|Politics and the Christian Life
Question: At the 1998 summer NRCEA Teachers Conference held at Lethbridge, Ontario, one of the conference speakers mentioned in his presentation that we are called to be "a salt and a light" in the world and that young people need to bring a Reformed Biblical perspective to bear on every part of their lives including their careers, i.e. doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc. With this point in mind, is the arena of politics also a legitimate field of Christian endeavor? Should we, if qualified, actively seek to run for a political office in order to bring a more Christian focus to our government?
Answer: If with the "arena of politics" is meant the "government sector" the answer is a clear and absolute "yes." The word "politics" is a word loaded with negative connotations. Our papers report daily about the abuse, corruption, untrustworthiness, selfishness, and undercover arm twisting which are commonplace in the world of politics. Alas, what an absence of genuine Christian principle exists in many of the representatives of our people. Some are notorious atheists. Others trample the most sacred laws of God in total indifference. Instead of governing according to the voice of conscience, many follow the voice of convenience. This state of affairs makes us at times turn away in disgust from our leaders. On the other hand, this moral decay within the government sector shouldnt close our eyes to our duty within the society in which God has placed us. Nowhere in His Word does God place the field of government off limits. In Rom. 13:2 Paul calls the established government of Rome "the ordinance of God." The persons involved in the various levels of this governing body are even called "the ministers of God" (Rom. 13:4). If the Scripture calls us at several places to pray for kings and all that are in authority over us, we may not conclude that government is a field which we ought
to pursue as a possible calling of God for us. Reading through the Bible, we find Joseph, Obadiah (2 Kings 18:3), Daniel, Mordecai actively involved in the body of a basically ungodly government system. Yet, none of these did withdraw themselves from this setting but pursued the cause of Gods Kingdom while serving under ungodly governments. It struck me how beautifully Rev. Dyksterhuis Catechism booklet illustrates the importance of godly governments. It is clear from this quote how God used the arm of the government at many occasions.to promote the cause of His spiritual kingdom. Let me share the first three questions of Lesson 21: (1) How did the kingdom of Judah fare? It fared better, because of the true religion. (2) How was the true religion in Judah advanced? By pious kings like Asa, Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. (3) What did these pious kings do? They all restored the neglected worship of God. The great problems our country is facing (divorce, drugs, homosexuality, pornography, violence, AIDS, abortion, euthanasia, Sunday desecration, etc.) are related to the fact that leaders and subject alike have neglected the true worship of God. In Hos. 4:6 God proclaimed the reason why Israel was destroyed to be lack of knowledge, i.e. knowledge of God and His revealed will. It is the task of the church to spread the knowledge of Gods will so that our political and social world hears the requirement of God. Preaching the unchanging demand of Gods holy Law from our pulpits is the first and foremost step but certainly not the last. We have a calling as church to make Gods will known beyond our church walls. Not until the true worship of God is restored will the societal ills be rightly traced to its roots and properly dealt with. It is obvious that God often used the government as an instrument toward that end. It is for this reason that Rev. Kersten, on the age of 30, entered actively into the political arena in 1922 as representative in the lower chamber of the Dutch government. His main purpose was to call a nation back from its terrible neglect of the holy principles of Gods Word. He was convinced that the church carried a great part of the guilt for the liberal direction of the Dutch government at the beginning of the century. He said, "We have withdrawn ourselves too much; we have left the world too undisturbed." He clearly felt that the judgment of an immoraland ungodly government began with the house of God. It was his conviction that the Reformed faith doesnt give room for an avoidance of an active role in government. At one point he made the statement about those who focused all their attention on the church and their own personal spiritual life that they "were building a Chinese wall around the church." There is close connection between Christianity and politics whereby each Christian is called according to his talent and ability to strive also on political field for principles of Gods Word. We have a task to bear the torch of truth within our society including the world of government. In this conviction, Kersten stood in the line of Calvin and other of our Reformed forefathers. Lets continue to stand in this line as well and seek an active role in the governing bodies of our country. If one seeks a position in either the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of government, such a person needs to realize that one will "be as a voice crying in the wilderness." It will be lonely outpost in a world of sin, corruption, wrong motives, constant challenge, and rejection. Yet, the issues of our days ought to compel us to take this call of God more seriously. How many years are we away from legislative proposals to make the Lords Day a mandatory work day instead of an optional one? Which corrupt judges in the judicial branch will declare Biblical wrongs as right in the future years? Let these and a host of other threatening dangers not discourage us but drive us on our knees when we seek to use our talents and pursue a calling in the realm of governing. Perhaps it will objected that with "our" conviction one stands no chance to be elected? Is this Biblical thinking? In Ps. 75:6-7 we read, "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is Judge: he putteth down one and setteth up another," In other words, there is God who disposes all things. (Prov. 16:33) If the heart of the kings are in Lords hand, so are the hearts of the voters. (Prov. 21:1) Besides, one doesnt only need to pursue an elected office in order to be politically active. There are many other opportunities in which we can be active in calling attention to Gods holy demands. We can be involved in local organizations educating people regarding abortion, euthanasia, pornography as well as fighting these evils in legitimate ways. What an influence by simple testimony could one have if one would work for an elected government official? Only consider how the Lord blessed the simple testimony of a little maid to change one the mightiest government officials in the kingdom of Assyria (2 Kings 5). Lets not think small of the Lord but rather use even the one talent we may have in dependence on Him,