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President-Elect Obama

I didn't vote for him. But he is our new president. Given the angst so many Christians feel about an Obama presidency, it may be a good idea to take a step back and consider the following . . .

First, this is not the end of the world. It is not even the end of the Republic. Yes, the city of man has lurched hard-left. That happens once in a while. And then over time it drifts back to the center, and then lurches right again. This is what the city of man does. The reality is that the city of man is not any more amenable to Christianity when the lurch is toward the right than it is when it is lurching left. That is the nature of the city of man.

I am old enough to remember a fair bit of this lurching: Kennedy (center-left), Johnson (left), Nixon (right-center), Ford (center-right) Carter (left), Reagan (right), Bush 41 (center-right), Clinton (center-left), Bush 43 (right-center), and now Obama (left? left-center?).  Life goes on folks.

Second, since we are simultaneously citizens of two kingdoms (the kingdom of God and the city of man) I certainly hope we find it within ourselves to sincerely wish our new president well, and fervently pray for God's blessing upon him and his new administration (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Our nation is facing a severe economic crisis. We are deeply divided along political and racial lines. There is great resentment about the war in Iraq, and great uncertainty about what to do about Iran and Israel. Our new president faces a daunting task in leading a divided nation in a very uncertain time. He truly needs our prayers. The American presidency is one huge job.

Third, if Obama isn't up to the job, then all of us will suffer. If he is everything that his most ardent supporters claim that he is, he still faces a task which can overwhelm the even greatest of men.  So, let us hope and pray that Obama will capably fulfill his office and lead our nation forward through this tough time. There is too much at stake here for the partisans among us to cynically wish that Obama will fail so that Republicans can get the White House back in 2012. Now is the time for partisan politics to go on hiatus. We don't yet know what Obama will do. But we do owe President-Elect Obama the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

Far and away, the worst president of my life-time was Jimmy Carter. He wasn't an ideological leftist or a socialist (although he governed as one). Carter was a nice man (and a professing Christian) who was an inept president. But his ineptitude hurt all Americans--remember gas lines, hostages left in Iran for 444 days, and stagflation? So, I hope Obama is all that is advertised, because I don't want to suffer through that stuff again. It was a horrible time for many Americans.

Fourth, now that we have our first African-American president, let us also hope and pray for real and lasting racial reconciliation. May the Obama presidency heal the wounds that so many African-Americans deeply feel and which white Americans can't truly understand. That said, while there will always be racism in the city of man, I hope African-Americans realize that it was white Americans who elected the first black president. That is huge. Just twenty years ago, such a thing was unthinkable. This is a real chance to heal old wounds, right old wrongs, and then move on. Let us pray this happens!

Fifth, there is every possibility that Obama will seek to implement a far-left, socialist agenda. But there is also the possibility that Obama will be a centrist, and that he will govern from the left-center like Bill Clinton did. Remember, it is far easier to run for president and make all kinds of outlandish promises to your various constituencies, than it is to actually govern. The struggle to keep power will pull Obama back to the center, even if his instincts are to go hard-left. This what happens once you live inside the beltway and you grow to like that address @ 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Should Obama actually succeed in pushing forward the socialist, pro-abortion agenda which so many fear, many of the anti-Bush and union voters who elected him will turn on him, and his "rock-star" popularity will quickly evaporate. The mid-term elections will likely see that huge Democrat majority bounced right out of Congress.  Weakness in a national crisis, or a prolonged recession and/or a deepening economic crisis will also really hurt Obama--along with the rest of us. It won't be long before we find out whether or not that suit was empty, or if Obama has the mettle for the job.

Finally, there is a fundamental question here. Why wouldn't we want Obama to succeed? Are partisan politics really more important than the well-being of the nation? This is one of those periods when there are great national changes afoot, and this is truly a time to hope for the best (in terms of God's providence) for our beloved country. But we also need to hold Obama's feet to the fire (in terms of his campaign promises) and not be so naive as to think that the city of man (or President Obama) has any real answers to life's ultimate problems. I doubt very seriously that if John McCain had been elected president the millennium would begin on January 21, 2009.

This is going to be a very tough term of office for any president. So, it is our duty to pray for our new president, and wish him and our nation well. Meanwhile let us go about our callings and vocations as Christian citizens doing what Paul told us to do, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18), all the while not forgetting the words of the Psalmist (143), "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish."

Reader Comments (76)

Well said Pastor Kim.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn J.
Sorry, Kim, but this is one partisan who knows he doesn't even NEED to "hope Obama doesn't do well" so we can get the Congress back in 2010 and the White House back in 2012. Ineptitude is ineptitude. I'll pray for him, but I don't WANT him to succeed in one area, thus building a mandate for the five others you mentioned (abortion, socialism, etc.)
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRev. Z. Bartels
I fully agree. I appreciate your balanced perspective.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeal P.
Good comments Mr. Riddlebarger.

I hope God protects Barak Obama from all the haters out there and save Mr. Obama and his family.

Watching Mr. McCain's speech was sad, not what McCain said, he was very gracious and loving, it was the hisses and boos and anger and looks that came from the crowd. They wouldn't have been Christians eh?
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDouglas
Thank you so much for these convicting and encouraging words. I happened to be in my Doctrine of God class studying Turretin when McCain made his concession speech. Kind of puts things in perspective.
I will be referencing some of your comments tomorrow to my High School students, many of whom will be dejected. Yet, the words you quoted from Psalm 143 are comforting. We don't serve a God who changes, and we don't serve a God whose plans will perish. We serve the Creator of the Universe who compares the nations of the world to drops in a bucket next to His majesty.

Praise be to the King of Kings!

Matt Holst
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Holst
Pastor Kim:

I think the passage below was the passage you intended to cite rather than 2 Timothy 2:1-4. I looked up 2 Timothy 2:1-4 and chuckled a bit, given the context in which you cited it 8):

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV)
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeal P.
There is NOTHING about Obama that I respect. In my opinion, he is a master of deception. I will not pray against him, but I cannot yet pray for him. I cannot support his socialism, pro-abortion, class envy, gov't spread the wealth around policies. What is the content of his character? Obama, while in the IL senate, voted 4 times against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Infants who survived abortions and medical care for them, he voted against...4 times. What kind of soul does this? Kim, you are more gracious than I fear I can ever be to Obama.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterhuh
HA! The 2 Tim thing may be a Freudian slip...or providence... "Endure hardships" indeed...
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRev. Z. Bartels
I am not a supporter of Obama, but he's now our president, according to tonights responses to the vote. God will bless America, no matter who the president is, if we ask Him. I intend to ask God's blessing on our nation and our new president, because as a nation, we need God's blessing.

As has already been said, white American's voted for Obama too. I don't believe this is a racial issue, never has been. It's a vote between two men with different values. Evidently the values of the nation lean left too. Maybe instead of trying to change the President, we need to change ourselves.

November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJan Verhoeff

Thanks for catching this--that's what happens when you hurry.
November 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
Romans 13 1-7 (ESV)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.K.Brumbelow
In one sense, I find tonight sad. The Democrats demonized and lied about President Bush in order to regain power. Moderate Republicans, like McCain, never stood up for him, so the lies about President Bush were never answered. This led to the election of a Democratic President, and will mean that Roe vs. Wade will not be overturned, for the judiciary will be affected for years to come.

One of the reasons abortion is cherished in our nation is because we are a rebellious nation that wants to live sexually immoral lives. This is why Christians are hated on both the left and the right. When people worship the idols of sex and money and nature, they become like the idols they serve --- without spiritual sight, hearing or good sense.

I do pray for our president-elect. It is good to see a black president elected in our nation. I find that gratifying. But I fear that the factors which have brought him to power, bode even more judgment on our nation as the Lord gives us over to our sin.

The answer for believers is to pray that God in his mercy will call many to escape a wicked generation and the coming wrath by coming to the One who bore that wrath in our place. May the Lord have mercy on his church in this country and on our nation.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Weber

I appreciate your honesty. If I may, I would like to humbly share an observation and ask for your prayerful consideration. The comment you made speaks volumes to the state of your heart. If you can't pray for Obama(who isn't persecuting you) and apparently is an enemy of yours, you are disobeying the very one who died and opened your eyes to His truth.


"You have heard that it was said, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? "Therefore YOU are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

With Love,
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlando Franklin
Well Alando,

It should also be remembered that Christ called Herod "that fox", and I don't think that he was commenting on his good looks, either.
November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAJM
Thanks for the great post, Kim. The sentiments are godly, balanced and noble.
November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAerodynamicPenguin
"I hope African-Americans realize that it was white Americans who elected the first black president".....won't find too many friends in the black community with words like this! ;o)
November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersarah
I do believe Jesus did die for "that fox" though.
November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterseekins
I, too, cannot pray for Obama personally as, given his past practices and associations, I feel he serves Lucifer. I know from experience what his church, the UCC, is all about.

Now, having said that, I will pray for our nation to survive this presidency, for common decency to hold Obama in check, for the Lord to work through others to stop Obama from making the unborn a disposable commodity, for moral right to stand strong against Obama's unChristian ways and for democracy (not socialism) to prevail despite Obama being in the oval office.

November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
We are commanded by God to not fear the things that the world fears.
Anyone who is worried, vexed, or anxious about this turn of events is committing sin.
November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJames Paul
Last night when were to pray before dinner I had to read from Daniel 4:
"At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"

I am chilled to the bone when I hear Obama speak of raising up a civilian defense force, equal in strength to the military. In my mind this can only mean a secret police bringing people in line to a Marxist agenda. Regardless, I am not to have a spirit of fear but know the Lord reigns.

November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJames

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