An Open Letter to President Bush, from Johann Christoph Arnold
Dear Mr. President:
I was disappointed and frightened by your long-awaited address to the nation on Iraq. Your words will not leave one person in the entire world unaffected. Therefore, I hope you will feel my love and concern in writing. The "new course" that you propose for Iraq is flawed and will lead to disaster. It will bring more death and destruction to friends and enemies alike. Most of all, it leaves God out of the picture.
Mr. President, I respect you deeply. You are daily in my prayers. Even on TV, it is obvious how lonely you must feel, separated from your fellow Americans and from the entire international community. Yet there are millions of people who would love to help you, and pray for you, if only you would reach out to them. This is why I want to reach out to you and humbly ask that, in this moment of world crisis, you lead our nation by putting your trust in God alone and not in our military superiority.
The world is full of fear because of the events that have occurred since our country started the "War on Terror." No one has become any safer.
We cannot ignore the important lessons that are taught to us in the Old and New Testaments. For God is a jealous God. He will not let Himself be mocked. He wants our leaders to lead us in humility and compassion. When King Ahab realized that he had done wrong, he tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and fasted (1 King 21:27). When Jonah finally preached the word of God to Nineveh, the king himself rose from his throne and laid down his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. When God saw this humility, he relented from the disaster that he had planned to bring upon them (Jonah 3).
In Isaiah l:15-16, the kings of Judah are warned sternly about leaving God out of the equation:
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you. Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong.
In the same way, the words of the prophet Obadiah speak directly to this moment:
Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD. (Obadiah l: 2-4)
Mr. President, you profess to be a man of God. Show the world that the words of the prophets are still true today, and pray with us that God will not forsake our nation even in its darkest moment.
God wants to give more grace. That is why the Apostle James writes, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
As a pastor who has worked with government officials for years, I feel a special burden for your task, and would strongly desire to meet with you to discuss these matters further.
Johann Christoph Arnold (Senior Pastor, Church Communities International)