At 7am on Wednesday November 5th I posted “Why God Had Obama Win”. Up until that time this site averaged less than 20 hits a day for the two months that it was up. In a little over 48 hours 800 people have accessed the site and I have been told of hundreds more who have read it because people have copied the post and put it on their Facebook page, on other blog sites, and in one case even translated one of the posts from the blog into Russian to post on a site in Ukraine. As you can well imagine it has left me rather astonished. I thought I had something to add to the discussion but never figured that it would attract that much attention.
Well being the kind of person that God has wired me to be I have spent a good bit of time wondering why so many people have been compelled not just to read it but to keep passing it on to others. As I look at the responses that I have received at the blog as well as in emails, on other blogs, and Facebook walls it seems that there are a couple of reasons for this mini-viral blip.
For the first presidential election in my life time, and I can remember Goldwater running against Lyndon Johnson in 1964 so that covers a few elections, the evangelical church has shown solid support for two different candidates. In the past there has nearly always been a single candidate that a vast majority of evangelicals rallied around. This year that was not the case. A purely unscientific poll of people I know revealed an even split between Obama and McCain supporters. I think that this lack of consensus on the part of Christians has added to the anxiety. McCain supporters just can’t figure out how a fellow Christian can support Obama, and to a lesser degree the reverse is also true. I say to a lesser degree because McCain fits the more typical profile that evangelicals have historically supported when it comes to abortion and gay marriage, and other similar social issues.
I believe that this lack of consensus in the church has added to a sense of dread. Some people are worried that we are somehow being deceived. It is hard for them to imagine that God’s people could disagree so much without there somehow being the hand of Satan behind it. Certainly that is always a possibility, but it may also simply be that the landscape is changing and the the monolithic power block of evangelicals is no more. Christians have woken up to a host of other issues, including care for the poor, and the sick, and creation. The issues we care about are growing and as a result, no one candidate seems able to address them all. Depending on what your hot button issue is, you will support a different candidate. A couple of conversations with people who wrestled long and hard over who to vote for demonstrated this. Many who I have spoken to who voted for Obama truly admire McCain and agree with many of his positions. They made a decision for Obama based on his approach to other issues that they also cared about.
I think a second factor involved in why people gravitated to the site is that there has been so much doom and gloom predicted by Christians over an Obama presidency that many people were looking for hope. Yes, I know, kind of ironic isn’t it, looking for hope after the candidate of hope gets elected? But from what people have expressed to me it is clear that many Christians who supported McCain were genuinely worried about how this was going to change the world. One women even expressed fear that since we had a “Muslim” president, Christians were going to be persecuted terribly. I don’t even know how to seriously respond to that. (Well I do but that would take too long at the moment) What it shows me again is what this site is all about. Followers of Christ are generally not following Jesus very well. If, and this is a huge hypothetical “if”, we do start suffering persecution for our faith, the biblical, dare I say provocative response, is to praise God for the privilege of being counted worthy to suffer for Jesus name. Read Philippians 1:29, Matthew 5:10-12, and Acts 5:40-42 for just a few examples of how our forefathers in the faith rejoiced in their persecution.
What all of this forces me to do is go back to our roots in scripture. remember the word for “root” is the same for “radish” and “radical”. So getting back to our radical roots of a provocative life means that we must be the best posible citizens who not only pray for our president-elect, but live the Great Commandment to love God with all out heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We do that even if, especially if, we think that neighbor is an enemy. In that way, we will change the world, just like that first generation of Christ-followers did 2,000 years ago.