|A note I found today, in the men’s bathroom, at CCC.|
For part of former President Bill Clinton’s tenure as President, I lived in Arkansas. Besides being Clinton’s home, it’s also located in the Bible Belt. I was on staff at a missions organization, and a number of the people I worked with hated the President. Hated. I remember one conversation I was in where some people were disparaging President Clinton, and I tried to reflect his beliefs accurately. I mentioned how he prays, and the individual snapped back, “Prays?! Prays to the devil!”
Yep. They’ll know we are Christians by our love…unless they disagree with us on any number of political issues. Then, they’re on their own.
This is not about supporting one candidate/political party over another, but about how Christianity looks when it comes to politics.
I bring this up after seeing this note posted in the men’s bathroom, right above the urinal, at church this morning. Upon seeing it, I had a good idea that it wasn’t about praying for President Obama in the sense the Bible asks, like from 1 Timothy 2:1-3:
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
I took the note down. Granted, it’s not like some guy is going to be standing at the urinal, see that note, and then get his Bible out to read while standing at the urinal. Kind of creepy.*
*Perhaps not as creepy as the pastor (me) taking a cell phone picture of a urinal.
We have a church policy that there will be nothing posted by people unless it gets approval. When I first started attending, it was not uncommon to see all sorts of randomness being posted on the bathroom doors, over the urinals, and the backside of the stall doors. Usually it was some random event that someone was trying to promote. Sometimes, it was religious or political in nature. Whatever the note/flyer was, it usually was a design mess. It looked bad. We never had any idea what was being promoted on those sheets. Two of the reasons why we enacted the policy of taking things down that have been posted without consent.
So, I took it down for policy reasons, but also because I wanted to reflect well on CCC. I wanted to reflect well to visitors and guests. I wanted to reflect well on Jesus. Why? Psalm 109:8 says:
8 May his days be few; may another take his office!
Nothing like cherry picking verses and taking them out of context.*
*And being unoriginal. People were sending this verse to others about two seconds after Obama won the 2008 Presidential election. About the same time people were starting up a Facebook Group to support his impeachment…before he even took office.
Is it a joke on someone’s part? Is it meant to be serious? Is it someone trying mask their thoughts with a joke? Is it even worth my time to write a post about it?*
*Apparently it is.
Like I said, it’s not about supporting one candidate or political party over another. In my opinion, this kind of stuff gets in the way of what’s important. In recent years, I’ve talked with a number of people who don’t consider Christianity, or take it seriously, because of Evangelical Christian’s close ties to the Republican Party. I’d rather lose political battles than lose someone’s soul.
I think it is good to be educated on the issues. I think it is one’s civic duty to vote. I think it’s good to be informed. I don’t think it’s good when Christians focus more on politics than Jesus. Sure, a lot of Christians say they don’t, but their time and money say otherwise. They’ll spend hours a day consuming political talk radio and watching cable news where the hosts have a contempt for differing opinions. Some of the political commentators, for all their postulating, do not reflect Jesus at all, and yet they are shaping many minds in the church.
While I’m focusing in on Christians who let their Republican beliefs be the primary influence with their faith, this occurs on both sides of the political aisle. I’ve met a number of Christians who let their Democrat beliefs be the primary influence with their faith. We need to be letting Jesus guide and influence us. Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann should not have more say in our lives than Jesus.
Back to the verse in Psalm 109. Here’s context of what it says around verse 8.
6 Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
The author of Psalm 109? That would be King David. This is the same David who honored, loved, respected and served King Saul, even when King Saul was acting in defiance of God and trying to kill David. (1 Samuel 24, 26, 2 Samuel 1)
If people pray Psalm 109, with President Obama in mind, do they also want him to die? Do they want his family ruined?
If one thing is partially true, it is Psalm 109:12a. Many in the church have refused to extend kindness to President Obama. I know this from the forwarded emails and Facebook requests/invites I’ve received, from people in the church, about President Obama that are derogatory. I know this from the tweets and Facebook status updates, from people in the church, that show contempt and hate for their President.
Of course, the easy defense of whoever pushes this verse as “prayer for Obama” is to say, “I’m only kidding.” I might respond with Proverbs 26:18-19:
18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19 is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
It’s about Jesus. Christianity looks foolish, to people who aren’t Christians, when a number of its believers engage in this type of behavior. I get angry when we let secondary political issues get in the way of leading people to Jesus. I get frustrated when Christians, and the church, step back and look to government to fulfill the responsibilities that God has asked of Christians. I get frustrated when Christians spend more of their time and resources on politics than God.
Government is not your God and/or savior.
I think part of my frustration stems from being guilty of what I’m talking about. When I first started following Jesus, I thought being Christian was being Republican. Many of my leaders, at the time, espoused such thinking. So, I thought you had to toe the line when it came to Republican politics. Over the years, I’ve stopped the syncretic thinking of the two. I’ve tried to focus in on Jesus.
Some Republican issues are worthwhile, but they are worthwhile because Jesus says so. Just like there are issues that are near and dear to Democrats that Jesus also thinks are worthwhile.*
*For a primer on this, I’d recommend the message “Arguing About Politics” by Tim Keller. You can download the message, for free, from iTunes.
Whoever posted this note in the bathroom I may never know, but I know they are not alone in their thinking. Christ Community Church has been pushing 3200 with its Sunday attendance, so its bound to have a variety of viewpoints and opinions from those that attend.* However, there are people that have the same contempt toward President Obama as whoever posted this note.**
*In working with young families and young professionals, at Christ Community Church, I’m meeting a lot more registered Democrats. Bucks the stereotype some have of CCC being Republican.
**They may be shocked to know there were CCC staff that voted for Obama in 2008. Some staff “confided” in me, partly because they knew I wasn’t going to take them to task for it.
God is more powerful than any individual or government.
Pray for President Barack Obama and his family. If it goes well for him and his family, from a Christian standpoint, doesn’t that benefit everyone?
It’s all about Jesus. Make Jesus primary, and politics secondary.
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1-7)
Thanks for reading.