Many years ago, there was a district with an unfaithful District President. He also had the misfortune to be wildly unpopular in the district. For the first time in many years, it looked as if the district could elect a faithful President. A pastor was nominated. Others eagerly campaigned for him. He warned them not to speak negatively against the current President. They could support him, speak favorably about him. But, he believed the 8th commandment forbade public ridicule of a man in office.
To be clear, they didn’t need half-f0rmed insinuations, as we are seeing in recent mailings. Neither did they make claims that were refutable by the Board of Directors of Preasidium of the district. There were clear cases of misconduct and false teaching. Congregations were being specifically and identifiably harmed. The temptation was too great. The well-meaning pastors went negative. Removing the man would be good for the entire church.
But not this way. At the convention, where he was almost certain to displace the District President, this pastor stood up, renounced the negative tactics of his supporters (who were his close friends), and withdrew his name from consideration. It was a shock, a terrible blow. But it was the right thing to do. Since that time, the President in question has retired, as has the pastor. The current President is a good man, as far as anyone in this world is able to be “good”. So, in the end, it worked out. But I will never forget the lesson of that district – which was not my own. I heard about it because of how odd it was. A man walking away from a position of power, because he did not want it if it could not be gained with integrity.
And I think about that incident, that pastor, that man, as I receive mailing after mailing opining about the terrible situation of our synod, and how it is the fault of one man, and how this other man will make everything better. And I wonder if the men being pushed on me worry about using such blatant violations of God’s Word to attempt to gain office in Christ’s church. They may not be doing it themselves. But I have not heard a single word in opposition to the tactics being employed. Do they think that an office, if it is gained through such sinful means on the part of so many, can be a blessing to others? Oh, don’t get me wrong, God will work all the good for those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose. But I do not that think that any office gained by such skulduggery can be a blessing to the man who gains it.
I remember that long-ago and far away pastor, who stood alone and spoke out against such things. God has richly blessed him and his district in the years since. Today I pray that, if one of these men are elected, God will not hold the sins of their supporters against the entire synod. He would be right to do it. This isn’t just a coarsening of the culture of the church. This is playing with matters of sin and judgment. It is a most dangerous game.
And, being the optimist I am, I pray that the men receiving benefit from the sins of others will renounce that sin, in godly love both for them, and for the synod that they say they hope to serve.