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Christ in Washington? Yes!!

When I was invited by Representative Marsha Blackburn to attend the 60th Annual National Prayer Breakfast I went from surprised, to honored, to very curious. I really had no idea what to expect from this event. Well actually I did have some expectations and I am embarrassed to admit they were pretty low. I, along with many of my peers, had come to think of Washington with a sense of cynicism. In my defense, what I have been watching lately on the debates has not done much to increase my hopes in our future.

Then I went to Washington. I thought I would hear a lot about ‘God’ in very politically correct ways. I was expecting to hear more about politics and policies that would be veiled in phrases bookended by prayers to ‘God’. What I heard and saw was amazing. I heard everyone speak about being followers of Jesus of Nazareth. I saw Republicans and Democrats stand next to each other and share about their prayer time together…prayer time lasting for some over 20 years. I sat with people who were from Uganda, Bangladesh, Nairobi, and may other places. All of them talked about wanting to live more like Jesus. In a room of over 2,000 I caught a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Sure, after years in church leadership, I have been to conferences with thousands of believers, but this was different. This was people from over 150 countries with different lives and religious backgrounds with no common link; except that we were gathered together to pray for our world and pray in the name of Jesus.

There was the Democrat who talked with honesty and conviction. He encouraged us to continue to pray for our leaders reminding me of their humanity. There was little Jacki Evanko who really does sound like an angel and I am not sure how it could go up from here for her but I am sure God still has great things in store for her. I was challenged by Erik Metaxas who was the keynote speaker and plan on buying his two biographies of Bonheoffer and Wilberforce. I was excited to hear about the wives of the leaders who arrive 3 days in advance and retreat together to fellowship and pray.

The contrast of the level of acceptance and camaraderie I felt at the conference for two days and what I was reading on Facebook as people dissected the President’s speech from both sides was sad for me. Since I saw all the speakers, I am able to view the President’s speech from a different perspective. And well, he was only 100 feet away from me so I watched his body language the whole morning. I thought he was good. Other speakers moved me more, but that doesn’t take away from his words nor do I even think it is right to worry about how ‘authentic’ he was; that is between him and God. I am pretty sure there are times in all our lives that we say and do two different things. I am pretty sure his time with Billy Graham was authentic, and if Billy is going to show him the grace of God, who am I to do otherwise J?

I realize we are our own worst enemies. I am sad to say that I have seen narrow mindedness and judgment on BOTH sides of the political fence. No one is exempt. If I learned anything this week I learned that we can spend our energy focusing on our differences and why we shouldn’t work together, or we can spend our energy encouraging one another and finding some common ground. We can either speak words that edify or words that condemn. We can either hope, or we can give up. I choose to hope.

It is really pretty simple. I was taught from my cheerleading coach over 20 years ago to only cheer positively ‘FOR’ our team, and never negatively ‘AGAINST’ another team. That really holds true for me today. You won’t find me slamming any political candidate or anyone for that matter. Nothing good comes from it. I was reminded this week that we can only create real change with love and not hate.

Instead, we can choose to look to the One who can do the impossible. We can look to the One who was and is the Great I AM. Jesus came to us and walked this earth and lived through every emotion we experience. But he also lived triumphantly. He forgave people who betrayed Him. While hanging on a cross with very little to show or promise he got a thief to believe in Him. May I focus on Him and no one else. May I choose to live under His Lordship. May I pray my neighbor does the same. May I believe God is still in control and still in the business of creating miracles. Yes Jesus is everywhere. Even in Washington.

Renee Rizzo is President and CEO of Hope Clinic for Women. She feels passionate about helping all people; especially women who have been hurt or broken, realize there IS hope, and that God has a purpose for each one of us.