Obama, Nobel Prize and Grace

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Obama Nobel
Photo by CNN
 
 
 
In light of Obama’s acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, I couldn’t help but to think about a very important biblical doctrine – the doctrine of grace. I have seen the speech on the internet and I have (believe it or not) read through the transcript of his speech.

There has been some controversy regarding President Obama receiving this award. Some people argued that Obama was awarded this prize prematurely. He has just started his presidency and does not have much to show in terms of his working towards peace and human progress. Some people have said that the irony of all this is that he was awarded the prize, even days after making a decision to increase the troop surge in Afghanistan.

In his speech, he addressed some of those controversies by saying,

“I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility… And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.”

But the thing that gripped me the most was how all the controversies reinforced the human nature that says that we all should get something because we have “earned” or “deserved” it. Now, one can argue that this is the purpose or nature of “awards.” Of course, there would have been more approval if Obama accomplished something great or more significant that was “worthy” of the prize.

Nevertheless, the essence of grace is getting something that we don’t deserve. For some reason from his speech, I got this sense that Obama was humbled and thankful. He recognized that in the prestigious list of recipients of this award, he was probably on the bottom of the totem pole. Maybe when he looks in the mirror, he knows deep inside that he is “undeserving” of this award. But I am also guessing that there is something inside him that wants to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am wondering how many of us in the Church express the same attitude towards experiencing God’s grace. The more we understand that we are not deserving of anything, the more we will be able to walk in humility and gratitude. In fact, we should be conjuring up more controversies because of this scandalous grace in our lives. It has always been grace that has transformed a person’s heart – the understanding that they received something that they did not deserve. In a sense, this is what fuels a life to live for the glory of God.