19 05

Governed by Christ and Not Fools: May 19, 2024

Juliana Undseth from Hillsdale College

Today we attended church together. At 9:45am all 32 of us piled into three vans and drove the few miles to Bethel Christian Reformed Church. It was raining when we arrived. We hurried in and were warmly greeted by the church members at the door, but had a bit of a hard time finding a seat. Even though we had gotten there a few minutes early, the sanctuary was already packed, with only a handful of seats left open here or there. According to a church member I talked to later, it was more empty than usual after the 100-plus regular college student attendees went home last week after finishing school. We settled into some spots on the side. The church sets up chairs in their fellowship hall at a 90-degree angle to the stage to make room for the growing congregation. They’re considering options to create more space. A good problem to have! We were nearest the piano for the prelude – she played “I Can Only Imagine” and “You Raise Me Up.”

Just after 10 o’clock, Pastor John welcomed the congregation, making sure then and throughout the service to turn to where we were situated. The service was chalk-full of Scripture readings (though some from the Message, it sounded like), tried-and-true hymns (“Wonderful, Merciful Savior;” “There is a Redeemer”), and faithful preaching. The church is walking through a series on the intersection of faith and politics, and today’s sermon was on kingly character. His question: “Does character matter for leaders?” His answer? Yes. But most Christians don’t think that way anymore. He shared some startling statistics that show we have changed our tune over the last ten years; we used to be the most likely to say that character matters, but now Christians are the least likely. A disturbing revelation. Pastor John gave a few possible reasons why, most notably the utilitarian argument — we have been forced to choose between the “lesser of two evils,” and we would rather have a leader with repugnant behavior than one that makes repugnant laws. Yet he charged us: “Untrustworthy people are untrustworthy.” The Bible says that “bad company corrupts good character,” and following a bad leader is a great danger to Christian witness, virtue, and hope. The message was a needed reminder to young believers and young journalists to be vigilant and to seek leaders who are Christ-like. Our ultimate hope is in Christ, not government.