Unity and Grace through Election 2020

Unity and Grace through Election 2020

 Election 2020 is a few hours away.  There is a part of me that feels like the nation is being pulled apart like a rubber band getting close to snapping in two. I do feel this election’s weight, but I chose to place my hope and faith in God. As we approach the election, I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the wrestling in my heart. My goal is not to have you vote the way I do but to encourage Christians to faith, grace, unity, and peace during and after the election.

It’s probably wise for you to know a little about me. I’m a 55-year-old, white, conservative Southern Baptist preacher and, thus, a follower of Jesus Christ.  I lean right in all my politics.  For some, not nearly far enough right, and for others much too far to the right. I try to combine my political stances with grace and mercy for all people. I am unapologetically and unashamedly pro-life. I believe life begins at conception. Therefore, the baby in the mother’s womb is a person and has the right to complete personhood. But my ethic for life extends to the United States border and the nursing home down the street. All people, regardless of race and place on this earth, should be treated with respect, grace, and dignity. 

I believe in biblical marriage.  As designed by God, marriage is between a man and a woman for a lifetime.  I affirm biblical sexuality. God created man and woman, male and female.  I believe in justice and our mandate to care for the poor.  I believe in a well-funded and strong police department.  I am grateful for all the men and women of our police force.  I affirm that black lives matter but cannot affirm the movement #BLM or Antifa.  I think white supremacy is from the pits of hell and must be eradicated in America.  I am a proud American and believe we live in the greatest nation in the world.  I am grateful to all the men and women who have served and are serving in our armed services.  I am pleased the Senate affirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States. I do not approve of either party stacking the Supreme Court. 

As a Christian, I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom first and an American second. My allegiance is to Jesus Christ as the Sovereign King of the universe. I have chosen to extend grace and compassion to those who think differently than I do.  I can love a gay man and show compassion to an illegal immigrant.  I chose to do those things because God has extended so much grace and mercy to me.

I cannot vote for the Democrat ticket.  My conscience will not allow it.  There are many issues their platform holds to that I cannot support; Marriage, religious freedom, Sanctity of Life, and big government are but a few problems.  But how do I support a candidate I find so lacking morally?  Do I vote third party?  Do I not vote?  What should I do?  These are valid questions, and I know many Christians are struggling with as well.  Please pray.  Do what your conscience will allow.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your heart. Examine the Scriptures.  And by all means, vote. This election, like the last, I will vote for the party platform.  Let me also add; we must not judge a person based on how they vote. I have many good Christian friends who love Jesus very much, voting for Biden and possibly a third party.  A person’s vote is not a test of genuine faith.

Even more than my candidate winning, my heart longs to see revival in the church. I agree with Andy Stanley when he writes, “Your candidate will win or lose based on how Amerca votes. But the church wins or loses based on how Christians respond in the days that follow.” Let us respond in Christlike ways in the coming days. 

Therefore, my response will be to pray and seek God’s direction. As best I can, I will vote according to God’s guidance.  I will look and vote according to my conscience and to biblical guidelines.

  • I will act justly, love faithfulness, and will walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8).
  • With humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, I will make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3).
  • I will act wisely toward outsiders and will make the most of the time.  My speech will always be gracious and seasoned with salt. (Colossians 4:5-6).
  • I will consistently live a good life among the pagans (1 Peter 3:12), so I might be light. My light will shine, so my good deeds bring glory to God and good to others (Matthew 5:16).
  • As far as it depends on me, I will live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).

On November 4, my hope and faith will remain in God.  I will live as if I believe Jesus is King.  I will not live in fear.  I will not bring shame to God through my words or actions. You don’t have to vote like me but join me in showing grace, peace, and unity to all Americans.  May God bless our great nation.

Racism

Racism is a sin.  Racism is tearing apart the very fabric of our great nation.  I have grieved over the many racial events that have divided us. Racism has long been one of the great evils in  America.  Whether it is in the streets of cities like Minneapolis or at the border of Texas, Americans must see racism as Satanic wickedness.  America, we are better than this.  Church, we must be better than this.  

 

Every person of every color, nationality, and creed are image-bearers of God. Please note, you do not become an image-bearer at new birth; you are an image-bearer at birth. In the creation account in Genesis chapter one, we see the crowning achievement of God’s creation is man.  We are told that God “created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).  God will affirm the image-bearing truth in Genesis 9:6 “God made humans in his image.” 

As an image-bearer, we are a visible representation of an invisible God. James Montgomery Boice reminds us, as image-bearers, men and women are “God’s unique and valued companions. We are made in God’s image and are therefore valuable to God and others.”  The grand narrative of scripture teaches us that people matter to God. Therefore, people matter to us as well. 

We must understand our Christian ethic teaches us that every person from the womb to last breath is an image-bearer of God.  Therefore, a person is of great value and worth to us.  We must also understand this includes refugees and illegal aliens in America.  Every person has value and must be treated with grace and respect.  It does not matter the color of their skin or the language out of their mouths, or their position on the earth.  They have been created by God and for God.  

The goal of the Great Commission is also another great teacher as to how God views men and women.  We are commanded to “make disciples of all nations.”  The Greek word for nations is ethne, which we get our word ethnic from.  We are to make disciples of every ethnic group in the world.  Revelation 7 paints us a beautiful picture of what this looks like.  John writes, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9). Shouldn’t this be a picture of our churches?  I would think God would be pleased if First Southern Baptist was filled with people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. 

I dream of the day when our church will be standing together to worship our great God.  The day when my Hispanic friends and black American friends can join hand-in-hand and sing loudly to our Lord.  I pray that our nation can one day look inside the church to see what racial reconciliation looks like.  Lord, may we see your Kingdom grow

Let me offer you a few things for your consideration. 

  1. Racism is sin. 

We must call racism what it is.  Any time we treat another person differently, simply based on their skin color, we sin before a holy God.  We must hate anything that even remotely looks like racism. 

  1. Compassion for All 

In times like these, I’m always taken back to Matthew 9:36-37.  I believe there are three great reminders for every Christian. 

a. See the people like Jesus sees them.  Notice, verse 36 says, “When he saw the crowds…” One of our great problems is we don’t see people. Too often, when we see them, we see them unkindly and impatiently. We must learn to see people. How did Jesus see people? He saw them as “harassed and helpless.”  He saw them with compassion.  When we see the brutality against our black American brothers are we grieved inside?  When we see our Hispanic brother at the border of Mexico, is our first response anger or brokenness?  This pertains to all people. We must look upon the single divorced mom of three kids with grace.  We must look at the gay couple in our neighborhood with compassion and grace.

b. We must feel their pain.  This is so important.  It should not be a scary thing for a black man to run through the neighborhood of his city.  We must see them.  We must feel their pain.  We must understand that the refugee at the border is longing to create a better life for themselves and their children.  We must treat them with grace, value, and kindness. Jesus modeled this well for us. He had compassion for the Samaritan woman, for women in general, for children and for Samaritans.  All the people the Jews discounted, Jesus saw them, felt their pain, and ministered to them.

c. We must act.  We can no longer simply talk about this.  White Americans must be as fed up with this as anyone.  I have three black American nieces and two nephews of Hispanic descent.  I hate even the idea of my family being treated differently because of the color of their skin. The church must become a part of the solution.

3. Let us love God and love others. 

Can it be that simple?  Scripture is clear. Your treatment of people is the best indicator of your love of God.  If you treat people poorly, you are loving God poorly.  You can not love God and hate others. 

This is an election year. Our Christian ethic on the sanctity of life must inform all of our decisions.  Therefore, the fetus in the womb is a person; the refugee at the border is a person; the black American running on the streets is a person; I am a person.  How do we balance all of these truths?  For instance, how do we keep our nation safe while showing compassion to the refugee? 

Racism is not a political issue to divide us, but a human rights issue that unites us. There are no easy answers, but I do know the solution is found only in Jesus Christ. 

Before I close, let me thank the many wonderful and courageous men and women who serve in our Police Departments throughout the nation.  Over and again, we see the good they do.  Let us not judge all of them by the few who disgrace the badge.  

God loves all people. Here is a good test for many of us white people.  Did the kneeling on George Floyd’s neck illicit the same anger as Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling on the football field?  If not, you still have a way to go. Too many Americans were outraged when Kaepernick knelt on a football field but was not moved when the policeman knelt on the neck of George Floyd.  I pray the images of Georg Floyd’s death will finally pierce our hearts and move us toward real solutions.  I pray the church will step up and be part of this critical solution.

First Southern, let’s begin to open up conversations on the topic of racism.  We must begin the conversation but the conversation must continue well after the shock of this horrible event fades away. FSBC, with God’s help, may we become a great church with a multi-generational and multi-ethnic outreach.  May God be praised in our dealing with His image-bearers.