What was the American president, Mr. Obama, like? You worked closely with the man. You were a member of his personal security detail. What opinion of him did you have?
In general, these were the questions asked by cable TV’s Tucker Carlson recently of Dan Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service Agent. Mr. Bongino said President Obama always treated him well. “He was a real gentleman; it was his policies I didn’t like.” When the president’s guard couldn’t take it any longer he made an exit. Bongino added at the end, “To answer your question, I thought President Obama was a fine man, but the world is full of fine men.”
Mr. Bongino’s statement is worth considering. In our day people prefer style over substance, smooth talk over common sense and immediate gratification over long-term solutions.
Our image-conscious society finds it harder to fault the celebrity or those pleasant to the eye than the one deemed unattractive. We may have great affection for the pastor who looks good behind the pulpit. They are sincere and preach with passion. They are judged by all as a fine person. That counts for a lot, but what if their actions or beliefs conflict with Scripture? Will we overlook the vital because of the superficial? With what criteria does God judge?
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:6-8 ESV)
Nations that elect their government leaders get what they deserve. Danger lies in attaching too much value to personality. The world is full of politicians and preachers with good looks and charm, but look at the mess we’re in. There is no premium on ugly, but it is time we, like the Lord, focus on the heart rather than outward appearance.
Winston Churchill grated on England’s ruling class. In the years prior to World War II, he was nearly “silenced for life” (a form of censure) in Britain’s Parliament. He drank incessantly and was quick with the insults. In short, he was flawed. Yet Churchill was absolutely right about Hitler and his plan for world domination. When no one else had the foresight or fortitude to sound the alarm, he did!
Britain did not need another fine, cultured gentleman during the early war years, they urgently sought someone with vision, principle, courage and the ability to inspire, so they turned to Churchill. They needed a combative person, a fighter, whose love for country and freedom was greater than his love of life.
Elijah and John the Baptist were this type. They never dressed in fancy clothes nor did they live in palaces. They weren’t applauded but hated by the authorities. No one called them fine men. John wondered out loud why Jesus wasn’t attracting more negative attention from Herod and the Jews. Prophets, including Jesus, came to upset the status quo, to expose the sham and to turn Israel back to God. That hasn’t changed.
This is no time for pastors and leaders to stick the moistened finger in the wind of popular opinion to see which way it blows. Fine men though they may be, they will not tell us what we need to hear, namely, “at any moment” the man of lawlessness is coming. He will be clever, fawned over by the media, as smooth as silk, a silver-tongued orator and a hundred times worse than Hitler. There we are. We’ve been warned.