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January 2021 Special Member Letter

January 8, 2021

 Dear Brethren,

This is a sad and trying period for the United States and for the world. In the midst of a pandemic that continues in much of the world, the United States held a presidential election. It was hotly contested on every side. Was it fair, was it legal, or was it a fraud? The United States as a country is being tested by this outcome, but so is our Christianity. Because of the strong feelings being exhibited all around us, it could be easy for us to fall into some of these same attitudes of anger and division, if we are not careful.

After the scenes of chaos at our nation’s capital on Wednesday, Jan. 6, the Ministerial Board of Directors and the administration of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, feel it is necessary to remind each of us that, based on biblical principles, we are adamantly opposed to becoming involved in the politics of this world. The events in Washington, D.C., are further evidence of why this is so important. Scriptures admonish us not to love this world or be a part of this world. There is nothing more “of this world” than its political systems, and they are therefore something with which we should not be associated (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Christ stated clearly, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). We are instructed that our citizenship is in heaven and not on this earth (Philippians 3:20). Because of this, we should continually check ourselves to make sure we do not fall into the divisive and quarreling attitudes we see all around us.

Christ referred to a time of religious, political and military chaos that He called “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:3-8). We are certainly witnessing such a time, but it is described as only the beginning, with a much worse period of time, known as “the end of the age,” yet to come. It is a time of sorrow, and while there may be short-term improvement if Americans can put aside their political grievances long enough to bring about a temporary calming, we still have entered a dark period. Paul described it as “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1). We hope none of us believes the answer to social conflict and political differences is for Christians to involve themselves with political parties and causes. We believe that would be a spiritually dangerous mistake.

Jesus warned, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24-25). Can anyone deny that this nation is a house divided? As the Church of God around the world, we must be opposed to the violence that accompanies so many of the current demonstrations and to the attacks against core biblical values, and we must stand for the Kingdom of God. We don’t involve ourselves in political demonstrations, and we don’t believe there is any human being who will be capable of bringing any nation to God. Prophecy confirms this fact. Only Jesus Christ will be capable of doing that. We pray for our leaders that “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Many brethren in countries around the world have witnessed political violence while living under cruel, despotic, unjust governments. With the encouragement of the Church of God, many have set an excellent example of applying Paul’s challenging words: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).

When Paul wrote those words, the governing authority was Nero—an ungodly, violent, cruel, debauched emperor.

Peter also wrote during Nero’s reign as “king”: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Over the decades, we have witnessed so many of our brethren around the world setting a wonderful example of how a Christian should react in such a climate. During these chaotic times, we encourage each of us to reflect a godly example. Worse times are ahead, and as God’s people, we must learn from these troubled times and prepare for a future when things will only get worse.

So, what is our responsibility? We should fast and pray for peace so we can preach the only message that provides hope—the gospel of the Kingdom. We should fast and pray for the Church and for ourselves, drawing closer to God so we can be enabled to stand tall and true against the wiles of Satan and not entangle ourselves in the political movements that have so divided our world. We should stand for Christ as our savior and for true Christianity as our faith.

As members of the family of God, we stand firm in our beliefs while grieving whenever there is loss of life. We are not part of the political systems of this world, nor are we part of the various political parties, whether Democrat or Republican or something else. These are all systems and parties of men in a world under the sway of Satan.

With the Passover only 12 weeks away, it is certainly time for all of us to examine our own hearts to make sure that as Christians we are following the example of Jesus Christ in spite of the chaos that is going on around us. In that process, we need to step back and see human government for what it is and remove political debates and worldly controversies from our lives. As His children, we believe God expects nothing less of each of us.

Brethren, God has given us the most glorious calling one could imagine. He refers to us as His special treasure in Malachi, and He values the part we have been given in His all-important work at this time in history. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:15, we are to be “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Jim Franks

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