There are certain times when I’m embarrassed to be called a Christian. Not because I’m embarrassed of Christ, or the Gospel, but because I’m embarrassed by other Christians and the foolishness they do in the name of Christ. We (because I am, after all, a Christian) far too often find incorrect Biblical justification to match our selfish motivations.
Christians, and more specifically Pastors, either overlook, or fail to realize that it is their responsibility, their duty, to represent Christ here on the Earth. Unbelievers are already given plenty of reasons, from Christians mind you, not to believe in the power of Christ and His Gospel. The more Christians who act selfishly in their flesh, the fewer souls will be won into the Kingdom. Sadly, many of the reasons we give the world not to believe come from those in authority, those who should be leading by example – specifically Pastors. When one decides to hold the title of “Pastor” they’re guaranteed nothing but a stricter judgment, both from God and man. Why do I bring this up, you ask? Let me introduce you to Steven Anderson.
Steven L. Anderson pastors Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. He recently made some statements against President Barack Obama that have shocked many people. And understandably so. Anderson says, in a TV interview, “I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy, you know? And I hope it happens today.” Watch the clip for yourself:
I was initially stunned and shocked to the point that I was speechless; a rare occurrence for me. Once I processed my emotions, I thought, “I want to know why this man has these thoughts. He’s clearly not thinking with a rational or Biblical worldview. How has he come to believe that this doctrine he’s propagating to his congregation can actually be something that God would bless?” I soon enough had some piece of the puzzle.
About the origins of his feelings, the new report says, “[Anderson’s] hatred of Obama and for Bush stem from his views on abortion and the Iraq war.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong disagreeing with the President, or anyone else for that matter. Disagreement is natural and, honestly, part of what makes America great. The fact that I disagree with you should have no bearing on the level of respect I have for you. There are plenty of people in my life who I disagree with on a number of issues, but I love them just as much as those I agree with. (If all of your friends agree with you all the time, I would suggest branching out and finding some folks to have healthy disagreements with.)
For Anderson to have his opinion is one thing; that’s good and fine, perhaps bordering on harmless, but the moment he encourages his parishioners to pray for the President’s death, he moves his opinions into the realm of doctrine. I know that may seem severe, but let’s first define doctrine. Doctrine is, ”a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.” Need I say more?
Now, I have no room to judge his positions or teachings, no, I know that God will do that fine, especially in light of the fact that those in authority have a much higher responsibility than those who aren’t. The scripture in Luke 12:48, which says, “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more,” comes to mind. The greater your influence, the greater your responsibility for those over whom you have influence.
At one point in the interview, Anderson says, “there are a lot of people God hates and who we should hate,” and I will, to a certain degree, agree with him here. There are plenty of things that God hates, no doubt. They, not surprisingly, all have their root in the same thing: sin. Let’s be clear: God does not hate any person. The Bible teaches us that God loved the world so much that He gave his only begotten son to die for us, while we were still sinners. How could you sacrifice your only son for someone you hate? God has unconditional love for all mankind. What He hates is the sin that a person commits; the specific act of sinning. He has no choice but to. God’s nature is holiness and sin is in direct conflict with His holiness. For instance: God doesn’t hate homosexuals, he hates the act of homosexuality. Christians, and humans for that matter, have a hard time separating the two, but it is crucial to understand the difference.
So, just because I hate someone, does that mean that I am to pray for their downfall, their demise, or worse, their death? Absolutely not! Paul writes to the church at Rome in the book of Romans, and in chapter 12, verses 20 and 21, he give us instruction on how to respond towards those we consider our enemy, those we hate. He writes, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I could be wrong, but it doesn’t sound like Paul is saying, “Go ahead and wish, pray, and perpetrate harm on your enemy because they deserve it. They are your enemies for a reason right? Go ‘take care of them’ and everything will be ok. God will overlook it since you don’t like them.”
At the core of these issues isn’t the fact that he’s wishing death, albeit a slow, horrible, painful death, on someone. Nor is it the fact that he disagrees with the government; that’s the reason we have democracy. The foundational issue that makes his statement unbiblical is found in the book of Romans. In chapter 13, Paul tells us that, “everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”
Did you read the same scripture I did? It said that, “the authorities that exist have been established by God,” right? In other words, when President Obama was sworn into office, God was fully aware of what was going on. If God didn’t have a plan for having Obama in office, he simply wouldn’t be there. A nation’s democracy will never override the sovereignty of an all-powerful God.
As Christians, it is our duty to pray for, if not the man, at the very least, the office of the President. We have absolutely no idea what kind of resistance the President comes up against on a daily basis. It’s paramount that we pray for wisdom, guidance, protection, discernment, and leadership. Let’s get over the fact that we may not agree with him in every area, on every policy, and support the office and authority that God has placed over us in the United States of America.