I write this entry as I watch the intermittent live streaming broadcast of Barak Obama’s inauguration on my laptop. Ironically my Bible reading today was I Samuel 11 – 15, I backed up one chapter for context. It is the story of the inauguration and collapse of King Saul. I try to read five chapters a day. If I had tried to calculate this moment months ago it would not have been able to plan my reading so perfectly to fit such a historic day.
What are some principles to keep in mind this inauguration day?
1) Pray – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Prayer supersedes political parties. There is no doubt that America is post-Christian. This truth was eloquently stated by President Obama just a few moments ago, but it has been a predominant ideological and political practice for many years. A post-Christian environment does not give any follower of Christ an excuse to also become post-Christian. Barak Obama is no Nero or Domitian. In the context of Paul’s writing to Timothy Christians were being fed to lions and lit on fire as garden torches. Under such intensity Paul implored the people of God to pray. Prayer is the force behind preserving our freedom to practice our faith in peace. The church has lost its intensity in prayer. Paul says the first business of the church is to pray. Inauguration day should inaugurate for believers an intense time of prayer. Barak Obama is now our President. We are urged to pray for him. If we do not do so we have failed him as our leader.
2) Enthusiasm is not a substitute for righteousness – Today is a great day for all Americans. It is a celebration of our nation. Today is a season of joy. We should celebrate it together as Americans. Yet enthusiasm is no substitute for righteousness. In 1 Samuel 10:6 the prophet Samuel is telling Saul that the Spirit of God would change him. “Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.” Today inaugurates a change of ideas. Today needs to inaugurate our desire not only for national change but for spiritual change. In order for America to succeed we need to become a different kind of people. We must become people that seek the righteousness of God. In his farewell address Samuel tells the people to act in repentance. “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty (1 Samuel 12:20-21). The crisis of our nation is not as much economic as it is spiritual. We have morally collapsed. The themes presented in our art and media are a reflection of the seared moral conscience of our nation. Furthermore there is a moral crisis in the church. Rampant participation in all things ungodly characterizes the people of God. In order for God’s blessings to return to the church we must return to God. Sunday by Sunday we cover our unrighteousness with a veil of enthusiasm. It is time to return to righteousness and seek the Lord.
3) Be a student of history – On inauguration day it is not a bad idea to brush up on history. A marquee of post-modernism is the freedom of historical re-interpretation and revision. The rule of context is categorically ignored. Over the past few days we have been bombarded with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King and the inaugural speeches of past presidents. There has also been a sea of historical references to events that have shaped our nation. Unfortunately in citing many of those things the historical context has been ignored. Moments shape meaning. It is a tragedy to solicit the enthusiasm of a movement and ignore its ideology. I may be frowned upon for writing this but there are a lot of things flying around in the media right now that are hypocritical and not honoring to Dr. King nor the civil rights movement. That sort of thing happens when not only journalists but also the masses are bad students of history. We easily swallow the placebo; empty with no substance.
4) Identify – Wherever you fall in your political persuasion there is an amazing ability in humans to be able to exercise empathy. Last night there was a program on television that featured President elect Obama’s wife and daughters. His daughters look to be about the age of my girls, maybe just a tad older. In that moment of watching those girls I sensed a connection with the man who was sworn in today to carry the burden of our nation. Though our contexts are not comparable, as a leader of people I felt something for our President and the strain that his family will experience. Those girls are so young. To us Barak Obama is the President, to them he is a daddy – no election will change that fact. We so carelessly criticize our leaders without any thought for their humanity, their family, their heart. We detach ourselves from one another and believe it then safe to throw bombs. If you don’t know a man it won’t hurt you to destroy him. “Don’t get attached, its just business.” As a man who has experienced my fair share of critique I can testify that it hurts and it is impossible, at least for me, to emotionally detach. Let us, especially the people of God, respect the family of our President. May we take some sense of responsibility to protect the sanctity of his family as he has taken an oath to protect our own.
May our President serve us in righteousness, integrity, and honor. And may God bless America.