The President said recently that he was a Christian by choice rather than by heritage and culture.
Now I know that this will set some of my good friends on fire, because they wonder how you can have some of the policies this President has and still be a Christian. But when I read the NY Times report (excerpted below) President Obama says the same thing that most Christians are supposed to say. Or actually he says it better. He's not talking about heaven and hell, good works or abominations but about personal sinfulness, God’s grace, caring for others and salvation. Sounds like he’s talking about my Jesus.
Here’s some of what the NYT says:
But the religion question was perhaps the most revealing for the president – and also perhaps the most welcome, given that polls show that the public appears confused about his religion, with some 18 percent of Americans believing, erroneously, that he is Muslim.
“I’m a Christian by choice,” the president said. “My family, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. My mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn’t raise me in the church, so I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead. Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes and we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”
We live in a complicated world. It’s a world where Christianity is a matter of intellectually giving credence to the right things. Presidents, politics and culture seem to complicate things. You’d think following Jesus would be clear. Bill Clinton claimed to have been born again as a boy in a tent-meeting. George W. Bush claimed to have become a transformed Methodist after being an alcoholic partier. They both had their moments when we wondered, and some are still wondering.
My concern is that whether the President says it, a TV preacher says it or the guy next to me in church says it - being a Christian is more than just ticking off the right beliefs. It’s more than fast-forwarding to the bottom of a software installation and ticking “I accept.”
Being a Christian is an ongoing supernatural experience of continual transformation. Being a Christian is living supernaturally from internal motivations of love and sacrifice because the Holy Spirit is living inside us, guiding us and assisting us in living beyond ourselves and not for ourselves.
I am follower of Jesus by choice, but also by encounter. When I supernaturally encountered Jesus by the Holy Spirit in college, He changed my life, my direction, my allegiance, my motivations. Some in “one fell swoop” but most in increments of choosing and letting go. Some things almost forty years later, I still struggle with. Some things pop up like an uninvited obscene relative and I have to – by the grace and power of God – deal with them. Some things are long gone.
Honest to God Christianity moves from head to heart to hands and feet. Transformed thought to transformed motives to redemptive actions. I encounter, I believe, I act.
Living supernaturally natural in a blood and guts world is a feat only God would expect of us! But then again He supplies the ability.