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Rick Perry and the call to politics

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry stands with his wife Anita as he announces he is dropping his run for the Republican presidential nomination during a news conference in Charleston, January 19, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane)

Winston Churchill claimed that democracy is the worst form of government except for every other form that has been tried. One wonders what he would think of recent American political experience.

For instance, it has now been revealed that Mitt Romney may not have won the Iowa caucuses after all. He had been declared the winner by eight votes, but the final count now shows Rick Santorum ahead by 34 votes. No winner has been declared, however, because the results from eight precincts are still missing. Meanwhile, one newspaper called last night’s Republican debate in South Carolina “fiery” and the day’s political news “bizarre.” Who knows what lies ahead in this bitter and divisive season?

In still other political news, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced yesterday that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.  I have never used this daily essay to endorse a political candidate, and am not beginning today.  But since the governor has left the race, I can comment more freely on his campaign.

Here’s my point: I thank Gov. Perry for his decision to become a presidential candidate.  He has described himself to me as an “ordinary person,” but there is nothing ordinary about his career.  He did not need political validation, as he is already the longest-serving governor in Texas history.  He entered the presidential race only after sensing a strong call from the Lord to do so, and campaigned at significant personal sacrifice.

I have long been convinced that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call.  Culture is changed most effectively when we seek our highest influence and live there as faithful disciples.  For example, Jesus’ first followers were people of social significance–Peter owned the largest home yet discovered in Capernaum, while he and his fishing partners operated a very successful business with exports across the nation.  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin, the most powerful political body in Israel.

Paul spent more time in Ephesus than anywhere else because it was Lumen Asiae, the “light of Asia,” that city from which “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).  And he eventually made his way to Rome, where he would preach to the emperor himself (Acts 27:24).

We are commanded to pray daily for our leaders, whether we agree with their political positions or not (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  In addition, some of us are called to seek office ourselves.  I commend Rick Perry for answering this call.  Have you prayed for our elected officials and candidates yet today?  Have you asked the Father if you should join them?