"Some princes are born in palaces, some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope," reads the opening line of TIME's feature article last week on President-Elect Obama and his journey to the White House. Author Nancy Gibbs goes on, "We are the ones we've been waiting for, [Obama] liked to say, but people were waiting for him, waiting for someone to finish what a King began."
Recently I was reading through the feeding of the five thousand in John 6. As I read through a very familiar story, a miracle of loaves and fishes, I was struck by this great throng of men. They followed Jesus because they would make him king. They desired to forcefully take back the kingdom, the birthright of Israel. They believed in Jesus because they had seen signs and wonders. They had seen him heal the sick and feed the many. They craved something to hope in and saw it in Jesus.
But Jesus knew their hearts and knew that this was not the kind of kingdom that the Father had sent him to establish. The Kingdom Christ came to establish would triumphantly enter on the back of the donkey. It would be a conquest that began in a country stable, was claimed in bloodshed and was established through resurrection. The Kingdom Christ came to establish was not of the earthly realm because the earthly realm was simply too small to hold it.
Since first reading them, Nancy Gibb's words have grated on my heart. I have seen the throngs that have followed Obama and been one of their number. I believe him to be a good, intelligent and principled man, and I have great hope that he will be a wise leader for our country. But this prince "born out of imagination, out of scraps of history and hope"--this prince is a man. And to negate the miracle of the virgin birth by equating it with the rise in history of a new president, however capable he may turn out to be, is to cast our pearls before swine, is to bow our heads in worship to a false king.
We who count ourselves among the disciples of Christ must understand and boldly claim our allegiance. For our allegiance is not to a flag or a president. Our allegiance should not be held by the platforms of a specific political party. The gospel we preach is not one of democracy or capitalism. But our allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. Our allegiance is to the one Savior, the Prince of Peace and King of Kings, who offers us much more than scraps of hope. The gospel we preach is the gospel of Kingdom Come.
I believe whole-heartedly that we should offer President-Elect Obama both our support and our prayers. But I believe that our higher calling must be to offer more than scraps of hope to a nation that is so desperately in need of hope and to offer hope and healing to a world that is crying out for something more than the little that our politicians and world leaders have to offer. The crowds once came to Jesus looking for a kingdom even though they did not understand the Kingdom he came to offer. We who now understand that Kingdom, have been welcomed into it and have accepted our place in it, now have the opportunity to advance it in grace, peace, love and hope. My prayer is that we would cast off what hinders us and run with perseverance.