It's been over a week since the historic election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States. As his inauguration nears, there is great anticipation of what strategies he will employ to make good on his campaign promise to bring about "Change you can believe in!" I am rooting for our new President-elect and I am extremely hopeful that he can initiate some desperately needed changes: I hope he helps to change the extremely partisan way politics is carried out in Washington. I hope he will change the way Presidents govern - rather than trying to ensure he has another term, I hope he will "go for broke" and lead from conviction and what he believes to be right, even if it would cost him the assurance of a second term. I hope that he can bring about the kind of change that can unite the country to truly be "One nation under God" and to heal some of the rifts that have divided us into a "red or blue" collection of electorates who can never seem to get along. Change in these areas would be oh so nice. BUT, it's not the kind of change one can count on to last from generation to generation.
Though I'd love to see the aforementioned change come about, as a Christian, my faith and my hope ultimately lie in the unshakable Rock of Jesus Christ. Over the last 2 decades, U.S. Christians have often appeared much more zealous about political banners than the "Royal Banner" of being a follower of Jesus. This tendency has yielded unsatisfying results that often divided Christians against each other politically and sometimes distracted Christians from investing the balance of their time in pursuits that more directly contributed to the building of the Kingdom of God. It seems that we too frequently forget that when pressed for political answers by Pilate, Jesus responded, "My Kingdom is not of this world." It therefore seems that it would make sense for us as Christians to spend the majority of our energies not counting on political saviors to rescue us, but rather to exert ourselves fully to tasks of sharing the good news and doing good work in the world so that people might see what we do and give glory to our Heavenly Father.
One conservative pundit who has heretofore heavily focused his energies to conservative political solutions to people's problems summarized what has convicted him to alter the way he thinks regarding bringing about change in this way:
[Christians]…have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture…Partisan politics have not achieved the objectives of evangelical Christians…If results are what conservative evangelicals want,they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus of Nazareth. Suppose millions of conservative evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to ‘love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans’…as a means of demonstrating God’s love for the whole person in order that people might seek Him…Evangelicals are at a junction. They can take the path that will lead them to more futility and ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the One they claim to follow.”
I believe his observations are relevant to Christians across the political spectrum. Scripture is clear - true change comes from within as individuals are convicted by truth, confronted with the need to change the way they live by that truth, and transformed by having their minds renewed through a personal relationship with the Lord. The apostle Paul explains it like this:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Changed hearts and renewed minds are the goal of Christian living and service. This goal precludes us from waiting for or even expecting any individual political leader from doing for us what God had called for us to do ourselves. So whether or not you found joy in the results of last week's election, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ your orders remain the same:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.That's the kind of change I have seen occur time and time again and the type of change I can not only believe in, but devote my life to!
Until next time,