A friend told me about a Chicago Tribune story, “Obama says draws from Christian faith to craft policy.”As I read it, I realized the challenge is not to realize we have leaders who appeal to God for wisdom and direction. The challenge is determining which nugget or road taken which they credit to the Almighty is actually compatible with Christianity.
The piece notes, “Obama … rarely goes to church and speaks far less about his religion than [former Presidents].” This constitutes, as reported by the Tribune, the President “…listen[ing] to God, avoid[ing] “phony religiosity,” and pursu[ing] “bold action” in the face of resistance or indifference.” Yet the Book advocates for “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” and “be[ing] ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”
I’m glad to hear that the President has a Christian faith. But the Tribune reports:
“When he emerged on the national stage, many Americans were uncertain about Obama’s religion and as many as one in five thought he was a Muslim. The president has previously said that although he did not grow up in a religious household, he became a Christian as an adult “by choice.”
On Thursday, he described a 2010 meeting with evangelical leader Billy Graham as transformative to his religious thinking, saying he had “prayed from the heart” at Graham’s North Carolina retreat and frequently thereafter.
“I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment – asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong,” he said.”
Surely it is revealing to know 20% of Americans at first believed him a Muslim while many more doubted he was a Christian. Obama himself labels as “transformative to his religious thinking” an experience from just 2010! I thought Jeremiah Wright and his church were the basis of his Christian faith. Now I find his thinking was “transformed” a mere year and a half ago?
That Barack Obama had an experience in 2010 that touched him deeply at a personal level is a good thing. I will pray for a full expansion and revelation of its import. But his experience is a departure point, not a destination. It was a step towards “adulthood” in the context of “When I was a child … I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
He is not even two years into what the Book calls transformation; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind …” That is not a year long process; it’s a lifetime process.
A good place to start is a study on biblical distinctions between the actions of an individual and the actions of a nation made up of individuals. Nations are not judged by what they do. They are judged by what the individuals who corporately comprise the nation do and what that says about the nation as a whole.
All individual behavior is voluntary, not compulsory. Righteous behavior forced out of me against my will means nothing. Forcing people to pay for the care of others is not the same as the man who visits the prisoner, feeds the hungry and clothes the naked because he freely chooses to. The Good Samaritan was good as much because he put his enemy up and paid for his medical care and daily needs out of his own pocket as he was because he helped his enemy at all.
As long as Barack Obama’s transformative event does not lead him to repudiate his Progressivism, while I may be happy to welcome him into the kingdom of God as a fellow believer, I am under no compunction, biblical or otherwise, to pronounce all his decisions sound and godly. In fact, just the opposite is true. It’s why the Apostle urged, when speaking of leaders in the faith that they not be a new convert. New converts haven’t been tested and tried near enough. He’ll need time and the grace available to us all.
That Barack Obama had a transformative event at all was news to me. I’ll be watching closely to see its effect. I’m cautiously optimistic. Still as the Book notes, in order to keep myself pure and avoid participating in the sins of another I’ll “Lay hands suddenly on no man…”