note: this does NOT mean God approves of Obama's rule or policies. It only means that God has deemed it necessary to fulfill His plan.

2).  It does seem evident, now, that our children will grow up in a very different moral climate than their parents. Our children will grow up in a world very different from the one in which we grew up.

  • Our children will be raised during a time when heterosexual marriage will be increasingly seen as irrelevant, puritanical, and outmoded. 
  • Sexual mores will be increasingly skewed and distorted such as that no boundary lines will be visible at all (at least in the public square). 
  • Even work and labor, a duty given to Adam before the fall into sin, will be increasingly viewed as optional as undesirable. 
  • Public education will likely slide further and further left, as tax dollars are spent by the millions to shape children's worldviews. 
  • The church will be increasingly shoved to the sidelines of public life.
All of this will demand greater diligence on our part as Bible-believing Christians to catechize our children and bring them up under the instruction of the Lord. 

3). Christianity often waxes strong where it exists as a persecuted minority, and wanes shallow when it enjoys a majority. This is counter-intuitive. For instance, while the Church was arguably strongest during first and second century times of oppression, church historians have often identified a correlation between the weakening of the Christian church in the fourth century and the ascension of the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine.

The marginalization of the Christian Church today may actually result in a more vivacious, nimble, athletic, and serious brand of evangelicals. Like the "underground church" in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's day, being driven out of sight may actually strengthen the resolve of the committed believers to refuse to be co-opted by the secular state.

This is good news, if we have eyes to see it. In this coming century, the smaller confessional Church will likely have more in common with the Early Church, the Reformers, and the Puritans than the shallow evangelicalism of the late twentieth century that produced such things as televangelists, mega-churches, the seeker-sensitive movement, and Joel Osteen.

4). Viewing Obama's reelection as a "sure sign of the apocalypse" is myopic and lame. Yes, I have heard that Obama's reelection is a sure sign of the end times on more than a few occasions in the last ten days. But that seems to suggest that the United States of America is the central pin on God's eschatological map. I don't think it is.

It also seems to smack of our inextricable self-centeredness to suggest that this must surely be the end of all history because our sitting President is leading from a secular worldview. Many of our Christian brothers around the world have suffered tremendously under the brutal regimes of far worse and evil men: Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Nero, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Kim Jong Il just to name a few. 

Let's be sure not to add our names to the ever-growing list of fools who predicted the end of the world based on current events they read in the newspapers. Jesus warned us not make such predictions at all (Matt 24:36).

This point came across to me strongly on the Wednesday after the election. We went out in a pickup truck to feed the poor of a tiny village called Oasis. The community centered around one central running water connection that supplied hundreds. An octopus of hose connections ran water to some (but not all) of the dirt-floor homes. There were no working toilets to be seen. Most came filthy and dirty--yet joyful--to eat a meal consisting of rice and beans.

As I watched a people stricken by a poverty that I have never personally experienced myself, God struck me with a profound thought: Only an American would believe the whole world is ending because the stock market is down and the tax code is up. 

We press on. 

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Wise words! Thank you.