Thank you, dear readers, for your immense generosity. You are amazing. As of the time of writing this (late October), we have received over $430,000 from more than 6,000 donors, already surpassing last year’s totals. This is the second record-breaking year in a row for The Banner’s fundraising campaign. We are immensely grateful for your support. I thank God for your resounding support of The Banner’s mission to provide information, ideas, and fresh insights to equip our readers to be biblically rooted ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation in today’s world. Your generous support also means that we draw fewer funds from ministry shares, releasing those funds for other ministries.
I knew when I took this job that I could not please everybody. But I do take seriously what readers say. For example, in response to some complaints, we have slightly increased the font size of our classified ads. And we recently added a crossword puzzle (“Word Play”) after some readers complained that The Banner has become “less fun” since we removed the humor page. These are experiments in addressing those issues.
But pleasing everyone is not The Banner editor’s role. Everyone has an idea of what that role entails. Some see the editor as a pastor to the entire denomination. Others view it as a prophetic voice to “shake things up.” I hear, on one hand, complaints that the Banner is “too political” and “too liberal,” and on the other hand, that it is “not political enough” and “too conservative.” Why aren’t you denouncing Trump and those who voted for him? asked one email. And another, Why aren’t you strongly condemning abortion and same-sex marriage?
I admit that I have sometimes doubted whether I could fulfill this calling. Often I struggle with my own ego and pride, especially when complaints come flooding in. That is why I am so grateful for your overwhelming support of our appeal campaign.
As editor-in-chief, I believe my role is both pastoral and prophetic. The trick lies in knowing when to be pastoral or prophetic, and how. Both pastors and prophets, though, should be serving up not what people want but rather what they need. And that may not always be the most popular choice. Therefore, I am concerned with the increasing polarization in the Christian Reformed Church. I suspect that some pastors face the same balancing act between divided factions in their congregations. How do we bring God’s Christmas Word of “peace on earth” in such a polarized environment?
I think it begins by imploring all of us to have the “mind of Christ,” who gave up his privilege and status of equality with God and humbled himself to be a helpless baby, to suffer and serve not his own interests but the interests of sinners and rebels against God (Phil. 2:5-8). The apostle Paul called a divided Philippian church—and us, by extension—to this Christ-like humility, to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. . . . [And] look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4, NRSV).
Could progressive Christians regard conservative Christians as better than them? Could conservative Christians look to the interests of progressive Christians? Could we practice Christ-like humility with each other?
This Christmas, as we gaze upon the Christ-child who laid aside his glory for our sake, let us lay aside our pride, our need to always be right, for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.