Reflections by Jeremy Alger

Here we are at the start of 2021. I think we are all ready for a new year! I read something from Abraham Lincoln that spoke to something that has been on my mind for a few months and I think this is the perfect time on the calendar to talk about it.
In his second inaugural address Lincoln, reflecting on the Civil War, said that “God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.” He was acknowledging that both sides of the war were earnestly seeking God. Also, in his acknowledgment was the fact that God loves both sides. This concept was not originated by Lincoln. There is a song from that era that gained some fame title “God Didn’t Choose a Side.” In hindsight (with revisionist historical eyes) we may think that there was a clear “good guy” and “bad guy” in that war. But God wouldn’t see it that way.
You have heard people talk about the division in our nation today. Some folks have even hinted at the possibility of another Civil War. I recently watched a TV show that comedically quipped that England is four countries in one country. A second character replied, “That sounds a bit like America right now.” The word ‘united’ in the United States seems to be a bit of a stretch right now.
We are about to see the inauguration of a new president. Our state did not choose him. We voted (by a good margin) for the other candidate. I fear that some of us in the church are choosing to play the part of the persecuted victim as a result of the election. We believe(d) that the best choice was the other guy and we believed that God agreed with us, so now we sulk or revolt, or just sow seeds of discord via our conversations, social media posts and bumper stickers and yard signs. The obvious truth is that all of those things are within our rights. It’s a part of the greatness of our country.
We all know that there are plenty of things that are allowed and legal in this country that we shouldn’t do. Scripture is clear that sowing discord is never a godly act. Proverbs six lists sowing discord as the last of the seven things that God hates! Titus 3:10&11 says , “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
The better way is found in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Plenty of church folks have been quoting texts like Romans 13:1 to say that God chooses our leaders. That verse says that there is no power but that which God has, controls, and gives. I can see how people would conclude then that God does and has chosen sides in elections.
I will never argue against scripture. But I will ask this question of us, have you felt led by a president? In my forty-one years on earth there has never been a moment that I recall where I felt like my leader was the person in the White House. I’m not trying to supersede the power of the office. I’m simply saying that the authority of the government has not been where I’ve looked for or found much leadership for my life.
I read that Lincoln surmised that it was the sin of man specifically in the practice of slavery (not just the south, but the nation as a whole) that brought on the Civil War. It was not God’s will. The division in our nation is not the result of God desiring for neighbors to hate one another or for states to look down upon the people that live across their borders.
God’s will is that all people, brothers and sisters, would love, honor, and respect each other. Jesus prayed that we would be made one as He and the Father are one. That is why he declares the peacemakers to be blessed.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit