Pastor Max Lucado Worries About Lasting Consequences Of 2016 Campaign
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
My thanks to Lakshmi Singh for filling in for me yesterday. And let me apologize for my voice today, I'm a little under the weather. We'll start with a conversation about faith and politics. That's because this is an election season that has tested people of faith and religious leadership in ways few could have predicted. Conservative Christians in particular are facing the dilemma of whether personal conduct or policy decisions are most important.
So we turn to two faith leaders who have some things in common. For example, they both lead large churches in Texas. But they've parted ways on their approach to this election this year. First, we go to Pastor Max Lucado. He leads Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. He's also a best-selling author who has sold tens of millions of books worldwide.
With that kind of following, it's no surprise that when he wrote in a blog post earlier this year that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump fails the decency test, millions of people read it within hours. Since then, Donald Trump has become the GOP nominee and disturbing allegations about his conduct have continued to come out. So we thought we'd check back in with Pastor Lucado to see what he's thinking about now.
MAX LUCADO: I think these days, my main concern is not really with either candidate. But my main concern is with the anxiety that has settled upon the country. I'm concerned about the consequences of this 18-month conversation that seems to have just really sucked the joy out of our people. And so I believe that we've had difficulty carrying on this conversation because there is genuine fear on one side and the other that if so-and-so is elected, we're all going to hell.
The answer to that fear from a faith perspective is the presence of a good God, that we serve a good God who oversees the affairs of mankind. The Bible is full of stories of men and women who've found themselves in frightening situations but who chose to look up rather than look down - look up in faith - and God got them through it.
Now, Michel, the truth of the matter is in less than a month, we're going to have an elected president. And a lot of people are going to be very happy. A lot of people are going to be very angry. But it's time for us to begin thinking now - once we get to that point, how are we going to pull ourselves together?
MARTIN: I'm just thinking about your recent blog post where you talked about a mission trip that you took a couple of years ago to the interior of Brazil. And it was a bumpy flight. And you were not pleased.
MARTIN: And you wrote about how you kept shifting around and gripping your seat as if that would help. And then finally, the pilot had enough of you squirming around, and he looked at you and said - shouted over the airplane noise, we're not going to face anything I can't handle. You might as well trust me to fly the plane. And, you know...
LUCADO: ...(Laughter) That's exactly right.
MARTIN: And the analogy, I think, is clear for people of faith who say, you know, there is somebody flying the plane. But other people might argue that this is - what you're really saying here is give up the election cycle altogether and stay out of it. And some people don't find that an acceptable approach.
LUCADO: Yeah. Yeah.
MARTIN: Is that what you're saying?
LUCADO: Yeah, thanks for bringing that up because that's not at all what I'm saying. I think to trust in the sovereignty of God does not excuse my personal responsibility. Just the opposite - it equips me to be personally responsible. There's a great story in the Old Testament about a leader by the name of Nehemiah who was commissioned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And in the midst of the construction, he received word that surrounding nations were opposing the project and were going to attack them. And so his response was, we prayed and we set guards on the wall. We asked God for help and then we did our part. We put guards on the wall.
And that's what I'm hoping we can all do, is come together in a spirit of prayer. And for those who never pray, maybe now you will. For those of us who attempt to pray, maybe we can pray more.
MARTIN: But then that leads to the question of what is the guard on the wall? How are you guiding the people who look to you for leadership?
LUCADO: What I'm urging people to do is trust in the sovereignty of God. Examine the platforms of both parties. Examine the character of both parties. Get down on your knees. Say, Lord, help me make this decision. And then go vote. Here's the big deal - no matter who wins, God is still sovereign regardless if my preferred candidate wins or not. And by the way, I've never disclosed for whom I'm voting.
On November 7, I'm going to look at the platforms of both parties. I'm going to think hard about the character of both candidates. I'm going to get on my knees. And then when I wake up on November the 8, I'm just going to cast what I'm considering to be a informed vote.
And then I'm going to trust that our nation is good enough to weather this storm, that we're good people and that democracy is the right choice and is the greatest form of government ever created, though it's certainly flawed and certainly leads to confusion like this. I think we pray, we make a clear-headed decision, and then we quit being so mean to each other. We've got to stop that. And I'm not sure that the presidential candidates are going to model this for us.
I think it's going to come down to me being kind to my neighbor with whom I may have differing opinions, a husband being gracious to his wife who have two different opinions. We've got to realize there's something bigger than who is in the White House. And that is the spirit of camaraderie and peace that keeps our nation together.
MARTIN: That's Max Lucado. He's minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. He's also the author of many, many best-selling books. And he was kind enough to join us from Oak Hills Church. Pastor Lucado, thanks so much for speaking with us once again.
LUCADO: Well, you're very, very kind. I appreciate it. And we will get through this. We will. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.