October 27, 2020

Dear Friends,

In a few days, the United States is having an election for several offices, including the Presidency. Therefore, I am going to tell you how to vote. The times demand it. I know, ABCOFLASH is supposed to be an apolitical organization. Our tax-exempt status requires that I don’t endorse anyone, but I must. Therefore, I’m telling you right here and right now: vote for God. 

Did you really expect me to take a political side? Why not? It’s easy these days to get caught up in the great political divide. Tune into MSNBC, then Fox News to see how much the country is at odds with one another. The political ads say that if the Democrats win, “we’re doomed!” Or, conversely, if the Republicans win, “It’s the end of the world!” At least we American Baptists are in the same political camp, right? Wrong. I could take a political position right now and offend half of you, at least according to one recent poll that says that American Baptists are just about equally divided between Democrat and Republican. My personal observation is that there are good Christian people that follow the familiar adage and “agree to disagree, agreeably.” If we truly are champions of truth, we will want to “argue” in the best sense, to either have our minds changed or change theirs. Most people don’t approach political discourse in this manner.   

Therefore, our country is so divided, so polarized, so “I’m right and you’re wrong,” so “my side is good and your side is evil.” Ladies and Gentlemen of the Church of Jesus Christ, I implore you: Don’t take the bait.

There is too much to be done for His Kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven!” In fact, there is so much work to be done that we cannot allow politics to eclipse our love for The Lord, and for one another, not that being involved in politics necessarily excludes God. I realize that there are times to be political. I’m just saying that we need to make sure we are keeping God first because our agenda must be His. As Abraham Lincoln said in the heat of the civil war, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”

There are times when Godly leaders must not stay silent. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King had, in my estimation, a Christ-like approach and a God-sized agenda. Back then, many thought his approach was too timid, but it was Christ-like and just what was needed to put bigotry on full display. 

It’s easy to look through the lens of history and get it right. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking; we can get it right, after the game is played. We often have 20-20 vision, in hindsight. 

So, I implore you, as much as humanly possible, be on good terms with all people, even if they vote for that “other” candidate. We must use wisdom and discernment to determine when to fight and when to heal. 

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's “Serenity Prayer” as commonly quoted is a good guideline in these times: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We need the wisdom of Christ. The Jesus that turned over the tables in the temple was the same Jesus that prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He also prayed for us, that we be one (John 17:21).

With Jesus as our example, for His sake, the sake of our country and the entire world, I ask that we work at being unified. It’s a tall order with the world, with Satan himself, conspiring to divide us. However, we know that “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). I encourage you to examine and share the “5 Tenets for Unity” labored over by our Unity Focus Group, found on pages 29-32 of our recent annual report. (It was recently mailed to each church and will soon be posted on our website.) We have been discussing them during our Friday 2:00 p.m. leadership Zoom calls (all are invited).

One of the tenets is that we love. Churches are places where we are forced to be around people that are not like us, that we don’t necessarily agree with, politically, professionally, or personally. We are commanded to love one another. Why? Because we are stronger together; because we can accomplish the most amazing things together; because we can show the world, this lost, dying, and polarized world, the true love of Christ. 

An immediate tangible thing we can do is pray. As you pray alone, with loved ones and your church family, please pray! The outcome of this election might lead to massive unrest and personal emotional upheaval. Let’s pray for unity so that we can be the example to others, demonstrating the love of Christ.

For now, we can follow the Word of God to King Solomon found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. After the earthly king finished building the temple, God appeared to him and admonished him that in the event of a drought, locusts, or a plague, (and by extension to us, unrest), “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Therefore, we pray,

“Father God, we confess as a people that we have been prideful. Too often we have looked inward toward ourselves and not upward to you. We pledge to pray, to seek you, and to turn from our wicked actions and thoughts. We can do this only because of the shed blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, and it is in His name we pray. Amen.”

United in Christ with You,