Difficult Confidence

It’s Wednesday morning, Barack Obama is president elect, and the democrats have significantly advanced their majority positions in both houses of congress. I predicted this outcome almost a year ago, but it is certainly not the outcome I hoped or voted for.

If you know me, you know that I’m fairly seriously active on Facebook. I’m also a pretty social guy in general. I have 230 or so registered friends on FB, and I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that the vast majority of them have supported Barack Obama throughout the campaign, voted for him, and are now gleefully expressing their joy at his victory. I don’t know some of these people well enough to know if support for Obama in this election is the same as devoted liberalism in general. I am fairly certain, however, that many of them voted for the first time in a national election last night, not due to age but to an interest and commitment that hasn’t previously existed. Senator Obama has clearly inspired millions. But let’s leave aside for the moment the question of whether or not their perceived liberalism is thoughtful or what drove them to their vote, and just speak in terms of Obama supporters and McCain supporters. All that to say that of my many Facebook friends, I’d say the Obama supporters outnumbered the McCain supporters 5 to 1, at least. So, my long-standing theory that Obama would win and the Dems would pick up seats in congress was pretty solidly confirmed long before the election.

As a result this morning, my Obama-loving friends are rejoicing, and my McCain-loving and conservative-principle-loving friends (not the same two groups, necessarily) are crying in their Wheaties. I admit I’m experiencing flashes of sadness, fear, and anger, but my most prominent emotion is confidence, and I thought that it was worth talking about in this setting as a word to my Christian friends. So, if you’re one of the many liberal people I know who loves to debate, you’re welcome to comment on this blog entry, but it’s important to me that you understand up front that I’m not writing this either A) for you, or B) because I’m itching for a fight, debate, argument, heated discussion, or anything else along those lines. I’m also not writing because I think I’m wise or brilliant in any way. It’s as true as it has ever been for me this morning to say that “I will not boast in anything – no gifts, no power, no wisdom – but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.” I’m expressing myself because I feel compelled to do so as a means of pointing to God.

So, where am I going with this? Simply put, I think Barack Obama is a dangerous man. Why? I’ll spend one paragraph and one only explaining this belief…

Barack Obama is very young, has very little real experience, has closely associated with myriad very shady and disturbing people, and believes in ideas that will bankrupt this country both economically and by robbing its citizens of the work ethic, self-reliance, and freedom they have long enjoyed (some of which has already been seriously eroded). His positions on abortion, healthcare, and heavily-socialist economic policy deeply concern me, and the fact that I have almost nothing to go on to help me predict what he might do in the face of very real Int’l threats from very bad people who want to kill us all is also quite disconcerting. And on top of all of this, it is my opinion that throughout his campaign and even his brief career to date in public office, he and his family have demonstrated a profound lack of patriotic allegiance to and awe of this country. They seem to display a fierce allegiance to race and to a set of (frankly) anti-America socialist ideas, but not to the core principles of the America I know and love. And it goes on and on. I haven’t even talked about how it feels like he’s used the race card in this contest in very inappropriate ways or that his support of the so-called “fairness doctrine” threatens free speech or how his “community development work” in Chicago doesn’t really feel like it’s gotten the city anywhere or about his support for and association with ACORN and other organizations which I think are patently and systemically corrupt. Any one of these things would be cause for concern, but we’re talking about all of them rolled into one man … not just a liberal, but possibly the most liberal person in the Senate and someone who I seriously doubt could get a “Top Secret” clearance coming in off the street (given his beliefs and past associations), but has now been elected to the most powerful office in the world. Lastly, the press and myriad millions of average Americans adore this guy, shield him from criticism, defend him with very little substance from which to do so (mostly it stems from strongly buying into the vague general propaganda that life currently sucks and he can fix it), and follow him around more like adoring fans than political supporters. The rock star savior persona makes me pretty nervous, and so does the fact that I believe a LOT of people of different races voted for him only because he’s black, such that almost no matter what he had said or believed, he’d have gotten their votes.

Okay, so that was a really long single paragraph, but… By the time you add all this up, in my mind, you get a person who (when supported by a strong democratic majority in Congress and empowered by the likelihood that he’ll replace as many as 3 Supreme Court Justices and dozens of federal judges) has far too much power to implement changes which will fundamentally change the fabric of our nation for generations to come. And that brings me to my real point…

That’s probably a good thing.

I believe Mr. Obama’s economic policies will bring economic disaster. I believe his foreign policies will invite attack and diminish our ability to defend ourselves and to do good in the world … yes, even beyond the depths to which these have already fallen. I believe his domestic policy will erode freedoms, crap on the constitution, and spit in the eye of the founding fathers. Jobs will disappear. Wealth will disappear. Freedoms will disappear. Rights will disappear. In general, I predict that life (when measured by these standards – economics, security, liberty, etc) will get much harder, and the democrats will continue to tell us that they can make it better with more diplomacy, bigger government, more taxes, less evil dogmatic religion, broader definitions of marriage and family, looser values, etc.

How is that a good thing? Simple, and here’s the real message in this long-winded rant… because the most important things in life (real faith, real spiritual maturity, real dependence on God, real worship, etc) typically operate in inverse proportion to these other things (prosperity, security, liberty, etc). Casual pseudo-Christians won’t understand this, and they are legion. But those of us who know God and seek daily to walk with Him understand that at the end of the day America is not our home. God’s Kingdom and economy almost always function in direct reverse of the world’s economy.

So, I believe today is a very significant day in the transition that is to come. For those who are willing to let God do this work in their hearts, real growth will become possible in a way that we haven’t seen in several generations … as dross is stripped away in a (probably brutally) painful refining process. This is the source of my confidence, and my hope for the future. Not that I will have more money, because I won’t. Not that my children will be better off (financially, and in terms of their career opportunities, home ownership potential, and upward mobility) as has been true for generations, because they won’t. Not that my kids will grow up in a safer, more secure, more free America, because they won’t. Not because we will be free from / fight against tyranny and continue to advance the cause of liberty around the world, because I see that screeching to a halt. But because God will be made strong in our weakness, and our dependence on Him will increase as our ability to depend on ourselves and on “the system” diminishes.

I boast now and will continue to boast then in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. In truth, He has not been my fortress the way I’d like to say He has been. I have not built my house on the Rock that is His life as I could have. And I certainly have not truly viewed Him as the pearl of great price, as He so rightfully deserves. Now, it looks like God will force my hand. He appears to be about to do with me what I have failed to do on my own all these years, and it seems I have a most unusual partner in that work… Barack Obama.

My admonition to all whose life is hidden in Christ (including to myself)… “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [anything or anybody], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

And so it begins.

Advertisements

About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
This entry was posted in News, Politics and Culture, Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Difficult Confidence

  1. saramason says:

    Thanks, Jeff, very well said. Sara

    Like

  2. Chris Miller says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, JB. As always, you have great insight grasshopper. For the sake of discussion, a couple reactions on my part.

    First, I absolutely agree with your assessment of Obama and the net conclusion of a tougher life for us all when he starts implementing his ideology. I give him the benefit of the doubt in that I think he probably does want what he believes to be best for this country. I just think the specific medicine he’s prescribing is poison, despite his good intentions. I also admire the hope he’s inspired in so many, but hope alone won’t be enough to lead this country.

    I also agree with your observation that our faith in / dependence on God operates inversely to how well our lives are humming along. I’m sorry to say that that’s been my own personal experience, though I wish it wasn’t so.

    Where I differ with you is when you call this “a good thing.” In my mind, I consider something “good” if it’s what our heavenly father desires for us (as in ‘the Lord saw it and it was good’). I’m sure I expose the soft underbelly of my own faith in saying so, but I have a VERY hard time accepting the notion that my Lord, my father in heaven who loves me, desires this impending turmoil for me, my wife, and my innocent little daughter. Yes, it will undoubtedly cause me to turn closer to Him, but there’s a fine line between “tough love” and sickness.

    Trying to draw an analogy in my own family, I think of my relationship with my daughter. I love her deeply and desire only good things for her. I know that if she falls down and hurts herself, she’ll cry for me, I’ll come comfort her, and we’ll both feel great love for each other. But I certainly don’t WANT her to fall so I can comfort her. If she falls, I’d be sick to call it “good”, even if it does have the net effect of stengthening our bond. This is where I’ve always been horrified with the book of Job, no matter how well the final chapter of the story concludes.

    Personally, I believe that the Lord, through the loaded blessing of free will, allows us to make choices that ultimately result in BAD things happening. He doesn’t want us to make the boneheaded choices we make, he knows they’ll end badly, and he in no way rejoices when we ultimately go down those paths. Making those choices doesn’t bring joy to our heavenly father and they’re not good. They do often have the net effect of forcing us to turn back to him, but I would consider that the silver lining of an ultimately bad move. It would have been so much better if we had used the brains and values he’s blessed us with and made a better decision in the first place.

    It may be splitting hairs in a casual choice of words, but for me it’s an important distinction. I’d appreciate your thoughts…

    Like

  3. Jeff Block says:

    Thank you both for posting. Great (mostly implied) questions, Chris. Here are some thoughts…

    > Analogy about how you would pick up Heather if she fell, but wouldn’t cause her to fall.

    Excellent point, but I think you have the wrong analogy. What if you had to give her medicine that would taste really awful or have terrible side effects, but it was the only way to cure her of a serious disease that would kill her? What if you had to take her to the doctor to have her arm re-broken so that it would set correctly and not be misshapen for the rest of her life? My parents did this for me when I was a child. What if you had to take her to the hospital and submit her to a painful difficult surgery as a child so that a heart condition could be repaired? Brad and Lisa just did this.

    And I will soon have to submit John to surgery on his eye which will be terrible and scary and traumatic, but is necessary to do young, so that his face develops correctly around a prosthetic.

    All of these are closer in their comparison to what God did to Job and to what I predict God will do to/for us. Keep in mind that God’s perspective is eternal. Even if it literally kills you, he would do so to give you true life, which is eternal. Temporal, temporary pain like higher taxes or a loss of freedom are nothing compared to the pearl of great price. God’s love for you gives Him an interest in your being His far more than in your being comfortable or wealthy or free from oppression and hardship. Because even if those things last your entire life here, they are but a brief mist burning off a field in the scope of eternity.

    Moving on to your next paragraph…

    God does not rejoice when you make bad choices. He rejoices when your relationship with him deepens, when you submit to Him, when you find life. God is an expert at both introducing into your life the circumstances that will bring these things about AND in bringing these things even out of the bad choices that you make. In this case, America has chosen poorly, but I believe that God will turn that poor choice into a whole series of awesome outcomes (in the eternal sense) for both His glory and the good of those who love Him, as He has promised. (All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.)

    Something else to keep in mind because I think it touches on this discussion. It’s also a very difficult truth to swallow, because the human heart is exceedingly prideful. But the truth is that God’s glory is all that matters. God has the right to selfishly order the universe to get out of it whatever he wants, even the slightest whim at all. It is a demonstration of God’s loving character, that He uses His limitless power and control over this universe to do in our lives what He does. To have given us the right to be called children of God is a gift so amazing that scholars and poets have been writing about it since the dawn of time. But God’s greatness also means that He will accomplish that purpose in ways we’ll never understand. Subsequently, it will be our choice whether or not to trust Him in the midst of such ignorance. It’s like the ant trusting the human whose finger it rests upon, only the “ratio” of human perspective to God’s perspective is far smaller than the ratio of the ant’s perspective to mine.

    > It would have been so much better if we had used the brains and values he’s blessed us with and made a better decision in the first place.

    Perhaps, but how can you/we know that for sure? When we cook a thanksgiving turkey or a good steak, it might seem on the surface that it’d be better to cook in the microwave. Faster, easier, less mess, right? But it just wouldn’t be the same. I do not have God’s knowledge to know how this meal has to be cooked. He knows more than I do. For me to dictate things like this to Him would be like the ant telling me how to cut the lawn. How the heck would he know?! The question is, do I trust God to act even when I don’t understand why He does what He does?

    For my part, I can say with confidence that God can be trusted. I’m unreserved in my faith in His promises to us. In this world, we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. God is ordering all things for my good. He will never leave or forsake me. The pearl of great price will be worth purchasing, though it will cost me all that I have. God will not allow into my life circumstances that are too much for me to handle, if I rely on Him. Through his strength, all nothing is impossible. And they go on. I believe that we can put our full weight on these promises (which in my case is considerable) and they will hold us up. This includes living in America under President Obama.

    Hope that wasn’t too preachy. You know how I am when I get rolling. 🙂 Either way, thanks so much for your thoughts and comments. I very much enjoyed responding. I hope my words were in some way valuable.

    Like

  4. Jeff,

    Bravo, brother! With all things, we as followers of Jesus should keep our eyes on the light.

    Paul had this right in his letter to the Philippians 3:12-16
    Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

    At the end of the day, we as believers, continue to put our faith and hope in THE perfect leader Jesus Christ. He guides this world and already knows its end. Be strong, continue to build your foundation and life on Jesus Christ and you will not be disappointed.

    Like

  5. saramason says:

    Did you happen to notice on the news last night that the Illinois lotto pick 3 was … 6-6-6! Rather coincidental on the first day of Obama being presidential-elect, don’t you think? We had a nervous chuckle over that one! :} lol

    Like

  6. Chris Miller says:

    For the most part I agree with you guys. I have faith that even though I believe the country is headed in a horrible direction, 180 degrees out of sync with what our founders envisioned, that it is still within the boundaries of God’s eternal plan. I take TREMENDOUS solace in that truth. This is all in God’s hands and he will use it for his glory.

    That said, where does OUR accountability come into play here? The words you’re using make it sound like God did this to us – like your analogy of giving the child bad-tasting medicine or submitting the child to a painful procedure. I absolutely agree with you that I can’t dictate to God how to run the universe nor can I completely comprehend his ways. But I do NOT accept the premise that God did this to us. I find it much more plausible that we did this to ourselves and God allowed it to happen.

    Our creator gave us another amazing gift guys: our brains. That gift grants us the ability to reason, the ability to sense right from wrong, the ability to praise God’s name as a free expression of love or the ability to spit in his face in an act of defiance. With that ability, comes the responsibility to make the right choices. Faith does NOT mean shutting our brains off. We’ve been given this beautiful gift of reason and we are ACCOUNTABLE for how responsibly we’ve used that gift. The accountability is inseparable from the gift – it’s a double-edged sword.

    To that end, I believe that God wants us to make the right choices. Do we have an eternal point of view or the ability to absolutely discern right from wrong without being deceived? No, of course not. But we do have God’s word, a love for him, a love for our fellow man, and an ability to reason – a solid base from which we can certainly make a “best guess” on our decisions. If we get it wrong, as we so often do, we’re not somehow tripping God up or fouling his eternal plan. He’s still in control. But I do believe he still wants us to get it right. I also believe that when we get it wrong, those decisions have consequences. All possible decisions we can make are not equally good. Why else would he give us free will and the ability to reason?

    A few other random thoughts:

    1. I think the question of personal accountability is central, not only to this discussion, but to the ideologies underlying the election as well. Do you believe that people should have the freedom/responsibility to make their own decisions in life, and then reap the rewards or consequences of those decisions? Or do you believe that people are sheep that need to have things done for them so they don’t risk hurting themselves?

    2. Re: the analogy of grilling a steak vs. microwaving it. An interesting analogy that again seems to parallel not only the conversation of God’s eternal plan, but also the election issues. In this election it looks like the notion of having something given to you (i.e. microwaving the steak, i.e. getting something quick/easy) has won out over the notion of expecting you to do something on your own (grilling the steak = slower gratification).

    3. I’d be interested in discussing Job with you in greater detail sometime. Probably best to do it in another venue or thread so as not to get off topic. I will say this, however: My difficulty with that book boils down to one word: “Why?” Why did God do that to Job (and in the case of Job it was clearly “doing it to Job” not merely allowing it to happen)? Your analogies of bad-tasting medicine, re-breaking a bone, or eye surgery all have clearly benevolent reasons behind them and therefore the painful actions are easily justified in our minds. Those reasons may not be clear to the child who is suffering the physical pain, but they’re there none the less. Similarly, I’m sure Job didn’t understand the “why” behind his suffering. But the book of Job isn’t told strictly from Job’s POV. We see Lucifer approach God and basically dare him to torture Job. So why’d he do it? Why didn’t he tell the devil to just buzz off? Try drawing me any kind of parallel in your own life that even comes close to rationalizing that conversation between God and Lucifer. If I came to you and said “the only reason John-John loves you is because you’ve made his life so comfortable” would your response be “oh yeah – I’ll prove you wrong by taking away his nice room, all his toys, and exposing him to some painful disease?” Of course not. Such a response would be COMPLETELY contrary to your nature and 180 degrees out of phase with your love for your son. Thus, I struggle with the same inconsistency between what I read in Job and what I understand of the character of God.

    Like

  7. Brad Bull says:

    Jeff,
    I will attempt to be concise.
    Again you imply that christianity and liberalism are mutually exclusive.
    As a christian I am happy that we will have a leader that epitomizes the best in our faith instead of the worst.
    Many also overlook the fact that we will now have a CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR who was president of the Harvard Law Review as a president.
    I have had this discussion 3 times this week, but you also appear to suffer from the inability to distiguish the difference between socialism and social welfare, which are very different things.

    1 last thought. Our economy is already in a disaster. Good luck trying to retroactively blame it on Obama.

    Like

  8. Jeff Block says:

    Brad…

    I absolutely DO NOT believe that Christianity and liberalism are mutually exclusive. I neither said that nor do I believe it, nor have I ever believed it. I think you have some kind of built-in anxiousness to read that into what I’m saying.

    As to the other points you make, you and I just see things very fundamentally differently. I am not interested in debating these points, so I won’t respond to them. If you want to get in on the substance of the topic at hand, you’re more than welcome, but as I stated, I didn’t post this to argue with liberals over the kinds of topics you mentioned.

    Chris…

    I have some kind of writer’s block going on atm. I’ve tried more than once to express my response to your comments, but nothing I write makes any sense. So, forgive the delay, but give me a few to get back to this – until I can write something that isn’t total gibberish. 🙂

    Like

  9. Chris Miller says:

    Jeff…

    I’m definitely interested in continuing the conversation, but no hurry. I’m about to be unplugged for a week, so I’ll check back in on things when I resurface from vacation.

    Sara…
    I heard those lotto numbers on the news and had more than one Christian friend mention making the same observation. Here’s hoping (and praying) it’s just a creepy coincidence…

    Like

  10. Kabari says:

    For one, the experience argument is moot. America is a business, and like any business it will fail if it’s leader doesn’t surround himself with intelligent people. Bush surrounded himself with idiots and our country failed us for eight years in a row, Obama is already surrounding himself with people who will excel in areas where he may not. If Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of state for example. To think that experience is this much of a factor is to misunderstand the actual role of the president. Look at trends in America the last 15 years; the people advancing this country in business and every other aspect are getting younger and younger.

    Also, “I believe a LOT of people of different races voted for him only because he’s black” is an incredibly ignorant thing to say and I’m really surprised you said it. For one, having a black president provides no benefit to black people over in any other race. It actually increases the amount of ignorance there is about the black community among other cultures, and further tunes the microscope on the culture itself. You seem to forget that black people, no matter what level of success, are still intensely generalized by the masses. If Barack Obama we to make a mistake it wouldn’t be known to most that it was one man, Barack Obama, making a mistake; It would immediately be classified as “black people” or “african-americans” making a mistake.

    In general, this post is an overreaction. Think about it like this: The majority of the most important people in the country over the next 10 years believe in this man. When I graduated 2 years ago I had no faith in this country whatsoever, it was run by people with ideals and pretty phrases and beliefs that people were too cowardly to act out on foot. Now we have a president who actually looks you in the eye when he speaks to you. Did you not see the WORLD WIDE affect this election had? Not only do we believe in America, the world believes in America. Check your history on the affect of consumer confidence and the global market and see if that doesn’t change your mind about Obama somehow ruining the economy.

    Lastly, for those who mentioned the 666 lotto ticket, I thought true Christians were not supposed to be superstitious? Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not Christian, religious, or superstitious at all, but I study religion colloquially and have had some interesting conversations to that regard.

    Like

  11. Brad Bull says:

    Typical “angry black man” rant…..jk
    It is wonderful to see the raw cerebral power headed for the executive. And now John Paul Stevens can finally retire….what is he like 90 now. Here’s to the hope that Alito, Thomas or Scalia will follow! Death to the Federalist Society!

    Like

  12. Jeff Block says:

    Kabari… Thanks for posting. I’m not interested in getting into a discussion about what Christians “should” be as a generalization. But I will say that I do not put any stock in the whole 666 lotto ticket thing.

    As to my statement: “I believe a LOT of people of different races voted for him only because he’s black”. Of course that’s true. I can’t believe you think it isn’t. Not everyone, but a LOT of people. I don’t think it’s a given that President Elect Obama would have won the election if he’d been white.

    Chris… I think your question is really about predestination, and although I hadn’t actually imagined this post engendering such deep theological discussion, I’m all about it. So, I think I’ll post a full blog entry on the topic, and see where that goes.

    Like

  13. Pingback: A Discussion on Predestination « Jeff Block’s Personal Idea Fountain

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s