Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This Changes Everything

A few years ago Dodge ran a series of commercials touting their new huge Ram truck with the tagline ‘This changes everything’. That may be how many Americans felt last night as Senator Barack Obama became the presumed presidential nominee of the Democratic party. There are a whole host of issues raised by his historic candidacy that I’m sure others will muse on until the cows come home. For starters I like what our fellow elder has done in tracing a brief historical timeline of Africans in America from the 1600’s until now.

For most this is an unprecedented historical occasion. A little more than forty years ago a man who looked exactly like Senator Obama wouldn’t have even been allowed to vote in many parts of this country let alone run for public office. Now as one who benefited from those who fought that injustice he stands on the brink of gaining the nation’s highest office.

Here are just a few thoughts on some of the potentially lasting changes that spring from Senator’s Obama’s historic run.

They begin with the country’s socio/ethnic landscape. There’s no doubt that Senator Obama’s run uncovered the lingering racism still present in America. However, the locus of that racism wasn’t found among those who identify themselves as politically conservative. Towards the end of the primary season white, working class democrats weren’t afraid to openly say that they would not vote for a black man simply on the basis that he is a black man. Yet, they might now be in the minority within the democratic party. Senator Obama has drawn many younger, well educated whites into the process and these whites are just as enthusiastic (if not more so) for Barack than his African-American supporters. And if you got a chance to watch his speech in Minneapolis last night I’m sure you noticed the authentic diversity of the crowd. Should he win in November and then subsequently in 2012 Senator Obama presidency could the most significant event in American ethnic history. I say this because Obama’s presidency could begin a process of bringing together a stronger and more lasting coalition of African-Americans and whites.

Another potential long-term change that could be effected by Senator Obama is his affect on young, white evangelicals. Unlike their parents or even older siblings it appears that young, white evangelicals could see themselves voting for this liberal democrat. The reasons for that are many, but just last night as I spoke with my son about these events he mentioned one of his school friends who comes from a solid evangelical home (his father is a pastor in a conservative evangelical denomination) is straight up for Obama.

A third change is related to the first. Most of you know that when Senator Obama began his campaign he received a less than eager response from many African-Americans. The black Civil rights establishment was solidly behind Senator Clinton and many black folks wondered out loud if Barack was black enough. It was only after his strong win in Iowa that his stock went up within the black community. And its in Obama that many African-Americans see the possibility that they, their sons and their daughters might finally feel welcome in America. For most black people this is a big deal and a subject that warrants a full discussion of its own. Suffice it to say that since the Civil Rights movement African-Americans for the most part have felt that though we were admitted we still weren’t welcome in America. Now, true integration which only recently seemed only to be a pipe dream to most black folks might appear to be a reality worth pursuing.

Finally (for now) Senator Obama’s candidacy could present some unique challenges for white evangelicals and black bible believing Christians. And trust me, if you thought (though didn’t understand) that African-American believers loved the Clintons (true, not anymore) you have no idea of the deep emotional connection they feel towards Barack Obama. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of black believers will vote for and support him with relish. However, their support will be contrasted with the disdain that many evangelicals have for him. And thus while an Obama administration might actually work toward bringing white and black non-believers into a closer more integrated relationship it might actually do the opposite for white and black believers. How can we prevent this from happening?

We can do so by remembering that ultimately our citizenship is in heaven and we serve and submit to a glorious, eternal king and not a temporary president. We can remember that despite our differences we are still one Father’s children bound to love, worship with, pray for and serve each other. We can keep in mind that many of our white evangelical brothers and sisters have grave concerns over the direction of the country and while they may not have anything personal against Senator Obama they do fear what his administration might mean for America. That said we must also keep in view that many black bible believing Christians look at Senator Obama, then look at their children and communities and see the possibility of a world different than the one they came of age in.

Dearly loved ones in Christ, before we get into the heat of a campaign in which things are said about candidates and those who support them that are unkind, unwise and ungodly let’s take a deep breath, and remember that God, not the republicans or democrats control history, this country and our destiny. His will, will be done, His kingdom will roll on and His King our living Lord Jesus Christ will reign to the very ends of the universe for the praise of His glory and His glory alone.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

1 comment:

Mike Greiner said...

Thanks, pastor Lance, for this analysis. I think you are correct in describing the challenges for evangelical Christians. However, I don't think it will make the rift bigger --it will just start a conversation that is long overdue, on both sides.

However, on the non-believing side of the aisle, I think we'll be surprised at how things might change, and not immediately for the good. As a conservative white Christian, I have seen many white liberals who, when blacks are not around, show a disdain for blacks that is shocking. In fact, I have found that conservative non-believing whites seems much LESS hateful in their views on color than many white liberals I know.

Of course, as brothers in Christ, we must bridge the gap beyond politics, as you have pointed out. I look forward to the day when even in those matters, we brothers in Christ stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and no party thinks they own the "black Christian" vote nor the "white Christian" vote.

May God bless you as you continue to do good in this world. Sanctification is indeed a whole-church process, not just an individual one.