Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hope and the Obama Effect - What We Can Learn in Sharing the Gospel

Barack Obama continues to win primary after primary. In order for Hillary Clinton to win the democratic nomination, she would have to win Texas and Ohio at about a 60-65%. Considering that Obama's average margin of victory in the last ten contests has been 33%, this is virtually impossible. Her only hope is to get to the Democratic convention being close enough to be able to plea her case to the "super-delegates" that she would make the best candidate.

With overwhelming crowds everywhere he goes, this Clinton strategy seems doomed for failure. Barack is bringing in many, many new voters, younger voters, and independents. It seems hard to make the case that Hillary would be a better candidate in the general election, particularly when she has negatives in the 40s+. Many conversatives do not like John McCain, but Hillary would be certain to bring most of them out to vote. Some have a personal dislike of her that is so strong, it borders on hatred.

The amazing thing is, Obama and Hillary have virtually identical views on virtually every issue. If anything, she is to the right of him. Obama has been noted as one of the most consistently liberal votes in the Senate. And yet, I have not spoken with a single conservative who in any ways "hates' him. Most I know actually kind of like him, for what that is worth, despite disagreeing with him on almost every issue.

What, then, is the secret of Obama's appeal? Yes, he is a gifted speaker with good rhetoric. But it is the broad, overarching themes and tone of his speaking that so captures people. He inspires. He talks about hope. He talks about tolerance. He talks about people working together. He talks about cleaning up Washington. He talks with civility and grace. He stays positive most of the time. And even people who disagree with him are listening. Some will even vote for him, despite his positions.

What does this tell us about people today? They want to be inspired. They want to hope. They want to dream. They want civility and graciousness. I find Hillary's strategy of saying, don't be inspired. Don't be fooled. Don't hope--you can't believe him--to be fatally flawed.

The gospel message is at odds with the world. It calls people to give up their lives, their money, their selfish desires, their sinful ways, to worship a crucified Savior. It is an offensive message in many ways. But if we will inspire people, offer them hope, and speak with civility and graciousness even to those who oppose us, we may gain a hearing. We may find large numbers of people responding. We may even have people who are totally opposed to God on many things coming over to Christ.

What do you think? Would the Obama type of tone and themes work with sharing Christ with people today?

6 comments:

Big Doofus said...

I think that we should just share Christ with people. Let's not get caught up in methods. Share your life. Share Christ.

Mr. E said...

The method you use depends on who you are delivering it to. Some need and can accept a good honest slap in the face about their lifestyles and behavior. Others need the softer approach.

I do agree with Big Doofus though. If you share Christ and how he personally has influenced your life and then back that up with moral behavior. It will make all the difference.

As for Obama, He's not my choice for Pres. but we could do worse. It is his method of delivery that is swaying voters, around my area of the woods, left and right.

To bad Huckabee doesn't seem to have the attention he needs to stay in the race much longer. I kinda like that guy. Not exactly sure why, other than he's not afraid to share and talk about his faith. Maybe it's because he's not one of the the guys currently screwing up Washington, D.C. right now anyway.

James said...

We should certainly share Christ with people, and certainly our methods should not come at the expense of the gospel.

Roger, how we share the gospel is a part of the message itself. (The medium is a part of the message.) We cannot say, we will not use methods. If we do this, then we end up using a particular "method" unthinkingly. But it is a method nevertheless. I can, though, understand not wanting technique to trump the message.

There is biblical precedent for alternating methods based upon the audience, as Mr. E. suggests. Paul, for instance, in Acts 17, uses the Scriptures to "prove" to the Thessalonians that Jesus was the Messiah. This was an appropriate method for this "Bible-believing" audience.

Later in the chapter, as Paul speaks to the Athenians, Paul uses a different method. He points to the altar of the unknown God, tells a basic story of creation and salvation (without using the OT), and quotes from a Greek pagan poet. This method was appropriate for this biblicially illiterate audience.

The reason why gospel meetings no longer work as they once did is because they assume a biblically literate, church going audience. The world today has changed. With it, methods must change as well, but not the focus upon Christ.

Jesus said that we should be wise as serpents and as smooth as doves. Paul said that he became all things to all people. We need to be wise in the way that we share Christ. But it is still Christ that we share.

By the way, Obama is not my choice either. I do not like most of his positions, though I find his tone refreshing.

Big Doofus said...

But it wasn't a "method" as much as it was Paul walking with Christ, knowing the scriptures and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. That's all I'm saying.

Big Doofus said...

By the way, I added you to my list of "MAN BLOGS'" Thanks for having something to offer blogdom from a male perspective.

James said...

Roger,

I'm glad to hear that I can fit into your "man blog." Much of popular Christianity focuses on themes that are important to women. Hopefully, I can share some things that will hit both of the sexes.

James