President Barack Obama’s words will echo for generations as a testament of faith, hope, and love for all that choose to take seriously his challenge of re-shaping our country’s focus and identity. All Christians that listen to President Obama’s words should take his inaugural address not only as a call for America to return to greatness, but also the Church to arise and provide not only a foundation of ideals for America to stand upon but also an example of hope, belief, selfless love, and unity. Christians should take President Obama’s speech as a call to truly live out the words of our Bible. There is no greater, or more opportunistic time to truly be Christ-like. In our country’s current spirit of hope, acceptance, cooperation, unity, and a realized need to put our hands to the plow and make the world a greater place, the Christian faith has the chance to flourish and build bridges across religious lines in order to sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God. President Obama’s speech was not only littered with Christian ideas and ideals and was a challenge to every American to take their part in shaping our country around those ideals, and we have the opportunity to lead the way.
For the first time in my short history, the Church has come to a place with our country where there is a mutual dependency. Our country needs the Church to provide a loving non-threatening example of our true mission, and we need the country to believe in us once again. President Barack Obama’s Inauguration speech highlighted several areas that will hopefully help in advancing the mission of the Church and America forward.
President Obama spoke directly to nations gripped by poverty and promised, “to the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.” The Church can no longer afford to let it’s own members be it’s primary focus and responsibility. The Church must be the forerunner in the world of global responsibility. The Church must begin to be the only institution on earth that exists primarily for the benefit of her non-members. If not the world will not respect of follow her, for “the world has changed and we must change with it.”
President Obama honored our troop for “they embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.” That is a central theme of the Christian faith. There was a revolution started two thousand years ago by a radical Savior who decided and determined to love, and that revolution of love is bigger than any Christian. The Church is a part of something bigger than her, and therefore sacrifice is necessary. No longer can we embrace a self centered and privatized faith. President Obama acknowledges the fact that leaders are not the only one’s who bear the burden and hold the responsibility of our ideals, because,
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
The responsibility lies not with our pastors, clergy, or those with titles, but we must all do our part being the hands and feet of a God who cares about the orphan and the widow, who’s heart breaks over injustice and suffering. We must embody a spirit of service and sacrifice in the name of the One who is the epitome selfless love, service and sacrifice. A faith that can mobilize the Church to embody those ideals will also be the faith that attracts Muslims, Hindus, and Atheists. These people’s intellect will never be compelled to believe in our message. But their hearts will not be able to deny or ignore the spirit of love that we embody and will be inevitably drawn to it.
If one thing is true, it’s that the eyes of the entire world are upon us, “to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” President Obama has given the Church a global stage to exemplify Christ’s love not only at home but abroad. If the Church acts now in relentless and far-reaching love, the entire world will notice and respond. President Obama has opened a window of opportunity for the image of Christianity to be repainted in the true image of Jesus. Not only does America have an opportunity to reestablish her identity in the world, so does the Church.
The Church also has the opportunity to deal with the racism embedded in it’s past if it will ever lead the world in the reconciliation, peace, and unity that it desperately needs. Equality, unity, and reconciliation are not peripheral tenets of the Christian message; they are central and essential to the Christian message, yet for so long they have been pushed aside as non-essentials. President Obama has renewed the hope that all people really are created equal and celebrates this by asserting,
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace… And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
There is persistent racism towards darker-skinned people in China, Russia, Europe, India (high caste Hindus (Brahmins) associate themselves with the color "white" & the lower the caste, the darker the color associated), and the Arabic-speaking Muslim world. Now world leaders will face the most powerful nation on earth through their relationship with an African American man. President Obama’s presence will elevate the image of not only African-Americans but also all discriminated against minorities. This directly effect the world of missions, because these people groups who are treated as inferior because of the color of their skin are those people who the Church will target as mission fields. If missionaries or America Christian don’t ever deal with the prejudices they hold, how will they minister effectively to darker skinned people around the world? If the Church doesn’t heal the racism in its heart how will it eradicate the racism found around the world? If the Church cannot reconcile or unite across racial lines at home how will She promote this abroad?
If you haven't read a transcript of Obama's speech please do. READ OUR PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
While your at it watch it too...
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
The other day my friend said that it seemed so weird when people expressed they were angry, upset or confused with God. It just didn't seem like the way to relate to God.
If you approach a relationship with Jesus in any other way than you approach your relationship with any other person, than your missing it. We can all pretend like we have a relationship with God, when truly we treat God as if He's completely transcendent, totally somewhere else, and the truth is that's not a relationship. God created us human and relates to us on human terms. His desire to relate to us on human terms was so deep that He became one of us, and still is. Jesus knows what it's like to be angry, so you can get angry with Him. He knows what its like to feel disappointed, unsure and afraid. Therefore you never have to pretend like you have it all figured out, or as if everything is OK. God not only understands but has a solution.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a person, and they're mad at you but won't tell you why. Isn't that a frustrating feeling. Have you ever been in a relationship and you feel like the other person just never really expresses how they truly feel. Maybe that's what it feels like for God when we refuse to just be real, and honest with Him. He's not surprised, intimidated, or offended by any of your questions, fears, insecurities, doubts, misconceptions, or issues.
God is not the God that says we have to meet Him half-way. You don't need to get your act together before you can come to God. He's the God that comes 100% to where you are and starts a journey with you exactly where your at. There's nothing you need to achieve or fix, God only needs you to be honest about where you are. That's it...
Just because Christians don't always receive and accept people the way they are, doesn't mean that's true about God as well.
Come as you are... I bet He's waiting to hear your voice. His primary objective is not to fix your life or deal with your issues, God's primary objective is simply to have a relationship with you... no ulterior motives. You don't have to be an atheist to be far from God, being dishonest and fake is just as harmful to ANY relationship... especially yours and God's.
Posted by Manny at 5:32 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
I just got back from a MLK Day breakfast in Lynn, MA and was reminded of how great our country can be. Three high school students read essays on how Dr. King's life and legacy has affected them. As I listened to the words of teenagers a couple of years younger than me one theme rang through loud and clear. Every single teenager was filled with an undeniable sense of hope. As they spoke about MLK and Barack Obama the faith they had in our nation was evident. They spoke of America as a place of endless possibilities, as a "promised land", as a country of freedom, equality, diversity, justice, and opportunity.
Despite where you may stand politically, nobody can deny that President Obama has inspired hope, not only in the hearts of the African American, Guatemalan, and Dominican teenagers I heard speak today, but millions of young people all across this country who for the first time believe they can achieve their wildest dreams. "Yes We Can" has become more than a political campaign -- it's the chant and creed of the next generation of Americans who have the odds exponentially stacked against them.
Tomorrow will be the beginning of a long road towards a better America. I'm filled with hope not only because of Barack Obama but because the indifferent and apathetic group of African American teenagers lead by Lil' Wayne and Allen Iverson won't be the group building the America of tomorrow. That group has been transformed in one election into a collection of diverse young people chanting a message of faith and holding a message of hope in their hearts. The "Yes We Can" generation will build a better America and I'm quite happy about that and so should you.
I sat at a Martin Luther King breakfast, celebrating our country's achievement in the area of racial equality and justice, and the part that made it great is that I sat there with one of my best friends in the world -- Leslie Paul, a white female. This is not an African American achievement alone. It's an achievement of the true American dream. If you don't have something to celebrate this MLK day, then I'm afraid you've missed it! I'm celebrating the fact that not so long ago, me and Leslie wouldn't have been friends... or at least not so easily. I'm celebrating friendship, diversity, unity, and love... in the name of the One who created them.
This isn't the end... it's just the beginning!
Are you ready?
Happy MLK Day!
Congrats President Obama... couldn't make it to the inauguration, but I'll stop by the White House later this week for lunch... with Leslie
Posted by Manny at 12:34 PM
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
I don't know how many people have seen 7 pounds...if you haven't you may want to STOP READING NOW!
So all I have for everyone who reads this is a simple question.
So, this is the thing...was Will Smith's act at the end of the movie primarily an act of love and sacrifice? OR...does his act give an excuse/justify/glorify suicide?
There's two ways to see it. To someone who is struggling with depression and wants a way out does the movie encourage suicide?
Or is it a loving act of sacrifice that can be likened to Jesus' act of love...please respond and leave comments...
RESPOND AND LEAVE COMMENTS!
Posted by Manny at 5:13 PM