Thursday, November 20, 2008
I’ve reserved my comments about the election to allow all the post-election hype to simmer down. I certainly wasn’t surprised when Barack Obama was elected by an overwhelming electoral majority. All the major polls had predicted that this was the trend. As I watched the television coverage of the victory celebration in Grant Park, I became aware that 90% of the crowd seemed to be under the age of 30. Exit polls revealed that young voters both black and white overwhelmingly supported Obama.
You can argue about the issues that affected the outcome of the election: race, the economic crisis, liberal vs. conservative, etc. But I sense that it was more of a generational choice than anything else.
Both Obama and McCain are reformers in many ways, and both agree on the need for change. However, I believe age was an important factor in this election. Obama is young and McCain would have been the oldest president ever elected. In the end, I think it was the simple fact that Americans, especially younger Americans, believed it was time for a younger generation to have a chance at bringing about change. Obama represents the hope of a younger generation. He’s the first president in my lifetime who’s younger than I am, which only makes me feel a little older!
If he had been elected, John McCain would have been the oldest elected President in history (two years older than Ronald Reagan). At age 47, Obama is young, but he’s not the youngest president. There are four Presidents who were younger when they assumed the job. The youngest was Theodore Roosevelt (age 42). Of course, he wasn’t actually elected. He was serving as Vice-president when William McKinley was assassinated. John F. Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president (age 43). And both Bill Clinton, and Ulysses S. Grant were younger than Obama when they became President.
Texas, and especially Smith County where I live, supported McCain by an almost 2-1 margin. And there were many Texans disappointed by the outcome of the election. Some people have already taken “the-sky-is-falling” position. I’ve gotten emails claiming that Obama is actually the anti-christ. (Don’t be surprised if/when someone uses the letters in his name in some obtuse mathematical formula to claim that it adds up to 666.) Others claim that we are headed toward becoming a socialist state. Actually we’ve already taken a huge step in that direction in the unprecedented financial “bail-out” legislation that was just passed! (I agree with my Congressman, Louie Gohmert, who opposed the bail-out on the grounds that it would move us toward a socialistic form of economy.)
But before you give up on America, let’s give President-elect Obama a chance to prove that he can lead us effectively. As I write this blog I’m in Sao Paulo, Brazil to participate in an EQUIP training event for pastors. I asked the two pastors who picked us up at the airport what they thought about the election, and they said that almost everyone in Brazil was happy that Obama was elected because they thought his election would improve American relations around the world. Go figure.
This election reminds me of the election in 1960 in which JFK defeated Richard Nixon. JFK was the first (and still the only) Roman Catholic to be elected as President. I can remember my parents saying that because Kennedy was elected that it would be the end of the world and that America would become weaker.
Frankly, at times, it DID seem like the end of the world was near with missiles in Cuba pointed at the US. I was part of the generation of elementary students who practiced bomb drills. We were taught to “duck and cover” by hiding under our desks. Since I lived only 40 miles north of Eglin Air Force Base, I doubt that “ducking and covering” would have made much difference in the case of a nuclear attack. But JFK proved to be a strong leader by staring down the mighty Soviet Union and not blinking first.
So, although my candidate of choice wasn’t elected, what am I going to do? Three things:
FIRST: I’m going to PRAY for President-elect Obama and his family. The Bible says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 1:2) It’s important to remember that Paul wrote these words at a time when “the King” (the Roman Emperor) was persecuting and killing Christians! I challenge you to join me in praying for President-elect Obama, his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters Sasha and Malia. I’m praying that God will protect them and that the job of President won’t be a tool for the enemy to drive a wedge between him and his wife and between him and his two daughters who need a daddy during this time of their lives. I’m praying that God will turn Obama’s heart toward heaven and that he will truly fall in love with Jesus and be a man who seeks God’s face for wisdom and direction. If you think that’s too hard for God, just read the book of Daniel and see how God turned the heart of King Nebuchanezzar toward heaven!
SECOND: I’m going to RESPECT the office of President and the man who occupies it. I will probably disagree with President Obama on issues, but I will disagree respectfully. I have bristled over the last eight years whenever someone made a disrespectful remark about President Bush being “stupid” – or even worse. I’ve asked God to give me the same negative reaction to anyone who maligns the next President. Some malicious attacks are already happening because he’s black. I grew up in South Alabama during a time when there were water fountains labeled “whites only” and public bathrooms that said “whites only.” It is an amazing accomplishment that America has elected an African-American. As I’ve said before, I’m color-blind, and I would have loved for a black female to be elected (but Condoleezza Rice chose not to run!) We must guard against the temptation to make remarks about the President because of the color of his skin. I agree with Beth Moore who has written that “as Christians we must have zero tolerance” for prejudice or prejudicial remarks. So, if you hear a racial slur poised as a “joke,” may God give you the fortitude not to laugh and perhaps to gently respond to the person who told it to you.
THIRD: I’m going to REJOICE that my true King is Jesus! I can never become consumed or obsessed with “politics” in this world because I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven! My King is Jesus, and I didn’t elect Him, He chose me! Kingdoms of this world will come and go, but the Kingdom of God will last eternally. God is still on His throne. Remember Romans 8:28 and believe that in ALL things, God is at work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I’m praying that America WILL experience change –a nationwide spiritual awakening that will shake our nation from the White House to the Church House!
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