I have been involved in many different arenas in government over my lifetime. In my youth, I was the manager of the swimming pool in Hull, Iowa. I grew up and became the City Administrator of Hull. Later I was the Sioux County Treasurer and now I am a State Senator for Iowa.
Through these life experiences I have developed an understanding of how my Christian faith is desperately needed in restoring a Christ centered world in government. However, I have found that the sphere of government has also become an area where Christians have found limited involvement.
We are taught in Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him all things were created ……. thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
The sphere of government is incredibly significant in every aspect of life. It permeates through each of our work settings, the communities in which we live; the school’s that our children attend, to the everyday mundaneness of driving, eating and communicating. So, it begs the question: why aren’t we more passionately involved in this sphere?
Christianity and government seem to exist on two different spectrums. Christianity seems to be in direct conflict with government; or, that is perception which seems to be painted as reality. Christians have fallen into this false social reality that church and state needs to be separate.
Over the decades, Christians have also taken up many different causes that have led to defeats in the public square. Policy and court rulings have frustrated Christians to the point where indifference, cynicism and unresponsiveness has crept into the sphere of government for Christians. Christians have become like a small child who throws his sucker in the dirt and runs to his parents, or takes his ball and runs home, not wanting to play anymore. Because of these public square defeats we no longer want to engage. Christians have also been lulled into complacency by secular society embracing a civil religion that make us feel that there is faith in our land; a quick prayer before a civic meeting or a politician saying, “God bless”; it makes Christians feel safe and confident that God is on our Nation’s side. These issues have led to Christians separating themselves from the sphere of government.
Genesis demands us to govern and have dominion over all the earth and oversee it. We cannot be passive or disconnected to the sphere of government which envelopes all that we do. As Christians we need to be immersed in the daily tasks and decision making process of government. We are tasked to be active in our schools, communities, counties, state and nonprofit organizations that God has established for us to oversee.
We are citizens of this great land, we are allowed to be active in government while proclaiming our faith through this sphere. Acts 16 is a great example for us; Paul and Silas spoke up and were beaten without trial; however, government tried to appease them after they were found to be citizens. Paul and Silas had government rights, just as we do today.
Through scripture we are accountable for the world around us and we must live this out in obedience to the Lord. This directive means we cannot be a passive observer; rather each of us must be an active participant.
This requires each of us to get involved in the following way:
Continual listening, learning and understanding: To be engaged in the sphere of government we need to know what is happening. This requires taking the time to listen to the local and national news, read the school newsletter, check out the city council minutes; subscribe to a Christian news magazine. We need to develop thoughts and opinions on the issues and plans that are relevant to the time.
Understanding creates a base of knowledge that allows a Christian to be engaged and to create a framework that bears spiritual fruit.
Get involved: Be a member of Kiwanis, The Rotary, PTA, city council, school board, town beautification committee, the county sportsman club; or, run for a city, county or state office; each sphere of government needs Christian men and women to lead and further the kingdom plan.
Being in these organizations, or being in one of these positions, enables Christians to have a say in policy, plans, and oversight which helps create positive Christian civility and governance.
Involvement also means voting in elections. If you have a base of knowledge, you can intelligently cast your ballot for office bearers that hold your world views. A person should not complain about government if you don’t take the time to vote.
Be an active participant: Don’t simply occupy a chair, or merely exist on the membership rolls. To promote our Christian world view, you must be an active participant. As it says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart and reverence to the Lord.”
We each have special gifts that promote the Lord’s work; as it notes in Romans 12, “these gifts include, teaching, encouraging and leadership to govern diligently.”
Changes can be made; or, plans and programs get developed only through motivated people who desire outcomes that represent their principles and philosophies.
Engage for the Right Reason: We are called; required as Christians to be engaged in all spheres, including government. We need to understand that we are serving, not being served. We are submitting ourselves to the governing authorities. As it say in Romans 13:2 “For there is no authority except what God has established.”
We also need to be aware that there are social, economic and racial injustices; what we say and do must reflect the scripture and God’s will for his people. Philippians 2:3-5 states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Christians need to be setting the agenda, developing policy and creating initiatives in each government sphere that challenges our surrounding culture.
The Great Commission supports this this passion of getting involved in all spheres of life. Instead of being on two different spectrums, government and Christianity; we must integrate our Christian world view into the nebulous tentacles of government.
A note from the iAt editors: This article was originally given as a speech to attendees at Q Commons: Sioux Center on February 26, 2015 at Dordt College.