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Across the Pastor’s Desk: We are in need of each other

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ken Jensen


In order to meet the publication deadline with the Albert Lea Tribune, I find myself writing this on Election Day. What will be the outcome? Will the results be contested? I have no idea. Most likely the nation will remain as divided as ever. But, does it have to be?   

The Apostle Paul wrote to a congregation facing division within its membership. What were the most important spiritual gifts within the community? Was it wisdom or faith? Miraculous powers to heal or to prophesy? To speak in tongues or to interpret what was said?

Kenneth Jensen

He concluded that “There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) 

As I reflected upon Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, I thought, “Doesn’t this biblical principle apply to our secular institutions as well?”

Republicans identify themselves as conservatives; Democrats as liberals. Such labels are often applied in misleading and derogatory ways.

I prefer to think in nonpolitical terms of lower case c and l. As such, I make the following observations, which are not rigid definitions, only tendencies. I believe most of us are not strictly one or the other. And both perspectives offer positive contributions to the whole. 

Conservatives tend to see the world in terms of black and white.

“Right is right and wrong is wrong!” 

Liberals tend to view the world in shades of gray. 

It asks, “What is the most loving (beneficent) thing to do given the circumstance?” 

Conservatives tend to use the word morality whereas liberals speak of fairness when addressing divisive social issues.

Conservatives value tradition and desire to preserve the past. Tradition shapes our identity, our values and defines who we are.

Liberals promote change, believing the world becomes a better place when social institutions are reformed.

Fiscally, conservatives tend to focus on the creation of wealth, whereas liberals’ concern is for its distribution. It takes investment dollars to create jobs; yet, 48% of our population exist as low-income families or in poverty.

Conservatives tend to think of justice in terms of law and order; whereas, liberals perceive justice as advocating for the welfare of those who live on the margins of society through no fault of their own.

In the realm of politics, conservatives desire less government and regulation, promoting individual rights and personal responsibility. Liberals look to the government for protection as in areas such as civil rights, consumer safety and preservation of the environment.

This is an outline, an oversimplification in need of being fleshed out. The point is that both world views are right, just different. It is not a matter of either/or, but of both/and.   

The Apostle Paul described the church as one body consisting of many members with neither member being more important than the other. Each part is dependent upon the other and to be of equal concern for the other if the body is to function as intended. 

Reconciliation and healing are possible only when we see the good within the other. It applies to family relationships. It applies to congregations. It applies to organizations. It applies to government. 

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.