On "Lost People"
Ed Stetzer: You used the phrase "lost people" [in your last answer]. So talk to us a little bit about that. What is the role of the Christian, the Catholic, the Evangelical when it comes to sharing with people who are, to use a term you used a minute ago, "lost." What’s our role?
Senator Marco Rubio: We’re called to spread the gospel. Now obviously you can spread the gospel in different ways. Some of it is verbal, especially if someone is curious and asks. We should never be shy about sharing our testimony.
Oftentimes it’s just in the way we treat others. That, sometimes, is the best way to bring someone to the faith is first [and] foremost by how you treat them. [For] many people, their image of Christianity will be formed by how they interact with Christians and how Christians treat them—or how Christians behave.
I’m convinced that the growth in the early Church was significantly influenced by how the early Christians dealt with adversity and with the circumstances around them. But both the supernatural peace that the Spirit made possible in them but also in the way that they treated others.
The early church was clearly a missionary church. But it was also one that sought to heal wounds and sought to help others and was very sacrificial, and you can see in Paul’s letters where he talks about providing for the poor and taking care of widows within the church itself and sometimes, of course, beyond.
I view us all as ambassadors of the faith. Oftentimes there are many people out there that have either been disconnected—or never connected at all to their faith. Evangelizing, in many ways, is the way that you behave toward them or the way they see you conduct yourself. It’s important for all of us to do that.
It doesn’t matter what role we play in life whether you're a janitor at a school or President of the United States, or everything in between. How we conduct ourselves in every aspect of our lives should not only glorify God but be attractive to people who, perhaps at some point, may express curiosity.
Others will flat out ask you. They want to hear your testimony and understand it. But I think we all should be prepared to evangelize in our own way when that opportunity presents itself.
On Sharing the Gospel in the White House
ES: How would a "President Rubio" evangelize in his own way when that opportunity presented itself? Is it something relationally within the White House? Would it be with world leaders? Help us understand a little more.
MR: Well I think no matter what you’re called to do, you are called to use your opportunities and the gifts to bring glory to God. That doesn’t always mean sermons.
Oftentimes that just means where your priorities are, how you treat others, or how you conduct yourself. If I’m someone who is alive in the Spirit, and conduct myself in that way in everything that I do, that I somehow will be someone who's attractive to people—perhaps inspiring people’s curiosity about my faith to learn more and maybe to bring them to Christ.
But obviously the role of government is different from the role of the church. The role of a civil authority is to govern society and we’re instructed to respect our civil authority as a clear biblical mandate. As long as government is not compelling us to sin, to respect that authority.
But as a person, obviously the most important thing I need to do is to ensure that the domestic church, which is our home, is a place where I am fulfilling my role as a father and as a husband. And also that I somehow allow my faith and continue to allow my faith to influence me personally in the way I view issues and in the way I treat others.
Within that context, of course, [as President] you’re called to a very unique task—to be the leader of the free world and the most important political figure in the greatest and most powerful nation on earth. That’s a civil responsibility, which is extraordinary, and I’m not sure can be fulfilled, in my mind anyway, without each day asking for God’s guidance, direction, strength, and courage to confront whatever the day might bring.
ES: Could you see yourself articulating and sharing your faith in the gospel in the Oval Office and inviting somebody to trust and follow Christ?
MR: Sure. If the opportunity is presented where somebody asks me to share my testimony, I’d never be shy about it. I’ve never been.
Obviously as President of the United States, I’m not going to be giving Oval Office addresses on Christianity. That is not what civil authorities are called to do from that position. But, if in the course of a day or a moment, I am asked to share my faith—or given an opportunity to share my faith—with someone who wants to learn more about it, I’m more than happy to share my testimony.
ES: How would you, if you shared your testimony—not giving your whole testimony—but how would you ask them to respond to that? If they say, "Yes I want to be a Christian the way you’re a Christian," what would you tell them?
MR: It begins by accepting Christ as your Savior. My understanding [is], as I outlined before, that before Christ we couldn’t erase our sins. All the best we could do is cover them with the blood of animals. But once the new covenant between man and God came about as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, we were given this free gift of salvation.
I would also tell people that God is not some judgmental figure that just sits there and looks to condemn us. He understands our frailty. He understands our humanity, and in many ways because He became a man himself he understands the challenges of his creation. But He’s given us this gift that allows us to erase our sin, if we are accepting of that sacrifice, and to live in eternity with Him in a new world.
I would share with them that what we have here on earth is temporary, that at some point this will end. There will be a new heaven and a new earth and that we will live with our Creator for all eternity, in the way that it was supposed to be originally before man brought and introduced sin into the world. And that they have an opportunity to accept Christ into their heart and into their lives, and to begin a new life that will forever be transformed.
I would invite them to allow God to transform them. People will be shocked at what God will do with you if you abandon yourself to his plan and allow Him to shape you and mold you. It won’t always be comfortable. God will often ask us to go beyond our comfort zone.
You know parachutes don’t open if you don’t jump out of the airplane. And God can’t work with us if we don’t cooperate with His plan and allow ourselves to become instruments of His will and to allow Him to shape us and mold us. I think it will require us to accept that His plan for us may not always be our plan for ourselves. This, of course, is a challenge because it challenges our humanity and our human instinct.
Obviously in terms of what role they choose in pursuing their faith would depend on the individual. If it’s someone who has a strong tie to Catholicism, I would invite him to return to the church.... If it’s someone who has found Christ through a different setting or different denomination, I would invite them as well to come alive. I think the most important thing is to see that personal relationship with your Savior. That will not just allow you to find peace in this life, not prosperity, not comfort because that’s not what’s promised to us. But peace, true peace, and ultimately the chance at eternal life.
On a Christian President Leading a More Secular Nation
ES: What does it look like to have Senator Rubio as president, who’s obviously a devout man of faith, leading a nation that’s moving in a secular direction?
MR: Well one of the things about Christianity is it’s not something you can force upon someone. It’s something that’s a—it’s a free gift, but it has to be willingly accepted. And second is that we live in a society just like our faith teaches us of free will where people can choose to worship or not at all.
The job of civil authority is to protect that religious liberty—to protect the right of every American to worship as they see fit, and to live out the teachings of their faith and never be compelled to violate the teachings of their faith. The role of the civil authority is to protect that religious liberty so we can all have the freedoms to pursue that faith—and in my case Christianity—to grow in more fullness with it.
I think that’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. There are many parts of the world where that’s not possible. Historically, it was because you didn’t belong to the right denomination, at least the originally—the officially sanctioned one. But in some parts of the world the faith that you and I share is radical and criminal and could land you in jail or worse—cost you your life. But I think we should always be grateful for that luxury that we have in this country. And we should always be cognizant that government is not doing anything to infringe upon our rights to exercise our beliefs.