In my last post I tried to address some of the things that you might not think about at first consideration of the prospect of a McCain victory. Of course, it goes unstated that a McCain victory would be far and away the better of the two choices. Among things that I didn't mention, a McCain election would not mean that the campaign to save the lives of teeming masses of innocent children every day wouldn't be set back a couple of decades. That, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission. And then there's the specter of facing the hostility of a President who regards our faith as something to which desperate people stubbornly and foolishly cling. But, a shocking come-from-behind McCain victory would also prompt (I predict) the reactions delineated in my last post.
Now, on the other hand, although I would go to great lengths if I thought that I could prevent Obama's election (and I'll do what I can in a polling place on Tuesday morning!), I think there are a few things that we believers ought to remind ourselves when we face a more hostile environment to people of faith on Wednesday morning:
FIrst and foremost, I think we have to acknowledge something of the hand of God in the events that have swept Obama into the White House. I mean, who foresaw this economic cataclysm coming at just the right timing to have maximum impact upon the election? And which political party could have made it happen on cue if they had wanted to do so? Nobody.
I know…I know…God didn't make people take out crazy subprime interest-only ARMs. We got ourselves into this mess. But I'm talking about the precise timing and ferocity of the meltdown. McCain was surging on a Palin-induced rally and this economic mess came just in time to nip that in the bud. It happened long after Republicans had the opportunity to pick a more economically savvy candidate, and long after John McCain had any opportunity to get his bearings and sort out his talking points. Yet it happened long enough before early voting for the bleak reality to sink deeply into the consciousness of so many American voters.
If something like that had emerged to catapult McCain to victory, we would have declared it—without much hesitation—to be the hand of God. Well, why must it be something else if it puts Obama into office?
Because Obama is a bad and godless liberal? Remember, this is the same God who brought bad and godless Assyria down upon Israel. He brought Nebuchadnezzar upon Judah and the Bible explicitly says that God gave into Nebuchadnezzar's hands the sacred vessels of the temple to put into the treasury of a pagan idol (Daniel 1:2). I don't believe that Barack Obama is a whit closer to God than Nebuchadnezzar was, but I recommend that we all be VERY careful about thinking that we know what God would do or what God wouldn't do.
The United States of America may very well deserve precisely Barack Hussein Obama. This may be the election where God lets us have just that.
And if the result is socialism (and the inevitably ensuing collapse of our economy and poverty for everyone), then socialism will not defeat the church. Just ask my friends in Cub@. And even in that, we can give thanks. For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom, and a little poverty just might facilitate a lot of revival.
If the result is persecution of the church and (a generation or so down the road) the imprisonment of those who will preach the whole Bible, then we can rejoice. For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and just such a thing might do us more good than any jingoistic convention program could ever do in bringing back purity and vitality to the church (and we won't even have to design a logo for it).
So, God might have lots of good reasons to hand this election to Obama. I would still be sinning to vote for him, but God can simultaneously expect me to vote for McCain and plan for an Obama victory.
I will pray for Barack Obama and will show him respect as my President. I reserve the right to disagree with him, and I'm sure that I will exercise that right on many occasions, but I will not treat Obama that way that so many people have treated President Bush. A great many liberal church members (indeed, liberal churches!) have flagrantly sinned in their language and attitudes toward President Bush. They reveal, methinks, that they have a higher regard for "Never trust anyone over 30" than for "Honor the King" (1 Peter 2:17).
Let not the same be said of us. Let us argue the issues, but if he wins, let us show President Obama biblical respect. Let us remember that, in the face of wrongful laws and oppressive treatment, Daniel and his compatriots always showed deferential respect to Nebuchadnezzar.
Barack Obama may not turn out to be as bad of a president as I think he will be. The events that define a presidency often happen during the presidency itself. Think for a moment how much the events of September 11 have defined the presidency of George W. Bush. When I voted for him in 2000, I had no idea that those 2001 attacks were coming. Neither did you. Neither did HE. To some degree, every President-Elect is a pig in a poke. Some of them just smell a lot worse.
So, God is able to shape the events that will shape Barack Obama. Don't forget, "The King's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1). Perhaps we pastors ought to practice a corollary to a principle that we've prescribed for so long: If we want a better president, we should pray for the one that we get. And we should perform those prayers knowing that God is quite powerful enough either to harden Obama's heart around his wrongful ways (Exodus 9:12) or to bring him around to an entirely new way of thinking (Acts 16:22-40).
God is able to bring good things out of an Obama administration—with Obama's help or in spite of his resistance. But even if He does not, let us be faithful and obedient, remembering that, as it pertains to our true citizenship, the administration of our kingdom does not hang in the balance on Tuesday.