President-elect Barack Obama has called this time in our history: "The greatest economic challenge in our lifetime." I think he is profoundly right. We may not have a crash like 1929 or a "Great Depression" but there is now little doubt that this time may become like none we have known since that time. I could be wrong but it appears that we are in for a rough ride in 2009 and beyond.
Obama faces war, recession, and an ambitious list of campaign promises like tax cuts and expanded health care. He also faces a serious energy crisis. In the debates he spoke about tackling many problems all at once. It appears that he will be forced to do exactly this come January. Right now he is putting together his team. We should pray for this process since it is one of the most important that he will undertake. I cannot imagine how anyone can manage this task. It strikes me as so daunting that I do not wish it to anyone.
Barack Obama is clearly a very intelligent man. Indeed, he may be one of the brightest men to enter the White House in a very long time. Bill Clinton was an extremely bright man too but he was also a man without self-discipline and personal control. Obama seems to be quite unlike Clinton in almost every way. He possesses high marks for character and ability. What he will need is wisdom. We are told that he is presently reading and studying to prepare for the job. His aides describe him as a man who is keenly aware of his own strengths and weaknesses. That gives me great hope about him. He is also said to be eager to soak up expertise from others. He asks questions and listens well. He will need all of these traits to succeed. What he needs even more is our prayer.
The apostle Paul urged early Christians to offer "petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I urge you to follow this counsel. Will you pray for Barack Obama? How will you give thanks to God for him? Will you pray for wisdom and success for him or for failure and shame? Will you pray that all who love Christ support him so that we may all "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" or will you express constant partisan anger and condemnations of the new president?
I oppose Obama's position on abortion but the angry response of Christians toward him on this point is not warranted. The very rulers that Paul wrote about were not only pro-choice but they were prepared to kill Christians and some acted accordingly. They were complete pagans. Barack Obama is a Christian, like him or not. Your disagreement with him does not warrant the rhetorical expressions of hatred and vilification that seems constant these days from the Christian right. Such speech is ungodly and cannot promote true holiness.
Thursday I was listening to a Christian news report on the Moody Radio Network as I was driving to a meeting. I heard the president of Concerned Women of America speak about the next president. I was so disturbed by her comments that I quickly changed the station and prayed for her and the millions like her who are determined to oppose Barack Obama before he is even allowed to live one day as our 44th president. One thing that plainly drives this type of response is the practical denial of divine sovereignty. Another is the anger felt by many about the abortion issue. We seem to think that this issue alone warrants our hostility toward Obama. Since 1973 I have yet to see how this type of angry confrontation regarding abortion has really accomplished anything truly good.
It is time for Christians to major on the kingdom of Christ, not on angry denunciations of our leaders. It is time that we gave people the opportunity to hear the "good news" from our lives and churches. Our moral outrage is wrongly expressed and the cause of Christ suffers accordingly. Missional Christians need to rethink all of this in the next four years. A major initiative is needed whereby we learn to focus upon Jesus, not upon those we dislike in leadership.