There are times when any good shepherd recognizes that the need to comfort his flock outweighs all other concerns, and this seems to me to be one of those times. This past week has found me dealing with a deep and foreboding sense of loss among a shocked Christian populace far beyond that which I’ve ever seen before in the wake of any election, forcing me to realize that something truly profound had occurred last Tuesday. And so yesterday I took some time away from our normal Sunday morning study through Genesis, choosing instead to lend a shepherd’s focus upon the reelection of Barack Obama as President of the United States. This article (although lengthy) is meant merely to be a written summary of that audio message delivered from the pulpit of Calvary Chapel Fallbrook on Veterans Day 2012, and I humbly encourage my readers to listen to that message.
What I am, and what I am not.
I can already hear the objections to such an idea, so let me begin by describing what I am and what I am not. What I am is a man who believes that Scripture faithfully outlines for us the principles for limited and just government, and as such I describe myself as a Biblist. What I am is a man who by these principles alone judges the appropriateness or inappropriateness of government at every level. What I am not is a liberal, a moderate, a conservative, a libertarian or an anarchist, nor am I loyal to any political party.
What I am is a man who believes that God is the sovereign landlord of planet Earth, but Who has given responsibility of the affairs of Earth to humanity (Genesis 1:26), and that we have a duty to act accordingly. What I am not is a man who will ever cede such responsibility to any other person, institution or political party.
What I am is a man who believes that the Kingdom of God is where God is king, and that He is king wherever He is welcomed. What I am not is a man who confuses that idea with any political party, nation or system of government.
What I am is a man who has read the Scriptures many times and who has studied prophecy for decades. What I am not is a man who has ever seen a date imposed by Scripture for the hegemony of Evil upon Earth. And what I am not is a man who will ever roll over and play dead so that Evil may wax in strength in order to usher in the return of Jesus Christ.
What I am is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who in March of 1984 swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, pledging to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Who I am is a man whose oath of fidelity to the Constitution bore no expiration date, and who holds himself accountable to it to this very day. Who I am not is a man who does so with any qualm or reservation as a pastor or as a Christian, for our magnificent Constitution – more than any document ever penned by man – codified the Biblical principles of good government.
What happened, and why do we have such a deep sense of loss?
- By voting for a man, an Administration and a political party that openly defy Scripture, the majority of voting Americans enshrined a near-absolute failure of Biblical principles in their national government. The design basis for human government is to honor and protect the image of God in humanity (Genesis 9:6b), and this image is summarized for us in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) as those things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Such things cannot be attained apart from allegiance to the Word of God, and we have just severed our national government from such allegiance.
- President Obama was proven to be correct when he described America as a non-Christian nation.
- The American people have effectively rendered the Constitution impotent and have ensured the ultimate demise of our constitutional republic. The Constitution was designed to keep government in a very small and tight box in order to maintain the dignity and freedom of the American people. Knowingly granting four more years of power to an Administration whose answer to everything is more government – and which shows blatant disregard for the separation of powers – forever relieves our national government of the restraints of that box.
- America’s greatest days are now behind her, as we will be unable to ever truly recover from the onslaught of non-Biblical government inflicted upon us over the next four years.
- America went from being what was left of a nation under God to a nation against God. With no Biblical restraints now placed upon political and social actions, our national sins will accelerate and be compounded, and the worst of these is the scourge of abortion. We have already sanctioned the killing of well over fifty million babies in the womb since the Roe v. Wade decision, and this number is now likely to grow exponentially. This is most sobering when we consider that national sins are not forgiven, and that when national sins reach a breaking point for God, he judges that nation by removing them as a nation from Earth. Judah could never be forgiven for the innocent blood shed by Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-16), and neither will America.
Why did it happen?
- Evil never sleeps, and good people always end up growing weary and letting their guard down. God makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), which means that Evil seeks to make everything hideous in its time, and it never gives up the fight. Christianity went on a long smoke break and left the barn door wide open.
- Where once it held sway and was able to create and nurture the finest nation ever known, Christianity has now proven itself irrelevant in America. It is irrelevant because its churches are irrelevant; its churches are irrelevant because their congregants are irrelevant; its congregants are irrelevant because their lives and thinking know little to no fidelity to the Word of God and because their pastors are irrelevant; and its pastors are irrelevant because they do not hold forth the Word of God in its entirety and without compromise. As a result, American Christianity has become a mere shell of its former self, capable of spouting nothing more than weak, senseless, semi- or non-Biblical platitudes, and represents little more than darkened worldly thinking with a pretty John 3:16 bow tied to itself in an attempt to justify its impotent ignorance.
What’s the appropriate immediate reaction?
- Good people should always grieve when something noble is lost upon Earth, and as a document that enshrined many of the great Biblical principles of government, the Constitution was the noblest of things. The entire book of Lamentations was written by a Jewish man (Jeremiah) who was heartbroken over the loss of goodness and greatness is his beloved nation, and it is appropriate to grieve when we sense the loss of these things in our own.
- We must not succumb to the ridiculous brand of Biblical fatalism going around at this time. This fatalism is a tidy combination of the ideas expressed in Daniel 2:21 (where we see that God raises up and deposes rulers), Matthew 6:33 (where we’re told to seek first the Kingdom of God), Romans 13:1,2 (where we see that governments are established by God) and Philippians 3:20 (where we see that our ultimate citizenship is in Heaven). All of these are wonderful and true ideas, but when taken together do not in any way mean that we are required to abdicate our responsibility as human beings to be about the affairs of planet Earth (Genesis 1:26), or to withdraw from them to await the return of Christ once Evil has waxed full. God’s perfect plan was the Garden of Eden; ever since then we must do our best. God’s will for us is to fight Evil in every way until we are taken home to Him. God did not vote for President Obama on Tuesday – the American people did (including 21% of those reported to be evangelicals).
- We must resist the urge to run away or give up. When Elijah the prophet was overcome with the overwhelming influence of evil, he did run away and give up (1 Kings 19:1-18). And after comforting and strengthening him, God commissioned Elijah with three specific orders and then sent him back into the fray. But before He did so, God reassured Elijah with the fact that there were 7,000 noble men in Israel who had never bowed the knee to Baal and whose lips had never kissed that wretched idol. We must catch our breath, recover, and jump back into the battle, never forgetting that there are many thousands of faithful followers of Jesus Christ upon these shores.
What should the Christian do?
- We must return to relevance, which imposes a responsibility upon the Believer in three ways. The first of these is the responsibility each of us has as a human being, by which I mean we must show fidelity to the image of God in us. Secondly, we each need to be patriotic citizens of our nation. God invented the idea of separate and sovereign nations in order to protect the image of God in humanity (Genesis 10-11), and for that to occur requires that we always do what is best for our nation (patriotism). And what is best for our nation is adherence to Biblical principles. Thirdly, each Christian must become a person whose life and thinking owe absolute allegiance to God’s Word; otherwise we have nothing of depth, beauty and substance to offer this world. Finally, there is the responsibility that we pastors have, and that is to ensure that our pulpits positively thunder with the righteousness and rightness of Scripture without pause, compromise or capitulation to the ideologies of Darkness, regardless of the feathers that may
be ruffled in doing so.
- We must understand that we are at fault. I expect the Darkness to act like Darkness, and for the Enemy to act like our Enemy; I am therefore not at all surprised at what Evil is doing in our midst. But what I also expect is for those of the Light to act like they are champions of it, and this is where we have failed so very miserably in the previous few generations. We all know the formula well enough by now, but let us give sincere efforts towards its implementation: Let us truly humble ourselves, repent and accept blame (2 Chronicles 7:14; Daniel 9:1-19), let us be people positively overflowing with the Word of God (Philippians 2:15-16), let us be in sincere prayer for our government and our leaders even though we may disagree with them (1 Timothy 2:1-3), and then let us be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) in social and political affairs.
- We must make the most of our exile. Due to our irrelevance, we’ve been shunted aside and have largely been stripped of power, authority and national relevance, just as happened to David by King Saul. After fleeing from Saul into exile, though, David still fought the battles of God and Israel, and in my opinion these were the most remarkable years of his life. Our best years are ahead of us now that we’ve been stripped of the ability to be comfortable in the exercise of our faith. David began his exile with but one thing – the remarkable sword of Goliath, which knew no equal as a weapon. We too have a weapon with no equal (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16), and if we are stripped of all except the use of just that weapon, O what great things await us in the days to come!
I love epic times, and it just got seriously epic on us! Going, going, gone are the comfortable shades of grey in which Christianity has for too long tried to exist upon these shores. The time for choosing sides is now upon us, for neither our Master nor Hell’s will any longer allow us to waffle between Light and Darkness.
Finally, let me leave you with this: Last Tuesday evening I went to bed with a heaviness of soul, grieving for the nation I once served and still so deeply love. But when I stepped into our living room the next morning and came within view of my two faithful dogs, they were as overjoyed to see me as they had been the day before, completely oblivious to the profound and weighty matters so deeply affecting me. To them what mattered most was that the central issue of their existence had not changed – their master was still alive! That central issue is the same for us (Revelation 1:18), and it will never change. Nor ever will our hope or our joy!
So be blessed. Be encouraged. But let us be about the business at hand!
9 thoughts on “The Reelection of Barack Obama: One Pastor’s Perspective”
Thank you Pastor Berry, I know i felt the same loss as you, and so many others, and it still bothers me a lot. Your message and your insight are encouraging . So I say Amen!
Bummer! Why is that I am always working down in Children’s Church when you give these messages. I will definitely be giving the audio a listen to! And my dogs simply emanate indifference most of the time and Wednesday morning was no different. 😉
Barry, I was riveted as I listened to this message and have forwarded this message to many. It was encouraging, convicting and life giving. Thank you for being courageous enough to address the bottom line issues with clarity, grace and power.
Thanks for the encouragement everyone!
Wow. One quote in this article really stood out to me, “As a result, American Christianity has become a mere shell of its former self, capable of spouting nothing more than weak, senseless, semi- or non-Biblical platitudes, and represents little more than darkened worldly thinking with a pretty John 3:16 bow tied to itself in an attempt to justify its impotent ignorance.” I agree and this article itself is proof.
Tremendous take on what has sent a shock wave through the christian community. Thanks for the encouraging word. I believe this is the church’s finest hour yet!
Pastor Barry, what a tremendous message! While I agree with everything you have said, I see things from a slightly different perspective. You are a man of the pulpit and a student of the bible and I am not, therefore we tend to view the state of our country differently. I still have some faith in the American citizen and his basic ability to make wise decisions concerning our great country and the politics that affect it. We as a nation have failed, but that does not mean there is no hope for the future. I strongly believe that the truth that will come out about the Libyan embassy assault and the General Petraeus situation will eventually dethrone King Obama and level his temple of czars. Once the timing of those two events and the cover-up of both until after the election will show America the true Obama and his gang of puppets. I must believe that America will recover from what he has done and we will begin to rebuild this great Nation in two years with the next elections. As an American I have to believe this! Christianity is not dead in this country; I must also believe this!
I think we who profess to be Christian must head the words of our Savior and carry his work to all the nations…that includes this one. For all are in need of His word. I love my pastor’s sermons…he really is good and very Biblical…but I dislike the fact that no service was on Thanksgiving Day…just two on Wed. before…what does a non Christian think when the church parking lot is empty on Thanksgiving..on Christmas Day only one service! Yes, we need time with our families but we also need to spread the word and set an example, show the faith. We Christians do not act like this is a Christian nation…so why should anyone be surprised that no one thinks we are anymore!
I agree totally with Ms Ruhnke-David