Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pursuing Justice in a Sinful World

Stephen Monsma with Larry Baldock

Honour, acclaim and fame may or may not come to a Christian serving in the political arena. Whether or not they do is irrelevant. Exercising political authority as a faithful servant of the public is what God calls the servant-politician to do. Whether faithfully doing so leads to acclaim and higher office or to anonymity and a shortened political career is for God to decide. Just as coaches subordinate their needs and desires to those of their players, and parents subordinate their needs and desires to those of their children, so servant-politicians must subordinate their needs and desires to those of the public.

A servant-legislator will pursue a cause that is just, spending precious time and effort doing so even though no one may notice and no acclaim may follow. It may even result in criticism and the loss of votes in the next election. Nevertheless, he or she persists, because there are people in need and the legislator is their servant.
The servant-judge or the servant-bureaucrat acts in the same way as the servant-legislator. The servant-judge will be helpful to a confused witness, patient with an overbearing attorney, and committed to giving a fair trial even to an apparently guilty defendant, and even when the community is calling for a quick trial and harsh punishment. He or she does all this because – while exercising immense authority – he or she is a servant of the witnesses, attorneys and defendants that appear before the bench.

The servant-bureaucrat will apply the law fairly and equally, whether dealing with a large, powerful corporation that has friends in high places or with a small, weak business that has few friends in the capital. When interpreting the law, the servant-bureaucrat will be guided by fairness, equity and need, not by what is the best career move.

The servant-legislator who risks electoral defeat by voting for a measure that is unpopular but necessary to promote a more just order for all citizens…the servant-judge who insists on a fair trial for an arrogant, obnoxious defendant…the servant-bureaucrat who is fair to the power and the powerless alike – all these are turning the other cheek and going the second mile. They are living according to the stirring and challenging ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, which puts others and their welfare before self. Paradoxically, power and servanthood do mix as long as power is exercised in true service to God.

From chapter 2 of Pursuing Justice in a Sinful World, published by Lifeway Publishing 2005 [Revised NZ edition]
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