I am going to do something unusual for me, I am going to post Chuck Colson’s entire commentary from yesterday. It was good, and I don’t want you to gloss this post over because you don’t want to go to a different site.
“Politics, the Church and the Common Good” by Chuck Colson
If you’re like I am, your New Year’s resolutions seldom make it to the end of January. So rather than lay out resolutions today, I want to simply share some thoughts about the New Year—a year that will be dominated by this year’s presidential election.
The official kickoff is tomorrow, with the Iowa caucuses. I am almost relieved. It has been a long, tiresome campaign that began the night the 2006 election returns were coming in. I am sure many of us are so tired of the perpetual campaigning that we are tempted to think, Please let it be over, no matter what happens.
But that is the wrong attitude. We have to care. In the Old Testament, God appointed leaders. But in modern democracies, we elect them. Therefore, we are God’s agents in choosing God’s people. In a democracy, we get the government we deserve.
But I am struck by the advice that Jethro gave Moses when his leadership burdens became too great. Select capable men—today we would say men and women—who fear God; trustworthy men who hate dishonest gains.
Two adjectives jump out at me—capable is the first, which means the person has to be able to do the job. That person might be a Christian or not. If you are going to have brain surgery, you want the best surgeon, whether or not he goes to church. That is why Luther said he would rather be governed by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian.
But this year, the second adjective really leaps out at me—trustworthy. I do not think there has ever been a time in American history when integrity counted for more.
Our political system has been corrupted by Democrats and Republicans alike. Trustworthy men who hate dishonest gains, as Jethro put it, would not engage in earmarking just to get reelected—pouring $60 billion into pet projects to pay off campaign donors and constituents.
I have not decided how I am going to vote, and if I had, I would not say so. But I could get very excited about any candidate who could promise to clean up the cesspool that Washington has become—and who would have the courage to stand up to the special interests.
But no matter whom we elect, the country will not be governable unless people have a renewed sense of the common good. Christians of all people ought to understand this. Jesus came for the least, the last, and the lost. He cared about the prisoners and the blind. He cared deeply about the good of all people, and therefore, we should. St. Augustine said Christians ought to be the best citizens because we do what we do out of the love of God.
As I said on “BreakPoint” recently, too, we need to take stock of ourselves. I believe Christians these days belong on our knees: repenting of our self-indulgence; repenting of going to church but not making any difference in our society; repenting of the fact that we have not learned how to defend and live out our faith.
I would like to say that the Church is a beacon of light to the culture today. But I am afraid it is kind of a dim light. If I were to make a New Year’s resolution, it would be to help Christians clean up our act so that we really are transformed and live in such a way that we transform the world around us—starting with the voting tomorrow.
Amen to that. I ordered Chuck Colson’s book, God and Government and should be getting it soon (it it an update version of Kingdoms in Conflict). I’m looking forward to reading that and blogging my way through it.