Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Our Need to Stand

Listening to NPR on the way to seminary today, as well as reading the NY Times, I was a bit surprised to find that some coverage was given to the role of the nation’s pulpits in these challenging times. But most of what I heard sounded more like pastoral rants than men standing up to ask–“What would God have us to hear from His text in these troubling days?” Pulpits seem to be giving way to townhall meetings, where people vent their desires for reconciliation and call for prayer. All good–sort of–but where are the reports of a prophetic word, a “Thus saith the Lord” moment? Where are divine words spoken with such clarity and conviction that people can only but be silent before a merciful, yet holy God? Prayer is good, but shouldn’t it be the last word? Doesn’t God have the first word? 

I find myself asking God, quite often, to raise more godly voices to drown out so much of the present noise. God has done this in the past. One example is Abraham Kuyper. You may know of him. He grew up in The Netherlands in another century, living one of those amazingly productive lives. He was one of those very rare men who could live in differing worlds without compromising convictions. He served as both a pastor, a journalist, and a prime minister. He also founded the Free University of Amsterdam, and wrote numerous books and articles.

Impressive as all of  this is, he refused to isolate himself as a member of the elite class. Throughout his life, he identified with the “commoners”. Perhaps it was because God used the uneducated, the peasants to lead this “Christian intellectual” to an evangelical faith. Over time, he came to a strong conviction of God’s supreme rule over all, and is remembered for a quote that needs to be sounded forth today in and outside of pulpits:

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” Men may boast of their might, may claim position and power, and dominate the news. Things may seem to be getting out of control–but this truth remains–our God reigns!

Such a conviction may increasingly pit us against other world views that seem to push God to the side. In this case, there is one more quote of Kuyper’s worth considering–and standing by:

“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, than battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all of the fire of your faith.” Amen!

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