Archive | November, 2012
Growing in the Word podcast: 11-25-12

Growing in the Word podcast: 11-25-12

Morning service from Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, OK from November 25th, 2012.  “When Net Worth is Worthless.” James 5:1-6.

Growing in the Word podcast: 11-11-12

Growing in the Word podcast: 11-11-12

Morning service from Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, OK from November 11th, 2012.  Pastor Todd offers thoughts following the election centered around a Christian’s response.

Is Obama the Pathway to the Antichrist? How Christians Should Respond to the Election

Is Obama the Pathway to the Antichrist? How Christians Should Respond to the Election

There has been no small amount of backlash from conservatives regarding the outcome of Tuesday’s election.  The traffic on social media has been interesting to say the least.  As a pastor, I have been asked what the Christian response to the election should be and I have personally observed a wide range of responses from fellow Christians and pastors.  Some have been helpful, others, not so much.

Regrettably, one very unhelpful response came recently from Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX.  Jeffress told his congregation that President Obama and his policies are “paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”  Statements such as these do nothing to help engage an increasingly secular culture in our country that is more removed from a Christian worldview than ever before.  In addition, I believe Jeffress’ statement ignores biblical commands to honor and respect government leaders even when we disagree with them (more about that below).

I can understand the frustration, fear, and anger that many evangelical Christians have at the outcome of the election.  Tuesday night taught us a great deal about the change taking place in our nation.  Briefly, here are three things that I found most interesting in light of the election.

First, our nation has a divided and rapidly changing electorate that is becoming more ethnically and ideologically diverse.  Most pundits have declared Obama’s victory as a sound or definitive win, yet in the popular vote Obama is ahead at the moment by less than 3 million votes out of nearly 120 million cast.  Recent polls state that 20% of Americans now designate themselves as having no religious affiliation.  Exit polls on Tuesday revealed that 17% of voters said they never attend religious services of any kind.  These numbers are significant increases from just a few decades ago.  More adult Americans than ever before live in urban areas, are single, and/or have no children.  Incidentally, these demographic have a strong influence on voting patterns.

Second, the Republican party is in the midst of an identity crisis. Demographics are going to make the Electoral College a huge problem for Republicans in the future.  Al Mohler has framed the problem for the Republican succinctly- “Put simply, the Republican Party cannot win unless it becomes the party of aspiration for younger Americans and Hispanic Americans. Otherwise, it will soon become a retirement community for aging conservatives. The party’s position on immigration is disastrous, and it is at odds with the party’s own values.  No party can win if it is seen as heartless.  No party can win if it appeals only to white and older Americans. No party can win if it looks more like the way to the past than the way to the future. The Republican Party could not defeat a sitting President with a weak economy and catastrophic unemployment.”

Third, and to me this is the most significant issue that the election has revealed, is the sharp decline in morality in the U.S.  President Obama is a strongly pro-abortion president who openly affirmed gay marriage this summer in the Democratic National Convention.  Yet, to the surprise of many- myself included, these positions appear to have hurt him in no way in this election.  Tuesday, after 33 states approved bans on gay marriage in the last few election cycles, three states voted to legalize gay marriage and one defeated an amendment that would ban it.  One state voted to legalize marijuana and other states voted on a number of moral issues including assisted suicide.  Tammy Baldwin, who won the election in Minnesota for U.S. Senator, will be the first openly gay senator in the Senate.  All of these signal a major shift in the moral climate of our nation.  The thing about a representative government is that it is representative of the people- and this election told us a great deal about the people of our nation. Mohler notes, “Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues.”

So, how should a Christian to respond to what the election has revealed?  I think it best to consider a biblical response in at least two ways:

One, as Christians we are told to honor, respect, and pray for our government leaders.  Paul instructed the young pastor Timothy to pray for those placed in authority over him- “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  Paul himself modeled respect for government leaders when he was on trial before Felix in Acts 23-24.  I just finished teaching my seminary students on Monday that the title Luke gave Theophilus, to whom the Gospel of Luke and Acts were addressed, was “most excellent.”  This title showed respect and honor to the office of the leader.  Paul used this same title when he addressed the Roman procurator Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:2), even though he was working his way through the Roman legal appeal process and no doubt differed with Felix on worldview.  Felix was known for cruelty, licentiousness, and taking bribes, yet Paul addressed him with respect.

Christians need to do the same in regard to President Obama.  There is much we disagree with regarding his ideologies, yet we should follow what we are told and modeled to do in Scripture in regard to responding to our leaders.  This doesn’t mean we cannot oppose the president with courage and passion, but we must understand that inflammatory comments such as linking him to the Antichrist do nothing to be winsome for Christ to a secular world.

Two, the moral decline and growing secularism in our nation should serve as a massive wake up call to the church.  I can’t stop thinking about how the church today looks more and more like the seven churches in the book of Revelation (Rev. 2-3).  Recall that for most of these churches Jesus had some good things to say, but he had some condemnations as well.  In general, the complaint Jesus had against these churches was the toleration of false teaching and worldliness evidenced in a passion-less following of Christ.  Should it surprise us that our nation is on the moral path it is when our churches look so much like the world?  When we have countless thousands following humanistic, health and wealth pastors who have so watered down and abrogated the gospel and biblical truth that it is barely recognizable?  Add to this Christians who no longer live in self denial to their greed and lusts and it’s little wonder the church is losing its influence.

The result of the election is a wake up call for Christians to once again live with passion for Christ in obedience to his word.  This begins with me and you!  We need repentance and action.  We need to have a deep love and concern for our world and think through how we can engage it with winsome strategies for Christ that do not compromise the gospel.  Again, this starts with you praying for and talking to your neighbor, co-worker, and friend.  It starts with carefully thinking through what you post on social media.  We must commit to living surrender lives to Jesus as Lord and to reaching out to our world.  Sadly, even though our world is getting darker and more challenging many Christians want to argue with each other about tertiary issues such as Calvinism, etc.

We must go and be salt and light to our nation and world.  I have sensed a great deal of sadness and gloom from so many after Tuesday.  But instead, let’s rise to the challenge knowing we have the power and presence of Jesus himself on our side.  One pastor astutely noted, “The election is behind us, the Great Commission is before us, the Holy Spirit is still in us, and Jesus is coming for us. That’s Hope.”