As we continue our discussion of style and substance in relationship to the Obama presidency, we need to realize that the sentiments and votes of the Christian community were split during the election. Many Christians voted for him and celebrated his election because of his winsome style and his call of what might best be described as kingdom virtues: hope, change, civility, new beginnings, and national unity. Others voted against him because they perceived that his substance – his policies – were being driven by an Atheistic-Materialistic paradigm and would thus be ruinous for the nation. I believe the former, while professing Christ, were not consciously voting from the framework of a Judeo-Christian worldview. The latter, many who profess Christ, may have been aware of his founding principles and thus concerned about the direction he would take the country and have reacted with hostility and lack of civility toward President Obama as a person.
How are we, who profess Christ, to respond?
Too often we who are Christians point the proverbial finger for our national problems away from ourselves and towards others. We say, “It is the Atheists, the Secularists, the Neo-pagan, the Animists who are causing these problems. They are the enemy!” However, when we look at God’s judgment in Scripture, it is usually against his people for not being his people, rather than a judgment against the world.
Christ’s body, the church, is the key to cultural and social transformation. But when the church is captivated by the culture she ceases to be prophetic, she ceases to be salt and light in the community. To say it simply, if the church is not discipling the nation, the nation will disciple the church. The reason our nations are in the shape they are in is because the church is not being the church.
It was Francis Schaeffer who, in a sermon titled The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way, exposed the real issue:
“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism . . . nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them” (Francis Schaeffer; A Christian View of Spirituality; pg. 43-44, emphasis mine).
Let’s stop pointing the finger at President Obama or any other ideology. It is time that we take a long hard look at ourselves.
Francis Schaeffer would speak of the need for the church to exhibit orthodoxy–orthodox theology and orthopraxy–orthodox practice, not one or the other. We need to both know the truth and practice the truth. Or to put it differently, just as Christ was the word made flesh, so the church is to incarnate the word of God in the midst of their own culture.
Have we been the conscience of the nation? Have we, in style and substance, represented Christ and his kingdom in our own communities?
-Darrow L. Miller
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