Praise and Presidential Politics

   One of the most difficult jobs during a presidential election has to be that of a pastor.

Although noticing a number of ministers openly endorsing one candidate or another, I’ve often thought that this action could alienate members of his/her congregation.

If you haven’t noticed, our church is not uniform when it comes to political views. We don’t impose a litmus test to ensure conformity or distribute voting guides to tell our people how to vote.

This isn’t our first election cycle to go through. But, I mention this because I believe we are heading into one of the most heated and possibly most hateful presidential elections in modern history.

I have my concerns about what this can do to the body of Christ.

   Each of us have his/her own opinions. My desire as pastor, however, is to keep us focused on our task as the people of God and allow room for people with different viewpoints. This isn’t always easy, but it is Baptist.
   I came across this wonderful quote in my reading this week:
  “Why is praise so prevalent in Scripture? When praising God, our minds move away from ourselves. We quit thinking about how bad off we are. We drop our ‘poor little me-isms’ and God turns us to focus on His goodness and sovereignty” (Calvin Miller, The Power of Encouragement).
   You’ve heard it said time and again how much we have been blessed. It’s important to keep reinforcing this principle of gratitude in our church; we have the privilege of going through life together in our community of faith.
    Yes, it’s easy to become cynical these days. During these last few weeks, major political parties have held their conventions. There’s no shortage of vitriol and animosity toward others who hold different political or social positions. This will only intensify as our nation moves toward November and the election of our next president.
    It’s discouraging to see statements on social media that very few would make in person to someone else. Some have written things like, “I don’t see how you can be a Christian and be a Republican/Democrat.” Social media can devolve into a cesspool of hatred toward candidates, those who support them, and those who disagree with them. Recently I had to “unfollow” one of my Facebook friends. I just don’t need that negativity on my laptop.
    Regardless of who is elected our next president, it’s important to remember that God is still God. Let’s not go crazy or lash out on social media. We can be passionate, but when things are getting too heated, may we “be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46.10 NIV).
    One of the core values of UHBC is “the separation of church and state.” We believe in a free church in a free state. We agree to disagree without breaking fellowship with each other. Faith will necessarily intersect with politics, but we don’t all agree on how that is to happen or what that should look like. We are a tapestry of different political, social, and theological positions.
    No church is perfect. But, I am so grateful for the spirit and personality of UHBC as we navigate through this political season. As we do so, may we affirm our unity around the only and earliest creed that Baptists should affirm: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Let us put the Kingdom of God first and foremost, even as we may struggle with differences of opinion that are important to us.
   I hope you’ll join me in “keeping the main thing the main thing” through the remainder of 2016. Good things are happening in our church. I’m looking forward to kicking off the Fall, meeting new people, and serving our risen Lord. Let’s praise God for that and be open to the Holy Spirit’s leadership as we move forward, together.
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