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Do You Have to Be A Good Citizen of the World to Be A Good Christian?

December 5th, 2008 · No Comments · Kingdom of God, Politics

I have tried to lay off politics since the election is over. I have had my say and that is the way the process works. I do want to point out one video because it is not so much a Republican vs. Democrat thing and I am interested to get your response to Obama’s comments. This is the video where Obama talks about how we shouldn’t be able to run our AC, drive our SUV’s, or even eat what we want…why? Because of what the rest of the world will think about us.

Now, here is where I am torn on this comment. I am proud to be an American and I see our society as one that has advanced far enough to develop things like air conditioning and SUV’s. I also think it is kind of silly that Obama himself trucks around in SUVs all over the place and yet the populace at large shouldn’t be allowed to do so (another of many examples where he asks us to do as he says and not as he does). But that is not my point here. My point is more of a question. How concerned should we be with what the rest of the world thinks of us when it comes to the energy we consume? Aren’t we producing and purchasing the energy we supply, which in turn is a huge benefit to the nations we purchase our energy from? We hand out aid hand over fist to many countries that hate our guts and yet we are worried that they will think poorly of us because we keep our AC on 72? I think there are some larger issues here and I wonder what the Christian response to this is. Does it really change the world if I move my AC from 72 to 74? Does it really make a difference if I sell my truck to buy a Civic (ironic since we sold a civic to help pay for a SUV two years ago)? And what about the food I eat? Should I avoid seconds to better the opinion of the world in regard to the U.S.? And does the kingdom of God play into this discussion in any way, shape, or form? Does it make for a bad Christian those who drive large vehicles, eat what they want and keep their home cool? What relationship is there in being a good “citizen of the world” and being a good Christian? Last question – do these things even equate to being a good world citizen?

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  • Philip Cunningham III

    I think it’s a good thing for our President to call us to a higher standard of living. I’m not sure what this laundry list of hypocritical points are in terms of his life & what he calls America to embrace, but as a general rule, I think the American President should lead us to be better.

    BTW, the Obama’s only own one car as a family, and it is a hybrid. Any SUV’s they’ve been shuttled around in lately don’t belong to them, so they likely didn’t have full say into what was purchased.

    This election year has been an eye-opener for me because I’ve learned a lot about world issues I didn’t know about before. Recently I’ve started unplugging my cell phone charger when I’m not using it — I didn’t know this before, but those things waste a RIDICULOUS amount of energy. I just hadn’t thought of it. I turn off lights to rooms in the house that aren’t being used. I use blankets more often instead of going to the thermostat.

    I’m not going to sell my truck for a smaller car anytime soon, though. My truck is a great tool for ministry, even if it is inefficient in terms of gas mileage.

    I think it would be good for us to take an opportunity to think about this in our churches, as well. If it’s newsworthy, then it’s on people’s minds. Let’s go to Scripture & see what God says about the choices we make for our lives. To borrow someone else’s now very famous phrase, every area of our life should be purpose driven. If these national conversations open up an opportunity for us in the Kingdom of God to lead our congregations into conversations about being intentional about the choices we make with our money, then that is an opportunity I’m convinced we should seize!

    I think everyone has to make their own choices. I’m not going to judge my neighbor who owns a house, a beach-house, and 3 SUV’s. But I’m going to judge myself. Overall, I’m glad that we have a new President that’s going to challenge them to think about the choices they make.

  • K. Rex Butts

    I do think President Elect Obama has a point. Like most of us, he probably struggles to have his lifestyle match the message he is preaching.

    Where do we draw the line between having enough and having too much? Everyone who draws that line always seems to draw it so that they are included in the ‘having enough’ camp, myself included. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that for the most of us, we generally have more than we need. I don’t think it takes a great theologian to point out to Christians that having too much could seriously cripple the effectiveness of their witness, since a consuming lifestyle is drastically different from the One Christians bear witness about. Having too much is the big white elephant sitting in our midst everyday.

    So where do we start to fix the problem. I agree with Phil. I will not work to go around judging our neighbor or the brother in Christ who drives a nicer car than we do. That will only create further problems. We start by judgin ourselves and bringing about change through leadership by example.

    The irony of this is that as I write this, I do so with fears regarding my own personal circumstances. Lord come!

    -Rex

  • mattdabbs

    Philip,

    Glad to hear you are doing your part. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it basically comes down to self-examination rather than throwing stones at others. To Rex’s point, yes it can hurt our witness if we are so bogged down in worldly things that we cease to keep Christ THE priority in our lives. You could make the argument that anyone able to respond to this thread probably has too much…just because you have access to the internet, a computer, electricity, and probably even running water. I favor allowing individuals deciding to make personal changes like this and not the government regulating every aspect of our lives. I fear that Obama may well be in the second camp, which is apparently not far out of line from Washington in general these days as they seem to be wanting to regulate all kinds of things they should keep their hands off of.

  • Mark

    Here’s another statement from Obama on the same subject:

    …So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

    I don’t believe he honestly thinks 2 or 3 degrees on the thermostat makes a meaningful difference.

  • mattdabbs

    Mark,

    That is quite the link. Thanks for posting that.

  • Philip Cunningham III

    Two or three degrees on his thermostat does not one person’s house doesn’t make a difference. Yet, he actually is going to do it himself. He said in one of his recent interviews how he will talk with the WH manager about how they can strategically make the WH more energy efficient.

    I want to say one other thing. It may not be overt with political entries, but it’s certainly bubbling below the surface. There’s a lot of nit-picking going on with the President-Elect: just subtle sniping about this or that. And I can’t help but think about how all of us Christians will one day be held accountable for how we judge others:

    “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
    Matt. 7:2

    I don’t mind if I get called gullible or naive. That’s fine. But, when I’m “being discerning,” I’m willing to go to Judgment Day erring on the side of grace. I’d recommend it for you guys, too.

  • Tammie Hacker

    so is it rumor or truth that Obama is buying Michelle a new $30,000 ring for the inaguration? and that he spend more in the last few months of his campagain than McCain did in his entire campaign? Does this cutting down on spending and such apply only to the American people or does the president, congress, and senate also get included? If he’s going to be the leader, he should set the example!

  • K. Rex Butts

    Everybody wants to govern themselves while wishing the government to govern everyone else. One person want the goverment to legislate green laws and gun laws but make no laws regarding family/marriage issues, while the other side wants the goverment to legislate the whole marriage question but stay out of the economic issues and so forth. In the end it looks like everyone want the government when the government suits their cause but would like to kick the lawmakers to the curb when the legislative process interferes with their wants.

    It makes no difference what laws the government does or does not make, laws will not change hearts and until hearts change there will be no meaningful and productive change. The only way for hearts to change is for those who preach change to live out that change and show the rest why the said change is right.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  • mattdabbs

    Let me clarify a bit about doing as he says and not as he does. There are a few things that I would be interested to see. Obama and Biden have told us that we should actually pay more taxes than we owe in order to be patriotic. I would love to see where they have put that into practice on their own returns. They have called us not to drive in SUVs and yet he is having a bigger, even more gas guzzling presidential limo built to truck him around that is built on a GM 2500 frame that uses more gas than a commercial vehicle. They are calling on the auto execs to cut spending, not fly all over the place, and even take a huge cut in salary. I would love to see Obama declare he was only going to receive $1 in pay for his presidential duties. There are more but this is what comes off the top of my head. That is where I am coming from on this. Maybe my memory is wrong on every last one of these but that is how I remember it. It is hard to keep it all straight in your head when you have 2 years of campaigning to think through so hopefully I haven’t drawn false conclusions here. I do realize that if you put anyone under this kind of scrutiny over this long a period of time and you will find contradictions.

  • Mark

    Yeah. We’ll find shortcomings with absolutely anyone–politician or not–if we put them under a bright enough spotlight or a strong enough microscope. I genuinely hope Obama does well as president, but I’m unconvinced that he’s the immaculate shining beacon of hope like he’s allowed people to claim about himself. I expect him not to fulfill the vast majority of his promises; in some cases I hope he doesn’t, but in other cases I hope I’m pleasantly surprised. I don’t wish bad on either him or his family.

    I think Rex’s words are wise: my job is to watch my own actions and inconsistencies. If I have time to watch mine and several other people’s simultaneously, then I’m probably not watching my own well enough.

    As a minister, I know what it is to be nitpicked, and if you’re going to claim an important leadership role in society, it’s part of the job description. There’s a lot for which to be accountable, and a person who makes such abundant promises is inviting people to expect him to make good on them. We shall see. Hopefully we don’t cross any lines in expecting him to be a person of his word.

    Randy Harris had some good things to say about this topic a few weeks ago. He said, very simply, “There are some things of which you can be confident: 1. The world is going to be messed up. 2. No matter who the President is, he won’t be able to fix all of it. 3. God will continue to work and to bless us in surprising ways.”

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