Our nation has spoken and created an historic moment with the election of the first African American to the Presidency. Perhaps it will be a hinge moment finally ending a sad chapter dark with racism and beginning a new chapter that reflects more consistently some of the nation's most treasured ideals. Historic moments present earnest Christ-followers with strategic kingdom opportunities. Surely we must discern and make the most of the opportunities. Such discernment will take time, but here are some apostolic counsels that seem timely and helpful.
The first Christ followers heard the Spirit's directive in Paul's exhortation:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:1-6, NLT).
Free Methodists must become intercessors for President Obama, his Cabinet, and the Congress he leads. Remember who was in power when Paul called the church to pray. Remember the contagious and nearly irresistible kingdom movement that swept across the then known world, in part through the governments of those ruling authorities. More hopeful still, our President Elect professes to know and follow Christ. While that offers no certain guarantees, we should surely pray that the Word and Spirit of Christ at work in his heart guides his work as President.
Another counsel from the Apostle Paul also seems appropriate. To the Philippian Church he wrote: Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8, NLT). Paul assumes that God is always at work, and that it is possible to identify at least some of the good God is working. Then, if identified, we can cheer the good on and collaborate with the good against the Evil One.
Last night we heard two excellent addresses. One spoke out of defeat and the other out of victory. Both, however, sounded similar themes. Both expressed humility and extended grace. Both acknowledged the collaborative efforts that led to that moment. Both recognized that the challenges we face call for commitment to what transcends individual or party concerns. Both at least hinted that the way forward will call for the sacrifice of self. Both spoke words of hope and confidence. And both recognize that we have opportunities to bless the world more by our values and ideals than by the politics of power.
Consider the good–humility, grace, collaboration or unity, self-sacrifice, hope, blessing for the world. Surely we who follow the One who embodies such good have strong encouragement to pray confidently, and to collaborate courageously with the good we see around us–all for, and in service to, the One whose steadfast love remains the bottom line.