The Change We Need

Eight years ago, I stayed up all night because I wanted to know who would be the next President of the United States of America.  Tonight I am staying up for entirely different reasons.

Tomorrow, a new day will bring about a new discussion in American political life.  History was made with the election of the first African American to be President of the United States–Senator Barak Obama.  I encourage you to read the exhortation offered by Justin Taylor that, as Christians, we are called upon to pray, support, and honor our leaders, especially our president, even if we have strong differences.

It is true that change is coming.  I don’t think any of us can accurately predict what that change will look like, but we can take a hard look at ourselves in America and consider what needs to change about us.  I have lived almost my entire life under what has been called “the moral majority” and “the religious right.”  Many of the men who led the charge have recently passed away, including Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy (among others).  Today, it seems that the remaining political voice of this generation is a Christian psychologist–Dr. James Dobson.

I believe we as Christians in America are at a crossroads with this election.  On the one hand, there will be the renewed commitment to recruit more culture warriors to fight the fundamentalist battles of old.  No doubt, their concerns are warranted.  Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to be voted President of the United States.  He has also advocated a pro-socialist redistribution of wealth.  The judicial system is vulnerable to liberal activism where the issues of sanctity of life, marriage, family, and the freedom of worship will certainly be challenged in the next four years.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the Obama presidency will help Christians who happen to be American to open our eyes to our syncretistic views of American Christianity.  While the fundamentalist impulse is to retreat into the ghetto, pull out the dispensationalism charts, and check the rapture ready index as a morning devotional, perhaps for the first time Christians will no longer seek to Christianize America but speak prophetically and live missionally in our growingly secular world.  Our greatest need is not to fight the battle against the culture but to fight against the battle of unbelief.  It is safe to live as functional atheists when we’ve got God in our constitution, on our coins, in the White House, but when the props are removed from us, how shall we then live?

We must learn to live as missionary citizens.

The context of American culture is drastically changing, no doubt.  We do need culture warriors–indeed, all of us need to actively stand for the values and virtues derived from our biblical worldview.  But I am convinced more than that, we need a Christianity with a gospel that is sufficient, a mission that is dominant, and a Savior who is triumphant.  Now is not the time to wallow in the cry, “Woe is America!”  Now is the time to plead with God, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Now is the time for a missionary, not a psychologist, to lead the cause of evangelicals in the 21st century American culture. We are not here to tell people, “Yes you can!” but “No you can’t, but Jesus can.”  Now is the time to take the call to be missionaries in our own world as serious as other Christians are in their equally pagan and anti-Christian culture.  It is time for the Bibles on our shelves to be the dictum of our day.  It is time we recognize once and for all that Jesus has never been draped in stars and stripes but died naked with only the blood of His brow and the spit of the soldiers for His covering.  His kingdom is not of this world.

The news and media will continue to cycle punditry and commentary about the political implications of an Obama presidency.  I can’t help but think about the personal implications as one who is not a Republican or Democrat, but a citizen of two worlds and a committed follower of one Lord–Jesus Christ.  I encourage you to do the same.  Let us not weary ourselves about the battles we face without and ignore the greater ones within.  The church will march on.  Christ will continue to save.  His mission will prevail.  His glory is our gain.  Let us not waste this election wondering what we have lost as Christians in America.  Let us look to Christ and His gospel and see what we have found.

Then, my friend, we will have change the we can believe in.
Then we will be the change.

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25 Comments on “The Change We Need”


  1. […] commend to you Kim Riddlebarger and Tim Brister's blog posts for a good perspective on Obama's election. Also, I commend the Presidential Prayer […]


  2. […] commend to you Kim Riddlebarger and Tim Brister’s blog posts for a good perspective on Obama’s election. Also, I commend the Presidential […]

  3. Jeff Says:

    Well said. I’m 3 hours behind over here on the Left coast, and hoping to sleep soon too. Let’s all get some rest, we need it to be effective missionaries.


  4. […] election thoughts Posted on November 5, 2008 by bkingr justin taylor and timmy brister make some excellent points […]


  5. […] Paintings on Obama’s win and what it means for American evangelicals.  Read the whole thing here.  Here’s a quote: On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the Obama presidency will […]

  6. Dennis Mack Says:

    Timmy, your words are appropriate as we enter this next chapter of American history. My thoughts are the same as yours that even though we do not agree with this man, He is the man for this time and as Christians we must not react in fear but with excitement and anticipation as we serve the Lord who was not caught off guard by the results of this election. Praise God for his providence as he continues to build his church for his glory.


  7. Timmy,
    “We must learn to live as missionary citizens.” Amen. We should have learned long ago and our pulpits should have extolled such action long ago. I hope the next months see pastors digg into the word and not their political trenches.

  8. Phil B Says:

    “It is safe to live as functional atheists when we’ve got God in our constitution, on our coins, in the White House, but when the props are removed from us, how shall we then live?”

    Tim, this great. My thoughts on reading it were “welcome to Europe”. People in churches I’m involved with in the UK are still coming to terms with:
    a school system that teaches Christianity alongside other religions
    the decline of the Scouts and other organisations that use church halls
    the sports clubs/shopping malls/cinemas/comfy beds that have replaced the church as the social centres.

    There are some great churches in the UK but for many older folks it’s a scary world. The church needs to learn to be the church again and look to its Lord.


  9. Thanks guys for the comments and linkage.


  10. […] Brister, on The Change We Need: On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the Obama presidency will help Christians who […]


  11. […] politlcal implications of this election.  The result is a little article I have entitled, “The Change We Need.”  Here is an excerpt: The context of American culture is drastically changing, no doubt.  […]

  12. simplemann Says:

    I think we are starting to see the results of the ineffectual Americanized gospel, but even worse than that is that most “confessing Christians” have even abandoned that, leaving the gospel behind in its entirety, seeking to put an end to sin using political means instead of Biblical ones.

    I am not saying that abortion should be legal and protected under the law in the United States. But it is. And despite all the rhetoric from any politician to the contrary, it will remain so because this country is full of sin and selfishness. It is not full of Christians. Despite what the checkbox on the questionnaires might say, the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians in America are far more like the masses that turned away from Him in John 6:66 than the few who remained in John 6:67. The vast majority of people who call themselves Christian in this country will abandon Him the moment their profession prohibits them from their heart’s true desires, which unless He has done a real work in them are rooted and selfishness and sin.

    Abortion is evil. And just like the vast majority of people in this country will call themselves Christians, so will the vast majority agree with this statement. It is evil and detestable in the sight of the Lord. It is murder. It is wrong. But it is only one of ten commandments that this selfish, sinful people break every day despite all the laws in effect under the United States justice system. And while it sounds great to trust in the law for protection, the law can only affect a change in behavior and not a change in heart. Christ and Christ alone can affect a lasting change in heart that will have profound effects on our behavior. As long as we continue to focus on the outside of the cup, the inside will remain full of filth. The allure of politics and of legislative efforts to curb sins that stem from our selfish, wicked hearts will never address the heart of sin like the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think it is time for many of us who claim His name to repent, to turn away from the world and its worldly systems, and to once again make the power of the gospel of grace more important in our battle against sin than the legal systems of men.

    I think many of us have a problem just “sitting back and doing nothing” as sin seems to overtake the world, and that is why political involvement poses such a great temptation to us. It seems better than just accepting the world on its terms, and I am sad to say that for most evangelicals it is much easier than going out and sharing the gospel with a lost world. But as “painful” and “hopeless” as it might seem at times to put your hope in the power of God instead of the systems of man-made governments, it is the only way any soul have ever come to repent, to turn from sin and trust Christ. Think of the prophets, of Moses, and more importantly our Savior Himself. Think of the Pharaohs, the Pharisees, the Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic Church prior to the Reformation. And think of men like John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, John Hus, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and John Calvin. Reflect on our roots, and those who have walked these roads long before we did. And as you consider the history of sin and salvation, ask yourself honestly if there is any real hope in a political or legal solution to sin. The only hope we have is Christ.

    As evangelists, preachers, teachers, and disciples of the gospel, I think it is time to return to our roots. May we abandon our hope in governments, in courts, in senators, and the leaders in the world. Let us remember that God is in sovereign control of all and that everything He does, He does for the purpose of His glory. Let us remember that when we see and revile the sin of this world, that He has allowed it and that He causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose. Let us remember that no man has come to power if not by His hand. Let us not to lose our hope in His eternal promise because of a temporary change in power in our government! Let us remember that even the wicked Pharoah was appointed by God for the purpose to which he was called; that is, the purpose of His glory. No sin ever beset a man, good or bad, throughout the entire redemptive history that has been laid out for us in His Holy Word that did not serve that same purpose. Let us trust in Him, above all else, that His will and His purpose is being accomplished just the way He has foreseen and foreordained, and not be troubled or anxious for anything. And let us be faithful ministers of the good news of Jesus Christ, even (and most especially) in the most troubling of times. And my friends, we here in America, do not have it that bad.

    There are men and women who give their lives for the gospel every day in places that most of us would never dream of going. Many (if not most) of us will not even give twenty minutes of our time to someone across the street that we know needs to hear it. We are much more comfortable trying to accomplish His purpose through political means than Biblical ones. We are much more comfortable condemning the sins of people we’ve never met in a public forum, than we are confronting people we know intimately in a private one. This is not the way of the Master. This is not the method or the manner or the message that we have been given. Again, I say, let us return to our roots. Let us return to Christ. And let us find our satisfaction in Him, full and complete.

    Peace & Blessings,
    Simple Mann

  13. simplemann Says:

    PS – Sorry for the long rant.

  14. Alan Cross Says:

    Timmy,

    I wrote some similar thoughts over at my blog. I think that you are exactly right. Maybe it is just the blogs that I read, but most seem to be saying similar things. Instead of seeing this as a bad thing (and there is bad involved), perhaps this could be a time of opportunity for the church to be more Christlike.

    As for me, I commit to pray for and respect President-elect Obama. Even though he was not my choice, God put him in office and I will submit to God’s leadership here.


  15. […] The Change We Need by T. Brister T. Brister Quote […]


  16. Oh Amen!
    I pray for repentance and revival in America. But until and unless that happens, I hope “In God We Trust” is taken off our coins. It is an insult to Almighty God to pretend that this is a Christian nation! Does anyone really think that God wants His Holy name on our godless nation’s mammon? People blaspheme the name of God because it is associated with this morally bankrupt nation. Have you heard the president of Iran saying, “Allah’s followers are dressed modestly, but the followers of Christ go around half naked”? He thinks that your typical American is a follower of Christ! That needs to change. Either this country needs to repent and become true followers, or it needs to stop being draped with hypocritical Christian garb.

    I like the image of “missionary citizens.” We wouldn’t dream of sending missionaries to a pagan country and telling them to force the pagans to put “In God We Trust” on their coins or make other pretensions of Christianity. We would clearly see how false and futile and dishonoring to God that would be. So why do we think that it’s our duty as American Christians to commit that same folly here?


  17. […] Timmy Brister addresses the change we need. […]


  18. You’re right, of course. Let me make a couple of observations:

    First, we shouldn’t expect that a revival in the church and good politics are supposed to be concurrent. In fact, history demonstrates that the two are generally not concurrent. When people talk about how we used to be a Christian nation, they may refer to comments made by our founders or think back to the 1950s. Even at our inception, political life was less unified than we would like to think. We were unified by our rebellion against our current government, the British Monarchy, and desired self-governance. God would have it that we had enough political leaders at the time to create a new form of government out of almost explicitly Christian presuppositions.

    However, we know in general that where we have seen benign governments, God’s people lose their contrast and conviction, and the poignancy of the gospel becomes diluted and becomes perceived as irrelevant. Therefore, it is most often through the heat of persecution that God’s people become more faithful.

    This leads me to my second point: The goal of Christians today must be to present the gospel through word and living in contrast to this fallen world. We have been called to be Holy, that is “set apart”. Functionally, this is to provide that contrast we need for the message of the gospel. We have been too quick to be identified with one political party or another and it has caused this contrast to be blurred.

    At this, when things look the bleakest for our lifestyle, we have the greatest opportunity to be salt and light as contrast to the sin which hangs on this world like a rotting corpse and darkens the minds of all people born in the shadow of the fall.

    May we make the most of that opportunity whether our government looks more like the world or more like the Kingdom of God. And if it’s ever the latter, we must keep in mind that the task is ever more difficult.

  19. Laura Says:

    Dude. GREAT post. Is there any way to get this into the hands of every Christian in America? 😉

  20. CG White Says:

    I also wish Obama were pro-life. But the evangelical movement isw notpro-llife. I commend to all followers of Jesus Ron Sider’s book, COMPLETELY PRO-LIFE. No ttrue Christian supports eitherr war, capital punishment, or abortion.

    And I resent people calling Obama socialist. Would to Godd he were! Followers of Jesus shoudl be for wealth redistribution. You should repent.

  21. Clyde Edds Says:

    Re: C G White,

    Yes, I agree with wealth redistribution and our church practices it.
    But I do not agree with wealth redistribution to those who are too lazy to work. Christianity teaches that those who don’t work, don’t eat. In my ministry I learned of a man who was physically fit came to the free clinic at he hospital and his occupation was professional stud. In other words he got girls pregnant and split their welfare check with them. I’ll never agree to give him my hard earned tax dollars. And I don’t repent of that because it’s not right.

  22. CG White Says:

    Clyde

    I agree with you! But I think that we also need to make work pay more than we need to reward investors. I think a higher tax rate at the top and a universal healthcare system would be good. I have a disability and work 2 jobs. I am a Quaker pastor and a college professor. Nobody I know has a better work ethic than me–but I think the CEO’s should have some limits–like a maximum wage–and a higher minimum wage. Expect all who can to work, but flatten the income distribution some.


  23. Change is coming to America through obama but it is not going to be the kind of change we want. It’s going to be the end of America as we know it.


  24. […] access Tim Brister’s blog click on: THE CHANGE WE NEED This entry was posted in Let God Lead and tagged 2008 elections, Barak Obama, the change we need. […]


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