Philosophy Lite: There are many ways of serving God
By Raymond Smith
Today's critics admonish us that Christians should not be involved in politics or government, and especially that ministers should not be involved. Indeed, that idea goes back 200 years to the birth of our republic.
Nevertheless, our government was formed by religious men who understood the danger of tyranny from unprincipled men. Many of the founding fathers of our country were men of deep religious convictions based in the Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
"Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God (Exodus 18:21) ... If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted ... If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." (Noah Webster, The History of the United States, 1832)
John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and one of the three men most responsible for the writing of the Constitution of the U.S. He said "Providence has given to our people the choice of their Rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their Rulers."
Beyond the threat of tyranny, there is the danger of immorality. The Christian religion is particularly a moral religion. Morality is the greatest asset for peace to any nation. Today, the Texas Legislature is debating the idea of opening the state up to legalized gambling. If the bill is defeated, it will be largely by the Christian legislators - men and women. Would legalized prostitution be next, or legalized drugs?
If public service is not one's calling, that person certainly needs to keep abreast of the issues and vote intelligently. Beyond that, one might join a political party and help shape policy. It is important to phone or write your legislators and let them know of your thinking. Consider working in an election. Give financial support to your candidate or to a particular political organization. Do this for your children and grandchildren.
I met a man some time ago who said he did not vote, but prayed. I cannot imagine a man who was fervent in prayer for his country, yet refused to vote. An old Russian proverb says, "If your boat is sinking, pray, but row for the shore."
I do not think it improper for religious leaders to encourage some of their members to consider public service as a ministry. There are many ways of serving God, and within the scope of politics, there are also many ways to serve. Finally, we live in a constitutional republic and it is incumbent upon every citizen to take part in the process.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.