As a nation we voted for President Obama, and with that bought the package he brought with him. Most Americas hope he succeeds; this does not mean all of us assume everything he does or says is history's final answer. I pose this caveat because I want to quote something the President said which struck me as very telling as to the state of the Christian church and its witness to a hurting country.
I happened to catch the end of his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5th. If you want to play it back there are several sites on the Internet where it is currently available. Overall it is an eloquent speech in which he said, in part:
"I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I've ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.
"I didn't become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck - no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God's spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose -- His purpose."
Just by coincidence I happen the same day to come upon the "witness" of Mahatma Gandhi. Contrast President Obama's experience to what Gandhi is quoted as saying, "I would accept your Christ if it were not for you Christians."
No matter what happens from now on in or to our country, from the President's own words we can believe the world was changed by the witness of people just doing what their faith demanded. One wonders, what would be the influence on some future American President from Christians working for their Lord in any given church of Clay County Indiana? All human contact has consequences, and America's future could certainly be changed by such an encounter; but in what direction? If our church, or yours, encountered such a person on their way to some future White House sojourn, would their subsequent testimony be that of Obama or Gandhi?
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.