Tale of Two Services.jpg

A Tale of Two Services

© CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ., October, 2017

For some, the election of President Trump was the best of times, and for others, the defeat of Hillary Clinton was the worst of times.

This was brought home to my wife and me most clearly on the first Sunday after the election on November 8, 2016, now almost a year ago.

Sadly, what we learned that morning was that the political, ideological and emotional chasm that had emerged within our nation to divide the citizens of this country was also clearly existent within the Christian body as well. A fact that may have escaped our attention had we not felt compelled that morning to attend not one, but two quite different church services, for reasons I will explain.

In the first, we were initially shocked by the opening prayer, but then, even more so, by the sermon that followed. Both served to inform us that the challenge before us all that morning was to console and attempt to comfort the many members of our "community” who had been left dismayed, troubled and even devastated by the election... a “disaster” the leaders of that church simply assumed that all rational people were having to endure. And, indeed, based on the general emotions of those sitting before them, their assumption seemed to be well founded. The overall mood in the auditorium that morning clearly resembled that of a wake.

Admittedly, I may have been a little sensitive to the grief counseling tone of it all due to fact that my wife and I had arrived that morning feeling not despair, but rather overwhelming elation. In our view, God had undeservedly reprieved America from the evil Hillary Clinton had already amply demonstrated she was capable of.

For us, it was unimaginable that there could be any doubt that her victory would have cemented her power to commit us all to a future that would not only include, but be predicated upon, among other things, the following:

  • Her complete disrespect, if not contempt, for the rule of law;
  • Her disregard of any statutory, much less constitutional, limits on her power;
  • Her continued corruption of our government in order to line her own pockets with money extorted from, among others, foreign nations, the companies seeking her permission/authorization to plunder them and any others that might be found wanting to curry her favor;
  • Her surrender, if not intentional dissolution, of our nation’s sovereignty by her continuation of the abandonment of our nation’s borders;
  • Her dilution, if not destruction, of our nation’s core values as a result of her turning a blind eye towards an unfettered influx of illegal immigrants without any regard to the need for immigrants to this country to adopt our national values via their making some minimal effort to assimilate to our culture;
  • Her appointments of leftist/liberal judges to the Supreme Court, not to mention to the lower federal courts throughout America, to further her ever more progressive agenda;
  • Her subordination of the rights bestowed by God upon all people (i.e. freedom of speech and freedom of religion) to the rights of a vocal, but favored and politically-correct, few (i.e. the LGBT and Planned Parenthood communities) that have been created from nothing more than the imagination of other like-minded progressives who just happen to wear black robes; and
  • Her federally funding and otherwise encouraging, sanctioning and promoting, if not celebrating the “right” of women to murder the unborn right up to the very moment prior to the child’s birth.

And yet, despite our being spared having to experience the harms these cultural cancers would have caused, the message in that first service was to reassure us all that, by our reliance on God, we would all somehow survive the post-election “tragedy” the pastor simply assumed we all had to be experiencing. 

For me, it was not long in to this sermon before I also felt the need for grief counseling — but not because of the election results. I was grieving because to me, the tone of this sermon made no sense.

Why were so many Christians in one room failing to see that our God had moved in the face of the impossible? We had been graced by Him with what even most secular pundits and news outlets across America were proclaiming to be nothing less than a miracle — the unforeseen defeat of a political machine by a political amateur.

And that is the reason my wife and I felt compelled that morning to attend a second service. We needed a second opinion and found ourselves glad we did. What a difference!

In summary, the second pastor that morning, like the first, also acknowledged that some in his audience may be grieving. He then apologized if any of his personal opinions on matters at issue in the election had offended anyone. That, he made clear, had not been his intent.

But then he made an important distinction. He limited his apology by pointing out that if they had been offended by his informing them of what God thought about issues like the acceptability of certain "lifestyles" and the killing of children (which, he boldly said, included those yet to be born), their problem was not with him. Their problem was with their God. And if their God had offended their sensitivities based on His Word or if the Word of God was found by some of them to be politically incorrect in today’s society — and thus embarrassing to them — that was their problem.

For that, he declared, he should not, could not, and would not apologize.

In response, the room erupted with applause. Apparently, the need for grief counseling in this pastor’s congregation was not necessary.

On the way home, I reflected. One group of Christians was grieving the election of President Trump. The other was celebrating what they acknowledged had been a miracle from God that he was elected.

Why?

Was it because the one group had chosen to stand on the word of God, whereas the other group found itself in mourning because they had chosen instead to believe in a god they had created in their own minds — a god who unsurprisingly just happened to want the world to be exactly the same as they wanted it to be?

Perhaps.

But if that is the case, it most certainly raises another question we should all want to answer.

Which of these two services should Christians find themselves wanting to attend?

If we are willing to make the effort, perhaps the correct answer to this question should be found in the Bible.

Otherwise, we could easily find ourselves worshiping with those who, wanting to have their ears tickled, only want to follow teachers who are in accord with their own desires — teachers who, for whatever reason, are willing to turn their followers’ ears away from the truth of God’s Word and encourage them instead to find comfort from their belief in a god of their own creation.

.   .   .   .   .

Mr. Nichols is a former research associate at the Heritage Foundation and presently is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico. He may be contacted at cnicholslaw.com.

.   .   .   .   .

POSTSCRIPT: Now close to a year later, the two churches described above appear to me to be remaining true to their chosen trajectories. Again, this is based on two sermons recently preached again on the same Sunday morning of October 22, 2017.

In my opinion, one is an emotional appeal intended to cloak, if not avoid, an uncomfortable politically incorrect truth presented in God's Word, while the other appears to be a passionate commitment to allow His Word to reveal to us what the truth is, no matter what.

But I would not want persuade you on this point. Instead, I submit for your consideration the following links to these sermons:

Should you find the time, I encourage you listen to both for purposes of making your own personal comparison and evaluation.

Whatever conclusions you may come to, my prayer is that God, who is the source of all wisdom and knowledge, will guide you.