In President Obama’s acceptance speech for the Nobel prize this week, we see a common illness of the church. He quoted Martin Luther King, in reference to non-violence – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” He remarked that “I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak -nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.”
And then directly went on to say “But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone…A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”
I don’t want to get bogged down by the argument about pacifism, that’s not the focus of this post. The focus, rather, is that we are led to believe Obama the individual can be separated from Obama the president. Brought into illustration in our lives, it’s to believe that (your name) the person can be separated from (your name) the (your occupation/role in the family/etc.).
“Who we are” must be who we are. Obama believes that violence toward peace is sometimes unfortunately a justified way of stopping violence. Not just Obama the president…but Obama the father, husband, and friend.
The Kingdom of God NEEDS followers of Christ who live differently (Matthew 5-7) not simply in our personal lives (as if they can be separated), but who’s work and social life also flow from and reflect such a transformation of His Spirit. I suppose this is easier said than done, and easily said from a vocation of ministry. To truly follow Christ in many jobs these days may end up with losing your job.
The Kingdom needs more people who will approach their job/school/career/place of service/professional life/etc. with the same values of Christ they’re already swallowing on Sunday mornings and with their families. The values that women aren’t objectified. The values that the “least of these” are ridiculously loved by God. That giving sacrificially is blessed. To genuinely put others before ourselves. To love our enemies, and those who make our work difficult, more than ourselves.
To live ONE identity, “Follower of Christ”, no matter where we find ourselves….may be difficult. You may not get that promotion. Might not get invited to as many drinks. You may not rank well when it comes to being “cut-throat” professionally speaking. But maybe that’s okay…