Wednesday, January 21, 2009

America's Great Commission

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." - President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

In the last chapter of the book of Matthew, in the last two verses of that chapter, Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." We in the Christian faith refer to that quote as The Great Commission, the charge we have to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world and convert them to a life of salvation.

It is a daunting task, especially to those who accept the call to preach the Gospel. Yet, even as we go about our daily tasks, the work is being done. Now we have been given another commission by the 44th President of the United States.

As John F. Kennedy charged a generation of Americans to commit more to service, and FDR a generation before that told us to think big and that we have nothing to fear, Barack Obama called on this generation to engage in the hard work of making America America again. America is the land of opportunity. Where else can a man born of mixed heritage, which during FDR's and Kennedy's time, mixed marriages were against the law in some Southern states, can ascend in a period of five years to become the President of the United States. It is time to recommit ourselves to make sure that those opportunities will still be available for future Americans and that the election of a Barack Obama will not be considered an aberration.

In Obama's first speech as president, he reminded us of the dire circumstances we are facing, but with a resolve that we expect from our chosen leader, he also reminded us that we have been down this road before. Many people look at the fact that we have been a country for over two hundred years and think that is a long time. For those who truly understand world history, we know that we are a young country in the history of man.

Many nations that have had to fight colonization and had a civil war have struggled, even to this day, to have a stable government and a vibrant economy. We have both and we have the ability to be stronger, but, as the President reminded us, it is up to us. Quoting the apostle Paul, stating that we must put away childish things, we should be reminded that the petty political strategy of denigration will not move us forward.

We will have philosophical differences in the body politic, but differences are expected in intelligent, civilized societies. What is not expected, nor should be tolerated, is a discourse that diminishes and devalues the opinion of those that disagree with us. Obama picked a modern day "team of rivals" to generate an agenda to move this country forward. If we are to participate, then we must raise our level of discourse.

More importantly, we have to be engaged, we have to be involved. When speaking on Martin Luther King Day in West Point, I challenged the crowd listening to no longer accept apathy as part of their daily lives. It is going to take all of us to turn this country around, not just politically, but personally. We have to be better parents, better financial stewards, be better educated and to take better care of ourselves and the earth God gave us custodianship over.

We are going to have make sacrifices, while maintaining our quality of life. The things we give up or temper today will guarantee a greater America for our children and our children's children. During World War II, our parents and grandparents did just that, and are considered the greatest generation of Americans to ever live. If we are obedient to the commission set forth by our president on January 20th, maybe future generations of Americans will revere us in such a fashion.

If we don't, there may not be a future generation of Americans, as we define it today, at all.