Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sweet relief on a Thursday morning

I'm just going to cut to the chase-- I watched the National Prayer Breakfast live this morning and have never felt so inspired by a president or his words.

The power of President Obama's remarks didn't come from what side of the aisle he votes on, his vision for health care, or his ethnic heritage.
The magic was in the message: he feels compelled to serve others because of his faith.

And he very clearly defined his faith-- he said point-blank that he accepted Jesus Christ about 20 years ago. That's evangelical-ese meaning 20 years ago he adopted mainstream Christian beliefs that changed his outlook on life.

Every election cycle with a new candidate raises many questions, but a recurring topic is the candidate's faith, or perhaps lack thereof. What does he worship; how will his beliefs affect policy; will the Middle East care? etc. Or in the case of President Obama, because he's a shade of brown and his mom didn't consult the book of Anglo baby names: is he a Muslim?

I liked two things in particular about the speech:

1. The president, after years of mystery, came out and said what category of "believer" he falls into.

2.  He connected faith to service and reiterated Jesus' commandment to serve each other and those less fortunate, in both cases out of love (not pity or to impress a girl).

I think, at the end of the President's time at the podium, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. He had so tactfully and eloquently explained the history of his personal faith, how he and Mrs. Obama share their faith, and that the motivation for serving in the Oval Office is, again, his faith. If anyone had questions about anything related to his faith before, they got several answers today.

Above all, Barack Obama became a human for those few minutes. To most of the world he's the leader of the free world, an unapproachable political rock star. It's hard to explain how sharing something as intimate as faith can form such a strong connection, but it does. And who doesn't want to be connected to the boss of the stars and stripes?

Bonus: my favorite tid bits from the speech.

"In the wake of failures and disappointments I’ve questioned what God had in store for me and been reminded that God’s plans for us may not always match our own short-sighted desires."

"My Christian faith then has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years. All the more so, when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time, we are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but whether we’re being true to our conscience and true to our God. 'Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.'"

"And the last recurring theme, one that binds all prayers together, is that I might walk closer with God and make that walk my first and most important task."

"And it is my faith, then, that biblical injunction to serve the least of these, that keeps me going and that keeps me from being overwhelmed. It’s faith that reminds me that despite being just one very imperfect man, I can still help whoever I can, however I can, wherever I can, for as long as I can, and that somehow God will buttress these efforts."

Read the transcript of the speech here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this just showed me that I need to get on the boat to being more conscious of what the president is going on about. Great piece Sarah!