From June 1965: How Every Christian Serves His Country
When Christians get to feel the world’s hostility — the “hatred” that Jesus said should not amaze us — they are often tempted to withdraw. The urge is to colonize; to seek out your own with whom to work and among whom to live.
Perhaps, but it is not the Savior’s way. When He said GO He scattered His people like seed on the vast acre of the world. There is no Bible directive for a Geneva plan, or church controlled state, as John Calvin sought to establish. Nor is there in Scripture an “Amana” plan for a religious colony. We are to be in the world, while not of it. This is, of course, a harder way. But it is the only way in which our society can be preserved during its time of grace … by the salt-like, preserving character of the believers within it.
Should a Christian seek a position of influence in government, business, the arts, and the professions? Will the world have him? The surprise answer is Yes! Fact is, the world is often quick to appreciate the value of the gifts with which the Spirit enriches the children of God. In one midwestern town the business and professional men regularly gave priority interviews to the graduates of a local Lutheran high school, even though this school was not as well equipped or as completely staffed as others in the community. You know why. The qualities of honesty, diligence, loyalty, and unselfishness all mean a great deal to any employer. You may not be sought after because of your faith in Christ, but you may very well be wanted for your natural and spiritual gifts.
The president of a substantial Wisconsin business firm was asked whether he found it hard to hold his position without being a member of one of the lodges which are supposed to hold the keys to power positions. His answer was, “If you have what the world wants, you are in. If you don’t, even the lodge grip wouldn’t get you very far”.
Egypt had no love for Joseph’s God, but it wanted what Joseph had, and it prospered through his Spirit-given abilities. There is no hint that Nebuchadnezzar or Darius of Persia ever bowed their knees to Daniel’s God, but both were pleased to entrust their most vital governmental powers to this great Jewish statesman.
Should a Christian seek office in government? It will not be easy for him to maintain his Christian integrity (as Daniel found out), but this is no valid reason for withdrawing from opportunity. The world needs the services of God’s children for survival. And it needs this service on every level in every department.
The world as our Lord speaks of it is so large, while we are so small and so few. Can we possibly be of substantial influence in it? Remember, it takes but a little salt to flavor and preserve the bulk of a ham; it takes but a small source of light to overcome the darkness of a room. Let us be what we are. What the effect will be is not our concern. Only do not let us hide our convictions, no matter how high or exposed our position might be.
The experience of Abraham’s nephew Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah offers a vivid illustration. Peter tells us that Lot was vexed in his soul, day after day, by what he saw. Since he “sat in the gate” of Sodom, we may assume that he was active in local politics, for this expression was used for what we would call the city council. At the time of the angels’ visit, he sought desperately to restrain the townspeople, whom he called his brethren, from committing the vice of “sodomy” and so became the victim of their taunts and fury.
Did Lot accomplish anything for these twin cities of vice? His disgust and his rebukes did not change anything, to be sure. And we are not told that he was able to sponsor any legislation to curb the delinquency. We know from Genesis, however, that those cities would have been spared the frightful judgment of fire and brimstone if there had been only ten people like Lot living there! (Gen. 18:32) So we may know that any Christian citizen may serve his country in at least two ways. The fact of his being there, for one thing, is enormously important. And being there as a person who is obviously vexed in his soul by the evil around him … this may also help. The sins of our times must be reproved by God’s people, for the world as such makes light of them. To whatever extent the world may then be restrained from course outburst of sin by such witness, to that extent the world is also granted a continuation of its time for repentance.
Quite a service to perform, is it not?
Let us be busy in thus serving our nation wherever we may live or work. Take courage from the prayer of Jesus, whose Savior-heart is filled with concern for His people as they fulfill their dangerous mission “out there”. “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil” (Jn. 17:15).
— Rollin A. Reim