First, let me say this up front. I am a registered Republican. I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. But I am also a Christian believer, a serious disciple of Jesus, and committed to having Jesus and His Gospel inform and guide my choices in all aspects of my life–including my politics.
That being said, I perceive President Obama, based on his Christian testimony and his personal and presidential choices, as a Christian who is heroically ‘walking the Gospel road’, under serious pressure and condemnation from US Christians, conservatives, and Republicans. Let me explain my views.
Here is an excerpt of Barak Obama’s speech to members of the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, sharing the beginning of his Christian journey:
“…So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called “The Audacity of Hope.” And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.
It was because of these new-found understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church, as folks sometimes do. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. The skeptical bent of my mind didn’t suddenly vanish. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.” OK, that’s point one.
Point two is the evidence of his commitment to tithing. According the the Washington Post, “…President Obama and his wife, Michelle, despite having the second-lowest income of the four candidate/spouse combos, gave the highest percentage of their $1.8 million income to charity in 2010, at 13.6 percent… when you calculate charitable giving based on adjustable gross income, Obama actually takes a lead. He and Michelle gave 14.2 percent of their AGI, while the Romneys gave 13.8 percent.” That’s a bigger chunk of their income than most of average Christians or even non-Christians contribute.
My third reason is based on a more complex analysis of the differences between Old Testament views and Jesus’ own views on genuine human relationships. That difference is deeply rooted in Jesus’ directive to love everyone unconditionally. EVERYONE–not just the folks who are like us, think, act, or live like us, not even just those folks who believe or espouse what we value or profess–but *everyone*. Here are some of the cornerstone scriptures.
My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love. The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. John 15:12-13)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.
Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that!And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.(1 John 4:20-21)
This perspective is the basis, I believe for President Obama’s advocacy of the right for gay men and women’s right to live in m, loving, married lives.
Mr. Obama invoked his Christian faith in explaining his decision.
“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated,” he said. “And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”
I believe that our President is walking a courageous, heroic, gospel-centered life. It has become for him, in my perspective, a choice between the Old Testament and the New Testament versions of being righteous. In a life that mirror’s Jesus’ Life, unconditional love must inform and govern every choice we make–*every choice*. AMEN