Recently the Daily Journal published a Letter to the Editor from Sarah Thacker of Fergus Falls.
While I do not know her personally nor does she know me or our church fellowship, I wanted to write a response that hopefully leads to a future conversation in person or over the phone.
In “Speaking of Jesus”, author Carl Medearis draws on his experience of international reconciliation between Muslims and Christians to remind us of the heart of the matter: Jesus. By following Jesus, we need to move beyond “us” and “them” and simply talk about the One who changes it all. Sadly, many are ready to debate on moral positions, but they can miss out on the who gave us our morals. The one who uncovers and disarms. Who leads people right to Himself.
The label “Christian” can mean different things to different people depending on the context of where you live in the world. Personally I prefer the label of being a “Servant of Jesus Christ” which is what I have it listed first in my Bio on all of my social media profiles. Why? Not because I’m embarrassed by the conduct of others, but to better describe what I mean by being a Christian, in that I’m one that actually is serving Jesus not just in word but also in deed.
The truth is there will always be people who claim to be a Christian who are actually not and Jesus even told of this in His many parables between true and false converts (Parable of the Sower, Faithful Servant, Ten Virgins, Great Banquet, Wheat and Tares, the Net, Wise and Foolish Builders, Talents, etc.) and warned that on the Day of Judgment, many would come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord,” and He will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you worker of iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23).
There were some very broad characterizations that appear to have been written in the letter to the editor that were done in anger (as stated multiple times) and not in love. At Calvary Chapel of Fergus Falls we have made it very clear that we are not about religion but about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We also have never mentioned political parties but have prayed for every president as Scripture commands us to pray for our nation’s leaders.
I was born-again in 2005 and after being saved at the age of 21 then attended church regularly at a Calvary Chapel in California and served there for about ten years before I heard God call me to move back to my birthplace of Fergus Falls to shepherd the church the Lord is establishing. My family is dedicated to Christ and our community. We have our kids enrolled in the Public School system and also home-school, and we are dedicated foster care parents.
I was at the Fergus Falls school board meeting over the mandate of masks for pre-K through sixth-graders, not because I disagree with science, our county case rates, lack of staffing in schools due to COVID, or ICU rates in our local hospitals. Nor was I there to voice my personal freedoms or choices, or because of anger. Why was I there? As a parent of students (I love dearly) and as a pastor who had families tell me about bullying taking place.
Those that actually took the time to listen to what I said will see I did so with love and grace towards our school board.
Again, I’m not against vaccines or masks, just against the mandates to force kids to wear a mask or get the jab, as these kinds of mandates try to override the God given authority of the parents to govern the health of their children and family. The other minster present at the meeting had a different opinion, and that is completely fine. I can only speak for myself and share that love was my motive for being there. In fact I even followed up with the School Board afterwards and said the following:
I just wanted to say “thank you” to all for allowing the community discussion last week and for listening to everyone. It was very well attended and everyone was kind and respectful. By staying extra hours after the general meeting and taking notes of each presenter, it showed that each of you care about what you are doing to help our schools be committed to excellence. Also, thank you for planning to meet again this week about the mask mandate and work together for the best interest of our students, teachers, parents, and community. I appreciate each of you!
I agree with the statement in the letter to the editor that, “We are known far better for what we are against than what we are for”. And hopefully that is our words and deeds done in love and not in anger. We need to get the focus back on Jesus, not on masks or mandates. We need to read the whole Bible and care for all people. I along with others have been busy in handing out care items and food to those in our community affected by Covid and praying with them. I strongly encourage our community to keep helping people with love being the motivation, even if we don’t publicly announce our good deeds for all to see.
Both sides need to hear each other without canceling them, and both sides need to look at the many views on the mandates, not just what we want to hear. When we label others or put them down, it creates a wall that hinders further communication. I would bet we have more in agreement than we realize, and I refuse to cancel you or anyone else (even if they cancel me). So, let’s work together to make our community a better place and get the gospel message out and not allow the enemy to divide us. Thanks! PS. My contact information is listed below if you Sarah or anyone wants to talk.
Pastor & Bible Teacher
Calvary Chapel Fergus Falls
(218) 531-9349 (Call/Text)