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 or her congregation.
Like many churches, the congregation I pastor 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 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 has his or her own opinions. My desire as pastor, however, is to keep our congregation 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 a wonderful quote in my reading recently from Calvin Miller’s book, “The Power of Encouragement.”
He writes: “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.”
Time and time again, our congregation takes time to remember and give thanks for all of the ways that we have been blessed.
It’s important for churches keep reinforcing this principle of gratitude: We have the privilege of going through life together in our communities 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 the next U.S. 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 heed the words of Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Like most Baptist churches, one of the core values of our congregation 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 navigating through this political season requires a reaffirmation of what unifies us amid diverse views.
May our congregations affirm their unity around the only and earliest creed that Baptists should affirm: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” May we put the Kingdom of God first and foremost, even as we may struggle with differences of opinion that are important to us.
Danny Chisholm is senior pastor of University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri. A version of this article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @ChisholmDanny.