Today marks a 100 day milestone in reverse. Today marks 100 days until our 58th quadrennial presidential election on November 8th. Both of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are in our rear view mirror. One need not be a prophet to predict the great divisiveness and bitterness to come over the next century of days. Our United States will not seem so united. Without doubt we are about to witness a great time of lovelessness in our conversations and feelings toward one another.
Let this not be said of us at Church Requel. Rather, let this day be the first of 100 days of love!
I know there are strong beliefs - on both sides - that if the other side should be elected, life in this country would never be the same again. I know these views are not just those outside the church, but are felt strongly by good people within our beloved Church Requel. I implore you, as your pastor, to maintain great love for one another at all times in the 100 days to come.
Some have asked me - as your pastor - to express my opinions on the debate at hand, to use my influence to influence you as to how you should vote. I will not do so. I do believe I have the right to express my political opinion, even from the pulpit, so I will not disparage other pastors who will use their authority differently than me.
However, I believe my greatest influence upon you should be the influence to live for Christ and to build His kingdom for the glory of God. I will not sacrifice that influence upon the altar of political expediency. I can win your hearts for Jesus or I can win your hearts for a political result, but I cannot do both well. The end result of my political persuasion would be a church of like-minded political believers sprinkled with a minority of resentful, hurt opponent congregants struggling with divisive thinking.
This does not mean that I will not have opinions to share from the pulpit that you may find difficult to hear. I can promise that everything I talk about will be grounded in Scripture and will be a cause for us to think twice about some views we may take as a given. The Bible often speaks against our culture and our commonly held beliefs. My job as your pastor is to compare what the Word of God says with what our society tells us. They are not the same. From either side! I pray over these next 100 days that if my sermons should offend, that they would be equal opportunity offenders.
In the meantime, how should we love one another when we have so very different views about the direction our country should go? I recommend we listen without bias and speak with respect.
We listen without bias when we focus on what another person tells us, even when their opinion is much different than our own. We listen without bias when we hear what they are saying without spending our listening attention on coming up with counter arguments. We listen without bias when we acknowledge the other person's feelings, even when our own feelings may be hurt. We listen without bias when we grant their right to their view, even when we are most certain of the rightness of our different view.
We speak with respect when we say what we mean without being mean about what we say. We speak with respect when we love the person we speak to more than we love what we speak. We speak with respect when we believe in our listener as much as we believe in our candidate.
Church Requel, I love you more than my words can convey. The only One who could love you more is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May I remind you that many in His day were most certain of their own political correctness. Yet Jesus did not respond to their divided acrimony with expected simplicity. His harshest response came upon those, who were most certain of his agreement. He surprised many others when he hardly responded to them with any harshness at all.
So, let's not be quite so sure of ourselves and of our own correctness except in one choice, the right choice, the best choice: the choice to love one another.
Enough words for this week, I think. All my love, Pastor Mark