I write from Alexandria, Egypt where I've been privileged to share a biblical vision of church with the brothers and sisters of the Free Methodist Church in Egypt. What a wonderful privilege! But, what does that have to do with antichrist?
As you know the whole world loves our new President. Obama-mania manifests everywhere, perhaps especially on the continent of Africa. The other day, during an evening of Ramadan (when the streets are alive with teeming crowds of people celebrating what to them is the holiest time of the year) while walking in a marketplace I saw a sign that read:
THE NEW TUTANKHAMEN
FOR THE WORLD
I have thought a lot about why the people here love our President so much. It's not because they know much about him. Most know nothing about the U.S. government in general and the President in particular. I think it's what President Obama symbolizes for them. A person of color can be leader of the most powerful nation on earth. A relatively young man can be leader of the most powerful nation on earth. A person belonging to a minority can be leader of the most powerful nation on earth. And, such a person can become leader without violence or social upheaval. These are huge, seemingly miraculous possibilities for people who live in Africa. And now in our President such possibilities are realities. If nothing else, it suggests there might be hope for other nations. But, what does all of this have to do with antichrist?
I've been sharing from 1 Peter a biblical vision of the church. One of the points I see so clearly and pray for so fervently is that the church is participant and agent of God's kingdom-made-real in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I've insisted that true Christ-followers are a new kind of people, a kingdom people. It's as if we have immigrated to a new country–kingdom-country. And, like all immigrants in a new land, it's necessary to learn the language of their new country. That language is a language of praise to God and blessing toward others. Christ followers speak this language even when others speak or act in ways that hurt or even destroy them. No matter what happens–good or evil–kingdom people speak the kingdom language–full of praise to God and eager to bless others. But, again, what does this have to do with antichrist?
As I was finishing final preparation for last night's presentation I recalled a story I read on line a few days ago. It told of a U. S. pastor who told his church that he was praying for President Obama's death. I had to read it several times! Yes, indeed, he was praying that the President would contract brain cancer, as Senator Ted Kennedy did, and quickly die! He is a pastor! He represents Jesus Christ and his kingdom! But, if the story is correct, he doesn't speak the language of the kingdom. He speaks the language of some other place quite alien to the kingdom of God. Sadly, in his words, so full of anger as they were, we have words designed to curse and kill, not to bless. In these words, antichrist came out into the open!
On this point it doesn't matter why the Pastor said it. It doesn't matter what the issues are. It doesn't matter whether the President is on God's side on the issues or in his actions. A kingdom person speaks the language of the kingdom. As Jesus taught, "Out of the heart flows … evil thoughts … murder … and this is what defiles the person"(Matt. 15: 17-20). A pastor or anyone else who speaks such words as reported in that article, about the President or any other human being, reveals what is in his heart. Words that reflect evil and murder reveal their speaker as antichrist in character.