I was having lunch with a friend the other and he was telling me about a meeting he attended with some others pastors. Apparently there was a discussion about the book of the month, and this time the topic was evangelism. One of the leaders of the conversation noted that a key issue in sharing our faith is the fact that Christians don’t associate enough with lost people. Then the leader said something like this, “Christians don’t know enough lost people or spend time with them. For example, when is the last time you had a meal with someone who voted for Barack Obama?”
I’m not so much advocating a particular candidate or political party as much as I am drawing attention to the implication that lost people and those voting for Obama are the same thing. By inference, I wonder whether this person thinks that everyone who voted for John McCain were Christians.
It’s an interesting dance when politics and God are partners. Just take a look at what happened at the Democratic National Convention when the word “God” was removed from the platform. Robert Parham has a critique on what transpired when the language was re-inserted. I agree with Parham that this act has more to do with politics than anything else. However, I also think that having the word “God” in a political document doesn’t necessarily equate with actions or policies that are in concert with Scripture at every turn.
It’s going to be a lively and interesting few months as our nation prepares to elect another president. Pastors across our land will be dealing with folks who have divergent perspectives on how this country is to be run, what needs to be done, and how best to make it happen. Well, I know this to be true in my case, but there are churches out there who equate church membership with a particular political membership. What I have heard and will anticipate being said again are things like “you can’t vote for __________ and be a Christian.”
Whether or not the word “God” has been (re-) inserted into a political document might be worth discussion, but perhaps we ought to giving additional attention as to whether God is already present in the lives of his people and how He views our actions. I am concerned about folks who exclude God from their own individual life story, not knowing what it means to know God through faith in Christ.
I’m leading our church through a study on Wednesdays, using the book “The Good and Beautiful Life,” by James Bryan Smith. He recalls a story about a lieutenant going through a training exercise at Fort Bragg, and he checks his map to see where he is supposed to be. A sergeant approaches and asks, “you figure out where we are, lieutenant?” To which he replies: “Well, the map says there should be a hill over there, but I don’t see it.” The sergeant replies, “Sir, if the map don’t agree with the ground, then the map is wrong” (29).
We’re going to hear enough over the next two months about who is right, and who is wrong. There’s going to be biblical quotations and references to God. The greater issue is that there are so many people living by the wrong map each and every day, and it doesn’t square with the realities that are facing them. The challenge for the church is to make sure that we live out the narrative of Christ and encourage others to insert that Story into their own lives.
It could be a tough few months, but on the other side there is for some the more signficant religious activity of college football taking place. I’m still waiting to hear “you can’t cheer for _____________ and be a Christian.”
I’ll keep you posted.