PLANO?In less than eight months American voters will go to the polls to elect a president. A few questions worth asking might be:
• Why is electing a president such a big deal?
• Why would anyone want to be a part of politics?
• If politics is a dirty game, should Christians aspire to hold political office?
• Should Christians even vote?
On the last one, political strategist Ralph Reed says yes.
Reed, speaking in January at an Elevate 2004 Conference sponsored by Southern Baptists and hosted by Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, told the group of young Christians in attendance they have a responsibility to be involved.
“A lot of people ask, ‘How can you be involved in a business as dirty as politics?'”
Reed answered using the analogy of a house with broken water pipes. Our government is not completely corrupt, Reed contended, it just has some malfunctioning parts.
“That broken water pipe is threatening the foundation of that house,” Reed said. “If you don’t do something about it, it’s going to flood the foundation. It’s going to weaken the soil around it. And the whole house is going to come crumbling down.”
Believers have two options, Reed said. They can choose to stay in the house and not fix the pipes because they might get dirty under the house. Or, they can get under the house, repair the pipes and save the house.
“Don’t think for one minute as a Christian that you can stay cloistered in your own safe churches and schools and homes and not engage the broader culture, that you can be protected from the broken water pipe that is threatening the survival of our culture,” Reed said. “Eventually, it will find you.”
For Reed, politics is a calling.
He became involved in politics before he was a Christian. So, Reed said, he has played the game from both sides. As a political strategist before his salvation, Reed said he played to win at all costs. But since his conversion, he has had a chance to see and be a part of elections where people stood by their convictions.
“I have had the privilege and the honor ? to see people who got in touch with the talents and abilities they had been given and combined it with their faith in God and made a real difference in touching every life that they came in contact with through the love and grace and mercy of Jesus Christ,” Reed said.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Reed and radio talk show host Janet Parshall explained to the audience the importance of getting involved in the “culture war” and how to become involved in the battle.
Huckabee, a former pastor, said Christians today should be “thermostats instead of thermometers.” Thermometers only check the temperature around them, Huckabee said, adding, “A lot of people?particularly in politics?are nothing more than thermometers.” These “thermometers” take an opinion poll to get the “pulse of the public” and based on the poll state the position they’re going to take, he explained.
Huckabee said God is calling more people to be thermostats instead of thermometers. Thermostats were made not just to read the temperature, but to move the temperature and make it what it ought to be.
He offered two suggestions in becoming a thermostat and changing the climate of the culture. First, Huckabee said, a Christian should stand by his convictions no matter the consequences
“Convictions are not your preferences or your likes versus your dislikes.” Huckabee said. “These are things that you so genuinely believe in ? you’re willing to be left alone and have your friends walk away because these are things you’re simply not going to compromise.”
For Christians, these convictions should be based on the word of God, Huckabee said. Some absolutes are unchanging. Huckabee listed some of his unchangeable convictions?sanctity of life, helping the poor, and honesty.
Second, Huckabee said Christians should “serve compassionately” to get ahead in this culture war. “Jesus did not come to be served, but he came to serve,” Huckabee told the group.
Huckabee told of his 12 years of pastoring churches before he became involved in public life. When he first made the decision to go into politics, some of those in the church questioned his decision. According to Huckabee, some of these people believed the only ministry options were pastors, song leaders (they didn’t have music leaders) or foreign missions. Everything else was considered secular work?not a calling.
“Where did that nonsense come from?” Huckabee asked. “Folks, you don’t have to get a payche