What Christians Should Expect From a President
I hesitate to add one more document to the pile of Christian responses to our present political climate. It is hard to believe anything I have to say hasn’t already been said. The following points, with which I agree wholeheartedly, have been established:
- The fulfillment of the mission of the church is not dependent on political circumstances.
- Political figures are flawed.
- Ultimately, we must obey God above all others.
- God is in control.
Yet, our situation is indeed unique. In our republic we have the right and the responsibility to influence our government through free elections and free speech. We cannot dismiss politics from faith, nor should we try. We must engage in the public discourse with reason and respect.
I could say much on the subject of “how” we go about these discussions, but I want to stay focused on what we might expect of our President in the process.
First, in regards to his personality or behavior, we should not expect him to go through a conversion experience upon his inauguration. To expect otherwise would be like marrying someone we don’t believe we can live with in hopes of changing him, or her. This doesn’t mean a President can’t change while in office (for better or worse), but the most likely scenario is that he is going to be the same person he was when he was elected.
Secondly, in regards to his leadership, we can expect our President to act out of a sincere love for our country. This love includes faithfulness to our Constitution and respect for our symbols of liberty, as well as an affection for the individual lives that make up our citizenry. While our President is not a spiritual leader (although he might be spiritual), he is sometimes called upon to guide our nation in ways similar to biblical priests who addressed the pain of a hurting nation. At times, he must provide comfort, confidence and counsel. Perhaps you remember these words from a poem in Ronald Reagan’s speech following the Challenger disaster: “They slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”
Third, we can expect him to care for our welfare. When our security is threatened, we need to know our President is aware of the situation and is in control. He needs to look, not only to present national security challenges, but down the road to emerging trends and risks. Our welfare requires that we have good government (as opposed to one that is oppressive and corrupt), appropriate oversight of national systems, well maintained infrastructures and the means to respond to emergencies.
I realize there are a lot of “yea, buts” that could be inserted in my thoughts here. Our particular political leanings will have a tremendous impact on how we rate our President’s performance in these and others areas of his office.
The main point I wish to make is that, as believers, we need to be more realistic when it comes to our expectations of political leaders and more proactive when it comes to the impact we are having on our culture. Here are some quick thoughts along these lines:
- Younger people in our culture are highly engaged in the social and political issues at hand. Take time to talk with them about their thoughts and feelings. Quit blasting them on Facebook and invite them to dinner.
- Since political leaders are capable of growing in their personal lives, if there is something you don’t like about our current leaders pray for God to move in their lives and hearts.
- Look for voids to fill with God’s grace. If you believe our current political climate has damaged our collective national soul, begin to fill it in new ways by stepping up your concern for your neighbors and co-workers.
- Have you let political differences drive a wedge between you and other brothers and sisters in Christ? Remember, this goes against everything the Bible teaches us about the church. If we can’t think of anything other than politics that binds us together as believers, then we need a spiritual makeover.
- Time and energy are limited. Once our lives are spent we can’t reclaim them. Do you really want to look back on your life and say, “I spent most of it yelling at the TV?” What if we were able to say, “When I heard that I knew God was calling me to: (Insert your conviction)”.
Don’t get me wrong. I am passionate about my country and the events in American politics that impact my life. This is why I don’t believe followers of Jesus can just say “God is in control” and disengage from the conversation (although God is certainly in control).
It’s just that there are bigger conversations.
Like the one we are going to have when we meet Jesus and He asks us how we used our lives.