Unity in the Face of Differing Opinions

The following article by Pastor Bob Russell is timely for this election season but I believe it is much more than that.  It is a perscription for how to do life in a heterogenious society where people have widely varying views and perspectives on countless issues.  As a Christian I take Scripture very seriously and am convinced that it is authoritative and true — that it is the actual Word of God speaking truth to me.  Therefore, I take it very seriously when it says:  “…if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12: 18)  While Pastor Russell’s article contains elements specific to the election it models to me an attitude that I want for myself.  Perhaps you will want the same attitude if you don’t already have it.  The article appeared first at: bob russell.org as:  Six Guidelines for Voting One Week from Tuesday.  RMF


Six Guidelines for Voting One Week from Tuesday

by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Two things continue to disturb me about the current Presidential campaign. First, like most Americans, I am deeply troubled that the two candidates are so terribly flawed. I know there has never been a perfect candidate but this campaign is overstating the case. Someone said, “America is a country where anyone can become President and this election proves it!”

Even more troubling to me is that Christian people are so divided over it. Believers are accusing one another of denying the faith and abandoning all sense of reason because they hold to a different opinion as to the proper response on voting day.

Last week I opened four emails in a row urging me to take a Godly stand on the election. Two pleaded with me to use my blog to instruct people why they should vote for Donald Trump: “It’s about the Supreme Court!” The two others insisted that any endorsement of Trump would be an offense to God and would result in evangelical Christians losing all credibility with the world. One on each side contained nasty and inflammatory language. 

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-10-20-23-amWe all wish this situation was different but it is what it is. Here are six suggestions that may help determine your vote if you’re still undecided; but more importantly I hope they will help us to, “… live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).   Do your duty – Followers of Christ should be the best citizens. Some argue, “Jesus and the Apostle Paul didn’t get entangled in government affairs.” But they lived under a dictatorship. We live in a constitutional republica unique system where we are the government. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). So don’t stay at home. Fulfill your duty and vote.

2. Face Reality – Barring supernatural intervention Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next president. I pray that God will intervene miraculously and we would somehow have a Godly leader in the White House. But excluding a miracle it’s going to be President Clinton or President Trump. Before you cast your vote for one of them or for an alternative candidate ask yourself this question: “If every Christian followed my example, what would the result be?”

3. Determine priorities – I’m not a one-issue voter but I am a priority voter. The sanctity of life, respect for the Biblical family, compassion for the poor and religious freedom take precedence over tax cuts, trade agreements, border security, foreign policy and global warming. Determine what matters most to you and evaluate the stated stance on those issues. .Personally, I can’t see how anything matters more than the life of the unborn.

4. Consider policy — Christians usually vote on character issues and rightly so. One of the reasons this election is so disappointing is that neither candidate comes close to measuring up to the moral character we look for in a president. A secondary way to approach next Tuesday’s election is to carefully examine the stated policies of the two candidates. Where do they stand on the issues that are most important to you?

5. PRACTICE UNITY! — It’s discouraging to witness how acrimonious some Christians have been toward fellow believers who disagree with them about this election. Even though the Bible instructs us to “Let your gentleness be evident to all,” ugly, demeaning rhetoric is used to attack those in the opposite camp.

Spiritual leaders are accused of being wimps, self-righteous, Pharisees, naïve, and a number of other Christian swear words. I know, I’ve been the recipient of similar criticism simply because two months ago I wrote that I would probably “hold my nose and vote for Donald Trump.”

Folks, this should not be! Let’s be mature enough to disagree in matters of opinion without being disagreeable. There’s a great old slogan, “In doctrine, unity; in opinion, liberty; in all things, charity.” Where’s the charity and liberty? The Bible says, “…if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12: 18).

My son Rusty disagrees with me on this issue. He plans to write-in a name on his ballot. And he lives in Florida where his vote matters a lot more than mine. (That’s another issue altogether.) Dr. Albert Mohler, Max Lucado and Dr. Russell Moore take a similar stance. They just can’t in good-conscience vote for Donald Trump.

On the other hand, Franklin Graham, Dr. Wayne Grudem, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. James Dobson and other notable Christian leaders are actively supporting Donald Trump. There are God-fearing, respected Christian leaders on both sides of this issue.

Obviously this is a complex decision. Right and wrong are not clearly defined, so let’s be civil and respectful to one another. Tim Keller, Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, warned Christians this past Thursday against allowing politics to divide the Church and reminded them that before anything else, “You’re Christian first.”

I’m a Christian before I’m an American. I love my son and I have profound respect for Dr. Mohler and Max Lucado. They are not mindless or self-righteous because they disagree with me. They are members of my family…and will continue to be long after the election is over.

6. Trust God’s Sovereignty. I am not a hyper-Calvinist who believes that God predestines everything that happens. I don’t agree with those who suggest that voting doesn’t matter because God pre-determines who wins anyway.

Leslie Weatherhead once pointed out there are three areas to God’s will: His intended will, His permissive will and His ultimate will. God’s ultimate will is going to be accomplished one day when every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the meantime we are living under God’s permissive will and we have freedom to choose…and we can make a difference in our world.

Regardless of who is elected President next week, let’s remember God is still on His throne and He has promised that all things will work together for good for those who love Him. We are also assured that we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for us. And when we’ve been there ten thousand years, the 2016 election will seem incredibly insignificant.

So when you walk into the voting booth a week from Tuesday, thank God you live in a country where we still have the freedom to be involved in choosing our leaders. Then ask God to guide you in your decision and follow the leading of His Spirit. Then reach out to fellow believers with whom you have disagreed and “Make every effort to keep the unity of  the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).  Then we can all rejoice together that the election season is finally over!


About ronfurg

Former naval officer, federal investigator, forensic scientist, senior executive service member and pastor. In retirement serves as volunteer and life group leader at New Life Christian Church (www.newlife4me.com). Devoted to beautiful wife, kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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