Inauguration Day is January 20th, 2009. The United States will welcome its 44th President after what has been a long, exhausting, and historic election. Just how warm a welcome will the new president receive? Most of the country is ready for a change. Regardless of the merit for the war from a humanitarian perspective, it has been a political nightmare for President Bush coupled with a series of economic decisions that has left political pundits in endless debate and even the conservative commentator Dick Morris has called Bush the “leftist” President we have ever had in office. So, for the most part, the country anxiously anticipates the coming of something new. But I want to address a group of people who are close to home. We have a grand opportunity in the upcoming weeks, months, and years to do something that could very well rattle the cages of the political world and radically advance the Gospel. I am talking to conservative evangelicals. And our grand opportunity is to support the new President.
A precedent has been has been set the past 8 years that we will do well to avoid. As mentioned above, President Bush has made more than a few controversial decisions. Perhaps some of those decisions were harmful to the country. Perhaps some were helpful. History will determine the effectiveness of Bush’s policies. But no President in recent history has endured more abuse from the country than President Bush. A good bit of it unfairly.
Dissent in our political world is, of course, healthy. I’m certainly not espousing a return to the Sedition Act of the Adam’s presidency nor do I believe differing opinions should be withheld in order to be “nice.” However, the manner in which our views are portrayed says a great deal about who we are as individuals, who we are as Americans, and ultimately, who are as representatives of Christ Jesus. The analysis of Bush, even by the Christian community, has been chronicled on the world wide web, primarily through blogging, in such blasphemous ways that any integrity and message of hope that should accompany even the most critical of opinions has been obliterated. Not all who disagree with Bush have been guilty of such acts, but it has been an overwhelming pattern the past few years.
The mandate is clear. Even the most cursory reading of Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2 yields a clear picture of the civic duty for all Christians; to pray for and support our government leaders. Not to always agree. Not to hold back an alternative view at times. But to hold ourselves with integrity and grace, to lift the family of Barack Obama and others up in prayer, and to genuinely root for him and our country. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, rightfully argues that our failure to present ourselves as mature disciples in Christ when approaching the political scene can do more harm than the very issues we are concerned about. He says, “it could well be that how we convey our concerns will have as much, if not more, impact on our ultimate success than the nature of the concerns themselves. We must be mindful of our Gospel witness. We can, and must, disagree without being disrespectful.”
As an American, we should just simply respect our President. As a Christian, it is mandatory. So let’s pay close attention to the new administration. Let’s be excited about a new era. Let’s raise our voices when we disagree. Let’s be examples of Christ throughout it all.