I watched this documentary the other day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnaHHOMErVk . It follows the lives of former US president, Barak Obama, and three of his closest foreign policy aides during their final year in the White House. It’s a fascinating insight into what goes on in the halls of power of the most powerful nation on earth in our time.
I started following Obama way back in 2006. I read his memoirs and watched the news closely as his run to the presidency gathered momentum. He struck me as someone who was different. Though he was on the Democratic side of US politics with it’s generally leftist, politically correct, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion leanings I was inspired by the way he saw the world in such a positive light. He always seemed to call out what was best in people. But as I watched his presidency unfold over the years I began to feel that something, though I could not quite put my finger on it, was wrong. There was some kind of disconnect between his view of the world and reality. It led to great speeches yet poor results. Watching this documentary I was finally able to put words to what I had felt for a while.
This feeling I’ve had crystalized as I watched one of the key figures in the film, Obama’s speech writer Ben Rhodes, speak about the administration’s frustration with Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and dealing with them at the United Nations. Rhodes says, “We thought that Putin would do what was best for the Russian people. But Putin just does what’s best for Putin. It took us too long to realise that.”
What I saw in this scene and in the film in general is a naivety in Obama’s world view. He believes that really at it’s core humanity is good and the world is a kind place and that if people can just be given the chance to do the right thing they will. He also seems to blindly believe that he can change the world by working harder and thinking better, talking longer and compromising more.
As the film draws to a close it follows the election victory of Obama’s successor, Donald Trump. In the light of all the dismantling of Obama’s policies that we have watched Trump undertake since, Obama’s concluding statement of the film about the trend lines of history leading to a safer, kinder world can be seen as rather disconnected from reality.
As followers of Jesus we know that there are powers at work in our world that are not seen with the physical eye or moved with the force of a man’s will. That’s why “…Putin just does what’s best for Putin.” We live in a world at spiritual war and to live as if that war is not going on is miss reality. The only way spiritual forces can be shifted is by other spiritual forces more powerful than they. In the book of Isaiah (59: 15, 16) God cries out through the prophet, “Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor.”
In case you haven’t noticed, things are not ok on the earth. Our war is won in Jesus, yes, but the battle still rages and the eyes of God roam to and fro across the earth looking for one’s who would cry out on behalf of others. God is looking for friends, He’s looking for agreement on the earth from His people. He’s calling forth sons and daughters who would take up their true identity to bring His will on earth as it is in heaven starting in the place of prayer. Only people who truly see their weakness and the need for spiritual intervention will pray. It’s an invitation. It’s an adventure. It’s an opportunity to bring real power to bare on the crises of the world. What a privilege to hear such a call. In the place of prayer our lives truly can make a difference upon the earth.