Recently, Gov. Rick Perry, R – Texas, hosted a day of fasting and prayer in my hometown of Houston. The governor asked those in attendance to pray for America and her leaders.
I am a less than silent supporter of President Barack Obama however, lately, I have become disappointed in his and the other elected officials’ inability to govern this country effectively. The Oval Office, Congress and Senate are beginning to resemble one big schoolyard with bullies on each side playing Dodgeball with bricks and waiting for the other side to “blink first”. I am an unabashed proponent of praying. Praying for our leaders can never hurt but only help them to thoughtfully, selflessly and wisely author and pass laws that add to the well-being of America and the world. I fully supported Perry in this endeavor, but I am not naïve. I understand his day of prayer was inspired by his interest in pursuing a run for the presidency. However, I would never doubt Perry’s sincerity. I’d like to believe it was a mostly genuine effort.
As with anything that mixes religion and politics, there was controversy. Picketers protested the event. There were, of course, the atheists. There were those who strongly believe in separation of church and state. There was also a young man representing the GLBT community. I remember him because he said something that stuck with me. When interviewed by a local news reporter he cited one of the reasons why he was protesting was that he didn’t think those in attendance would accept him.
I can’t pretend that there aren’t judgmental Christians or that there haven’t been many who have used the Word to further their own selfish agendas. Jesus addressed these types of individuals in Matthew 23. Men are imperfect; that is why our faith should never be placed in man but only in God. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Ps 91:2, NIV.
Sadly, there may have been some truth in the young man’s comment. However, acceptance by man should never be a Christian’s goal. Christians should never attempt to be people-pleasers. Our goal is acceptance from God. Our mission is to conduct ourselves in a way that pleases God and draws others to Him. I can only pray that one day that young man will read the Bible for his own salvation and see that God loves him. Hopefully, after realizing that God’s love is unconditional, he will lose the apprehension he feels and enter a house of worship. Unfortunately, there will always be those who judge and those who use the Bible to condemn other groups. But in his reading, the young man would understand that God is love. And when he feels rejected by any organization he will remember Heb 13:6: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
That is something all Christians should remember, whether it’s facing our own difficult circumstances or standing up for what is right in the sight of the Lord. Let’s work on our attitudes to prevent people like the young protestor from feeling as if Christianity is out of their grasps. Remember, our job is to bring people closer to God, not push them away.