Daily Archives: August 26, 2008

Can Barack Obama Really Be a Christian?

After the Saddleback forum between the two presidential candidates, I had a conversation with someone very close to me who questioned my post about the event. This person said they thought it was good except they don’t believe that Barack Obama is really a Christian. In my post, I took both candidates at their word when they claimed to have a deep personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The unidentified critic couldn’t see how Obama could be a Christian if he was such a staunch supporter of abortions, including procedures that many Democrats find hard to support. While I understand where this person is coming from, I don’t believe it is my place to sit on the judgment seat about the soul of another person. That seat belongs to God alone, and He will judge us all for our words, actions and thoughts.

I believe someone can have political or cultural views that doesn’t seem to line up with Scripture and still be a Christian. I believe someone can be living in sin and still be a Christian. This gets to the whole issue – What really determines the salvation of an individual person? Is is our stated beliefs, our actions, our relationship with God,  divine grace or some hard-to-calculate combination of all four? That question is difficult to answer with certainty because each person is so different. To quote Obama, “It is beyond my pay grade.”

When it comes to salvation, I consider the question that the Apostle Paul asked, “Who am I to judge some else’s servant?” As long as someone claims to follow Christ and acknowledges Him as Lord, I believe that person may very well be a Christian even if they support things that God hates. The Bible is full of people who loved God and yet did incredibly horrible sins. That is where grace and mercy come into play.

At the same time, a person can claim to be a Christian all they want and not really be one. Only God and that person really know the truth. I don’t believe that Jesus can be your savior unless He is also your Lord. The problem is that the lordship threshold is hard to define since we all sin in some way.

Personally, I believe abortion is wrong and should be outlawed in most cases. I have no intention of voting for Obama. I find some of the comments of his pastor impossible to reconcile with Jesus’ teaching. But that doesn’t mean that I think the guy is going to hell. Obama will have to account to God for his support of abortion rights and his role in extermination the unborn children of this country.

At the end of the day, only God knows for sure if either of the candidates are really part of His kingdom family. I hope they both are the real deal.

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What does real revival look like in a local church?

Revival is a curious thing. All Christians seem to think different things when they hear that word. Some think of tent meetings or prayer gatherings. Others think about miraculous signs and wonders. Others think about famous preachers who tell it like it is. Still others talk about great evangelistic crusades, the Great Awakening or missions efforts to spread the Gospel.

I have thought about what revival means to me after a good friend asked me two hard questions this past weekend. He asked, “Are you really ready for revival?” Then he asked, “What do you think revial would look like in your life and your local church?”

Wow! Those are tough questions. 

I would like to say that I am ready for revival but I know that I struggle to fully trust with everything all the time. And I know that revival starts with trust. I must abandon my will over to God’s divine purposes for my life. That is hard to do, especially in the moment when He asks us to sacrifice something that we hold dear.

The last question may be even harder because revival can look so different depending on the person and the local congregation. Here are some things that I came up with while discussing the topic with friends.

Revival in my church (and my life) would look like…

  • Greater unity and a coming together of various age and culture groups
  • Repentance, prayer and brokenness
  • Less negative talk and more words of faith
  • Abandonment to do whatever God asks without complaining
  • Deeper commitment to spiritual disciplines
  • Hunger for more supernatural encounters that require us to live by faith
  • Increased vision and heart for the lost and spiritually wounded in our community
  • Commitment to make Jesus number one in every aspect of life
  • Using spiritual gifts and equipping all believers to serve
  • Deepen mentoring and discipleship relationships as spiritual fathers and mothers raise up the young in the faith
  • Looking for opportunities to serve those who are marginalized, poor or oppressed
  • Walking in humility as we relate to those outside of the church
  • Seeking to reconcile with those we have hurt or hurt us in the past
  • Tearing down institutional idols and mindsets that keep us from reaching our culture for Christ

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