Obama and me: a common journey

[Official White House Photo: Pete Souza]

Yesterday morning, I tuned in to watch the National Prayer Breakfast online. I managed to catch the end of author Eric Metaxas’ keynote, and then the President’s address. I’ve always resonated with President Obama’s expressions of his faith, even from when he was a Senator, and before he ran for president–from his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention to the passages in Dreams from my Father. Yesterday, he drew upon several verses that form the foundation of my own engagement in politics, advocacy, and public life:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“To those whom much is given, much will be required.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

He continued:

Treating others as you want to be treated.  Requiring much from those who have been given so much.  Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper.  Caring for the poor and those in need.  These values are old.  They can be found in many denominations and many faiths, among many believers and among many non-believers.  And they are values that have always made this country great — when we live up to them; when we don’t just give lip service to them; when we don’t just talk about them one day a year.  And they’re the ones that have defined my own faith journey.

They’re the ones that have defined my faith journey as well, which I shared when I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary. I got to be one of the speakers at Commencement, and shared a little bit of my own journey:

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Meanwhile, over at the Sojourners blog, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, former General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, shares his thoughts in a great response. Notably:

Money controls who gets elected and controls how laws and policies are made, I think, in utterly dangerous ways. More than ever, for those who gathered in prayer Thursday morning, money is power. And it’s the power of money in politics today that must be confronted — by people of faith — as a moral issue.

So I wondered (and prayed), where is the William Wilberforce of today, a leader who will take the message of the Bible to heart, rise up to confront the ways in which money enslaves our modern political life, lead a movement to end it, and then, one day, be celebrated for his or her courage and faithfulness to the gospel at a future prayer breakfast?

Even as we celebrate a common faith and shared values, we need to continue working to see these worked out in the world we inhabit.

Justin

Hong Kong | London | California | Washington, DC Christian | Theologian | Musician | Activist | Sojourner

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