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God’s Approval Index

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Every day, 7 days per week, Rasmussen Reports releases the results of a poll that measures what percentage of the American people approve of the way their president is performing his role. Here is a brief excerpt from yesterday’s press release: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 19% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-five percent (45%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -26.”

At the moment, President Obama is not doing well; his rating is lower than it has ever been and continues what has been a long, steady decline from the +28 and +30 that followed his inauguration. A measure of -26 means that the number of people who strongly disapprove of the job he is doing is 26% greater than the number of people who strongly approve of it. As the report points out, these numbers are beginning to approach the levels that George W. Bush experienced near the end of his second term. Things are not looking too good in the White House.

You will not be surprised to hear that there is some controversy over whether these reports really mean a whole lot. Some suggest that they display a conservative bias and are therefore not as accurate as they ought to be. But what is clear is that the polls do show general trends as reflected in this graphic:

Approval Index

I found myself thinking about this yesterday, wondering what it would be like to have someone measuring my popularity on a day-to-day basis. It cannot be fun. I do not envy the president.

I began to think about how my life would change if I was measured in this way. Would I serve my church differently if I knew the members would receive a phone call the next day, asking whether they strongly approve or strongly disapprove of me? Would I be faithful to discipline my children or make tough leadership decisions in the home if that approval index was always hanging over my head?

I’m sure I would find it very difficult to be a good leader if I was always answerable to the pollsters and if my job performance was so easily measured.

Well, it was just a short hop from there to the gospel. As I lay in bed last night, with a sick little 8-year old snoring beside me, I couldn’t let myself sleep until I thanked God that I am approved by him. When it comes to what matters most, the approval of God, there is no concern about ratings. In God’s eyes I am strongly approved every day. No matter what I do, no matter how I sin, his approval of me is perfect and unwavering. He may not approve of all that I do or all that I say or all of the ways I behave, but his approval of me, of who I am, never changes.

Why? Because I am righteous in his eyes. I have been given what theologians call an “alien righteousness” (Such a great term!). Though I am a sinful person, one who is in no way worthy of God’s approval, I have been loved by him and have been given the righteousness of Christ. When God looks at me, when he considers me, he does not see my sin and depravity. Rather, he sees Christ, the righteous one, whose perfect holiness has been given to me. Christ is there, between me and the Father, his righteousness covering up my imperfection, my unholiness. In the Son’s eyes, in the Father’s eyes, I am now and always will be approved.

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