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The Church Should Rejoice that President Obama Delivered the Eulogy

Thu, Jul. 30, 2015 Posted: 02:28 PM


In the midst of the tragedy and ensuing fallout something remarkable, no, miraculous, happened in Charleston South Carolina. And it may have been largely missed by the Church. Regardless of one’s intuition about whether or not President Obama is a Christian, the Church should collectively rejoice that he delivered such an impassioned eulogy at Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s funeral. There are at least three reasons that the Church should embrace this, and all three are about the Gospel.

The first reason to rejoice is the fact that the Gospel was preached!

“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:15-18.

To Paul, preaching the Gospel was as important as life itself for he said at one time, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16b). He was also not concerned with who was doing the preaching. Writing to the Philippians he makes the case for the supremacy of the Gospel regardless of the circumstance or the motivation of the “preacher”. The tendency for many Christians is to dismiss the message because of the messenger.

How often do we hear Christians quip that because of some flaw in a preacher they will not listen to what that person has to say? We cannot hear God speaking when we are focused on natural appearance. We forget that the word of God takes on a life of its own once it is proclaimed, regardless of the proclaimer. In Isaiah 55:11, God says that His word “shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

So the Church should at least rejoice in that, and God will take care of the rest. Paul did.

The second reason to rejoice is that we have witnessed how God in His Sovereignty can use anyone and any circumstance to let people hear the Gospel message.

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…” Philippians 1:12.

The President’s remark that the killer was being used by God is striking in the face of this heinous crime. But the response of the families of the slain brings into stark contrast the difference between evil and good, and how God uses good to overcome evil. What it shows is that even though there is real evil in the world, it is not incompatible with the existence of an omnibenevolent God. It makes a strong case for the Sovereign purpose of God in allowing evil for a season to achieve His greater purpose.

In response to a CNN reporter who wanted to know how it was possible for the families of the victims to demonstrate forgiveness instead of hate for the killer, one of the victim’s granddaughter responded by saying her mother taught her that “sometimes God allows what He hates to achieve what he loves.” That was a very profound response, and it should resonate within the heart of every Christian who ever wondered why evil exists. The scripture teaches that in the end all evil will be eradicated and a new heaven and earth free from such will come.

To many skeptics that may sound like cognitive dissonance, but in reality it speaks to the transformative power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Only the power of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit in a “new creation” could make those people go against the natural instinct for retribution and express a desire for the killer’s salvation. That is Grace, as the President said, but more than that, it is the love of God manifest, and says to the world that they are Christians and this is what true Christianity looks like. What a testimony!

The third reason to rejoice, and perhaps the most exciting, is it’s quite possible that for the first time in history the Gospel was preached to so many people at one time.

Now, let’s be honest, the President’s speech was a well prepared and effectively delivered sermon. His eloquence and unmistakable preacher’s cadence could not be lost on anyone who has ever listened to a sermon in a Sunday morning church service. It is doubtful that any preacher in history has commanded as wide and as far reaching an audience for a single sermon as he did, to hear the Gospel.

The President of the United States of America publicly preached the Gospel while still in office – unprecedented!

By the mere fact that he is the President of the United States, the worldwide interest garnered by this slaughter, and combined with the historical significance, his speech was viewed by tens of millions, not just in the USA, but all around the world. It wasn't just "church people" listening, but people from every walk of life that have access to do so; people from every religious persuasion, and even those without religion. What an audience to hear the Gospel and learn about the Grace of God! What an opportunity to showcase the difference between mere religion and true Christianity! What a stage to contrast the grace, peace, forgiveness and love of Christianity with the violence and terror motivated by another major world religion!

Sometimes we miss the blessing because of our biases. God’s purpose is greater than our petty differences, and He will accomplish His will in spite of us. We should keep our eyes and our focus on that, then we will become more useful for the Gospel's sake while reaping the greater blessing of being faithful servants. What purpose can be more noble that to make God known through the preaching of the Gospel; and what reward can be greater that to see souls saved for the Kingdom? Can the Church see the hand of God in this as He used the tragedy and these nine martyrs to, who knows, perhaps save countless souls for the Kingdom? We may never know until we get to heaven, but we can say “look what the Lord has done” and “it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Preaching the Gospel to all the world is the most important mission of the Church. Can the Church in this instance lay aside our differences and collectively join Paul in saying, for sake of the Gospel, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”? I hope so, for the sake of the Church.

Note: All scriptures verses are taken from the NKJV.

Marvin Thompson