The Tone of Obama’s Address

President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

It is the evening of the inauguration. Surely the President, Vice President and their entourage are happy to have this day coming to a close.

One thing rang true for certain from the President’s address. He is not concerned about re-election. That may seem obvious by the fact that he simply cannot run for re-election but there was something more, something palpable. He seemed fed up with working so hard to say things in just the right way. He seemed empowered to move forward with his convictions. He invoked his faith and a belief that we have God-given responsibilities. He seemed reserved on one level, but reserved with the confidence that he is about to embark on what he now hopes to do with a little more maturity and experience behind him. In short, he seems ready to live what he says he believes realizing that it may not be all that popular.

If it weren’t for this being a presidential address, this sounds like a prescription of the Christian life. Speak with authority. Keeping in mind that speaking with authority does not mean being a jerk or weilding your convictions and beliefs like a club. No protest is needed at the funerals of others. Life is much more about what you are for and not what you are against. Move forward with convictions. Live out what you say you believe, even when this is exceedingly unpopular. Your faith cannot be hidden. It is the guiding force of who you are, including what you do, AND it does not prevent you from working with and for those who don’t hold the same faith traditions. (BTW, last spring an article was written detailing Obama’s explicit Christianity, despite the criticism lobbied his way. I’d be curious to see how much more it has grown this past year and into the future.) He ends speaking with authority of one who is no longer trying to prove himself. He ends asking us to find unity as a people. He ends calling all to a better life individually and corporately. He ends reminding us that all are equal. He ends just short of a sermon and with the change of just a few words, this would have sounded quite at home in pulpits across the country.

What if those of who claim Christianity worked with such conviction and focus? Perhaps the verse in Colossians would take on new meaning and change more of the way we live.

“Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not human masters” Colossians 3:23

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About Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober (PhD, Fuller Seminary) is a youth ministry veteran with ministry and teaching experience. She focuses on practical theology, urban ministry, theology & disability, and marginalized communities. She is a volunteer youth worker in her church and community, lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects and serves on the Young Life Capernaum national board. In her free time she can be found playing with her three young children, husband, and oversized dog.