My best friend on this earth (at least that's how I view him) emailed me this afternoon, and asked the following questions:
Are you concerned about the potential lack of Christianity in the White House? What role do you think Christianity plays? How should a Christian vote?
Here was my (lengthy) answer to him:
First of all,
We are electing a president, not a pastor or a pope.
Now, I truly would like to see a committed and CAPABLE Christian in the top two spots in our government. "Committed" and "Capable"....those are the two "qualities"...but I can always hope....
I think George W Bush is a wonderfully committed Christian---but I have questioned most of his "capabilities" from his days as Governor of Texas (I lived there through two of those years). Characterwise (other than an occasional foul word), I have no problems with him. He made two good Supreme Court appointments (after abandoning one that he should have never made in the first place, and subsequently abandoned).
Former Secretary of State Powell (also a retired Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) stated my positions about as clearly as anyone ever has...on Meet The Press. HOWEVER, I will not be voting for the Obama/Biden ticket. Our foreign policy and military policy cannot, in my opinion, withstand another "training wheels" President--like the one who is moving back to Crawford, Texas in January 2009.
I love what Pastor Jack Hayford said several years ago--almost 20 years ago now, that just because one is a Christian doesn't mean they will be a good leader...but he desires that every good leader be a Christian.....That's the real paradox for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that "Christianity" plays as important a place in our national life as we on the "local level" want it to play. Example: My father professed saving faith in Christ in November 1974 at a Billy Graham Crusade in Birmingham. He was contented in following Jesus until it cost him $$$, and he knew that if he continued following the Lord, that he would have to become an honest businessman, and make alot of things right. He chose MAMMON over God. He's dying with colon cancer now (I found out a few weeks ago).
If we insist on "Christian principles" in our society, then we must be willing to abide by them--even when we stand to "lose" something due to those same Christian principles: including our own lives. A lot of the people that I have encountered want "Christian principles" until it actually costs them something: time, treasure, talent. Then, they tend to think again about what they are asking.
Our own greed: power, position, possessions, has been our undoing. I've been guilty a few times, myself. We want "power" in the "powerful places"....but we often abuse it when we get it. And we often "neglect" those who have no power, and can't use their own influence. I think of the elderly, the disabled veterans, and the unborn....but just like Mike Huckabee said so many times, "Life begins at conception, but it does not end at birth." We must value all of life...not just the ones that we find "socially acceptable."
Position: I'm reminded of the story that Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke about the "rich, young ruler"....and Jesus made sure that he identified him as a "ruler"...or in the "ruling class" of contemporary society of that time. Far too many people (Christians included) are worried about "position."....and they become addicted to the "narcotic of being noticed" . Whatever happened to "service over self" and "doing the right thing because it is the right thing" regardless of what one stands to gain or lose? If I die doing the "right thing" then I really haven't lost...and my reward isn't here anyway.
Jesus said it well, "Whomever wants to be the greatest among you must first be your servant." We've forgotten what it means to "serve" in this nation---on so many levels. Maybe the "Christ-followers" need to show the way in what it means to truly serve. After all, if WE can't "show the way" then who can?
Possessions: I could write entire volumes on this subject. I have too much stuff. We all do. But the real question becomes "does our stuff possess us?" Our corporate greed only reflects our national and personal greed. I continually hear people, in my own congregation, talking about "helping the poor"---until someone actually challenges them to do it. I struggle with this one also.
I am approached at least twice a day asking for "change" of some kind or another from someone on the street, near the train stop, etc. Every time, I wonder "what if that were ME?" But I also remember the times when I've given the person asking for "change" (usually for food) some food, and watched them throw it away as soon as I turned my head. It's a real paradox...and it's something with which I continually struggle. Just how much of my possessions have I really given to God, so HE can use them however best pleases Him? And I have no good answers for that most serious question.
How should a Christian vote? Million dollar question....and I'm not sure that I have a definitive answer.