I watched the President’s speech yesterday at the 50 year commemoration ceremony in Selma, Alabama. It was a very good speech, one of the best I have ever heard from a politician, bordering on being a Christian sermon. In fact, after it was over, I mentioned to Sharon that it felt like we had just been to church.
After hearing him speak yesterday, and recalling many of his other speeches, it is fascinating how he so effortlessly weaves the words of scripture and Christian hymns into many of his speeches. It is not unusual for many of our Presidents to quote scripture in their speeches; however this President seems to do it with great familiarity of the words.
What has always perplexed me is the way so many people insist that President Obama is not a Christian. He claims to be a Christian, he shares his faith often, he testifies to a conversion experience, he appears to live a lifestyle that is consistent with a Christian faith, and as I said, he seems very comfortable with the Bible. These are all evidence of a genuine faith.
I understand that some of you will suggest I read James 1:19 where we are reminded that even Satan himself believed in God, or you might refer to the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness and remind me that Satan also quoted scripture. But come one, if that is your criteria then none of our claims to be Christian are valid.
Others will complain that a Christian would not support gay marriage. However, last time I checked, having a specific opinion about homosexuality was not a prerequisite for salvation. I am confident that some of my political positions are not correct, and I’m pretty sure the same is true for some of your beliefs as well. The answer to that old witnessing question, “If you were to die tonight and God asked why should I let you into heaven?” has not been changed to “I’m opposed to gay marriage.”
I am not saying that I agree with everything this President has done, nor do I support all of his policies. I just wonder why we have such a hard time accepting his claim to be a Christian. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…
In Matthew 10, Jesus provided the criteria that God will use in determining true believers:
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”
It is interesting how the criteria for judgment coincide with Jesus’ description of his task when he first began His ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
It would serve us well not to judge the President’s faith on the basis of his political party, his position on a particular political issue (or even moral issue), his Muslim sounding name, or anything other than what Jesus suggested. Even further, perhaps we shouldn’t judge at all until we make sure we are doing everything we can for the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and prisoners.