Last Friday we forwarded to our church family an article written by Converge President, Scott Ridout, condemning the violence and riots that occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Since last Friday, several people in our Grace Point family courageously reached out to me to express their concerns that the Converge article could be perceived as partisan, and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to ask these individuals to “help me understand your concerns.” Through these conversations, I heard a primary concern that this article did not represent the balance for which Grace Point is typically known in its communication on current events, and so I offer these thoughts to bring balance to this conversation.
Let me first share with you the two reasons we forwarded the article:
We felt Converge had made an important statement distinguishing our Christian community from those who, while carrying symbols sacred to our faith, attacked the Capitol building and endangered the lives of others. While it is not for me to judge the hearts of these individuals, I do believe it is important to call out their actions as inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. He called us to respect the property and wellbeing of our neighbors – even those with whom we disagree. (This condemnation is equally applicable to the many riots sparked by racial tensions in 2020.) It is important for the unbelieving world to know that believers, in general, and Grace Point, in particular, in no way endorse or identify with those who perpetrate hatred or violence.
We also feel it’s important from time to time to remind our church family that we are part of an association of churches called Converge, which exists to start and strengthen churches worldwide. Forwarding articles from the president helps us stay connected with our larger network, and to understand the perspectives that are shared on a national level.
It was neither my intent nor desire to make a partisan statement with this article. Rather, the motivation was to uphold the name and mission of Christ in the eyes of those who do not yet know Him. Some of you will remember a message we studied last July:
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD.” Joshua 5:13-14 (emphasis added)
Here is one of many cases when God is not interested in taking sides as people divide into “us vs. them,” but is solely focused on making the name of Christ known so that Christ may draw all people to Himself. Grace Point has not been and under my watch will not be a church that promotes political sides. We are to promote the Great Commission of Christ as members of the army of the LORD, fighting together the darkness brought on by our spiritual enemy. The purpose of last week’s article was not to promote a political side, but to promote the purity of the cause of Christ.
Having said that, I understand that last week’s article calls out one political side without calling out the other. Because the article specifically called out our now former president, I would like to balance what was said there by stating that I have serious concerns about several policies our new president has vowed to pursue, and the impact they may have on our religious freedom. As well, I have concerns with the stance of the new administration on several social issues including abortion, which I believe to run counter to my understanding of Scripture.
In all honesty, I feel there is a lot of material to work with in calling both the Democratic and Republican platforms to account from a Scriptural standpoint. I have always made an effort to “offend everyone equally,” so to speak (when it comes to politics at least!) and I apologize that last week’s email was not balanced in that way.
In light of this incident, I commit to two practices going forward:
I will renew my vigilance to present any political views in a balanced manner, as we have done to this point.
When addressing sensitive topics like politics, when there is high potential for offense or misunderstanding, I will make sure that you hear from me or another trusted member of our own Grace Point staff rather than forwarding the thoughts of someone with whom you have little connection. You need to be able to follow up a Grace Point communication by approaching a leader you know and trust with the conversation, “help me understand.”
And there is something I hope YOU will take away from this. In the polarized culture in which we find ourselves, I want to call you to trade a posture of accusation for a posture of teachability. Resist the natural bent to judge the motives of those with whom you disagree, and instead follow the example of those brave individuals who reached out to our leadership this past week with a humble spirit of curiosity in saying, “help me understand.”
I believe strongly in the vision and mission of Converge, and I trust Scott Ridout’s desire to follow Christ and make Him known. We will continue to cultivate our relationship with Converge and share Scott’s thoughts with you again in the future. As well, we will by God’s grace communicate in such way that we do not lose the opportunity to impact our community for the Gospel by taking political stances.
I am grateful for the diversity of Grace Point – ethnically, socially, politically. As we are called by Christ to unity, let us remember that unity is not the same as uniformity. And let us embrace the fact that unity is not easy – sometimes it takes hard work. Let’s continue to do that work together, as we fix our eyes on the Author and Perfector of our faith.
For the glory of Christ, Dave Wolf Lead Pastor
…Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Our country is at a crucial crossroads, politically, socially and spiritually.
Below we have linked to a statement from the president of our church’s association, Converge, calling us as Christ-followers to unity and prayer following the events that took place last week at our nation’s Capitol.
I realize that a variety of political viewpoints are represented across our Grace Point family, and for that I am grateful because it means that we are centered on the true foundation of Christ, and not a political ideology or party. As you read these strong words from Converge president Scott Ridout, I remind you of the calling of the Church to bear the light of Christ in the world, including the responsibility to speak Biblical truth into the events of our day.
Where the Word of Christ dwells, the peace of Christ rules.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. -Colossians 3:15-16
Join together with other Grace Pointers in committing to one hour per week of focused prayer for our church and our world. This is an important way to set our hearts and minds upward (Colossians 3:1-2).
Worship God for who He is and what He has done. (Psalms 37, 100, 136, 145)
Confess your own sin, and confess on behalf of our community and country. (Psalm 51, Daniel 9)
That Grace Point will be a bright light for Christ in a dark world. That our church will keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That our country will turn back to God and honor Him. That our leaders will have wisdom to lead during this challenging season.
Pray that God’s Kingdom will come and His will be done. Pray that our hearts will be humble and obedient. (Isaiah 40, Matthew 6:10, 1 Peter 5:6-7)
As you seek to put into practice putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last (the path to JOY!) with regard to face masks, here is some further reading that captures the heart of our leadership on this topic.
This follows our July 5, 2020, message on “What Would Love Do” specifically relating to Face Masks!
“…Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression…” (Isaiah 1:17)
My heart aches for the brokenness of our world, so evident in recent days.
Mr. George Floyd’s death at the knee of an officer sworn to serve and protect is at the same time personally tragic, and also embodies a larger standoff that has existed for too many years in our country. A standoff between those in power who sometimes misuse it, and those of diminutive voice calling for justice, but being ignored.
This is a brokenness at a foundational level, that goes to the core of what it means to be human.
I have not been quick to comment on racially charged events because I honestly feel inadequate and poorly positioned to do so. I cannot empathize with the frustration experienced by my African American friends because I have not experienced what it’s like to be marginalized in the way they have. I don’t know what it’s like to be instantly dismissed, or suspected, or mistreated simply because of the color of my skin.
But I want to say to my African American friends and call us as a community of faith to say: though we may not empathize with your pain, we can care about you, stand with you, listen to you.
We can listen to what is being said through the brokenness of both peaceful and violent protests. The violence causes our hearts to ache too, because in it we see pain masked by anger, more innocent people being hurt, and the condemnation of a governmental system that has failed to provide justice equitably.
Let us join together in an apology for the times when you have been ignored while speaking in a normal tone of voice. We are sorry that you sometimes have to shout to be heard.
So, may we listen as you speak in a normal tone of voice, in the context of personal friendship. Let us weep together as you share your pain. Let us speak out on your behalf where our voices can make a difference.
It would be easy for us to write off the polarization in our country as a lost cause, but then I see Jesus confronting it head on. He chose Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot to be among His disciples. They epitomized the political polarization of their day: one pledged to overthrow the oppressive force of Rome, the other sold out to collect more revenue so that force could spread.
Jesus called these two men from polar opposite worldviews into a cadre that lived with Him in tight-knit community for three years. I wonder how many times Matthew and Simon snarled at each other, seethed at each other, avoided each other. But Jesus invited them to three years of walking together and eating together and serving together and learning together from the Master what it means to love one another.
And so, that is my prayer for our community, beginning with our church family. I want us to walk together and eat together and serve together with those who are different from us, learning from the Master what it means to love one another. THAT is what the church should look like, my friends.
Let’s lift our voices together then, first in praise to our God Who creates each and every human being in His image, with equal dignity, equal value. And then let us kneel in praise to Jesus on ground that is blessedly level at the foot of His cross – thanking Him for making His redemption from sin equally accessible to every one of us.
And after praise to our perfect God, let us join our voices in a plea for justice to Him and to our imperfect governmental leaders, on behalf of every imperfect yet valued human being. I confess I’m not entirely sure how to do that. But let us press forward in finding out, together.