HOUSTON – Don't expect a political messiah to arise in the contemporary cultural situation, said the U.S. Congressman who is chairing the select committee to investigate the death of a U.S. envoy in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, told campuses at Houston's 65,000-member Second Baptist Church June 28-29 that people who are hoping for an Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan in the political sphere or a Martin Luther King in the social arena will be disappointed. Today's media, political, and cultural atmosphere focuses on tearing down people who seek leadership.
While there may not be hope arising from the political and social streams, authentic hope is in Christ, and that's what Christians should communicate, said Gowdy. "If you want to change culture, don't wait on the Supreme Court or anyone else," said the South Carolina congressman. The real hope in Christ is expressed through the lives of His followers.
"Changing the hearts and minds in this country is our job," Gowdy said. But Christians should push for change with a different style than that characterizing the present political environment. "You don't insult people into changing their minds," said Gowdy, a former prosecuting attorney.
Gowdy and Ben Young, son of Second Baptist pastor Ed Young, were close friends at Baylor University in the early 1980s. Ed Young, who has known Gowdy for decades, noted in a prayer that the South Carolina Congressman "is serving at a strategic time in history."
"What is the role of the believer in the current environment?" Gowdy pointed to the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor-theologian martyred for his opposition to Hitler and the Nazis. "Bonhoeffer could not watch persons of another religion be exterminated," he said. "And that's why he was executed."
Gowdy contrasted Bonhoeffer's commitment to impact his nation's political powers with a Christian worldview with today's environment in which church bulletins have to urge members to register to vote.
"Is there something in between?" he asked. "If there is, what are we supposed to do?"
Christ's followers today must assess the need and their part in serving America. Gowdy urged the Second Baptist audiences to seek out people who are serving or had served in the military, and ask them key questions, like: "Is this the country you served? Have we been good stewards of your sacrifice?"
There are also questions believers should also ask themselves, Gowdy continued. "Are you educated in the teachings of Christ?" Gowdy said that "the answers to all our political questions are in the Bible… But what good does that do unless you know the Bible?"
The second question individual Christians should be asking themselves, according to Gowdy, is, "When people watch me do they see anything different?" Gowdy said his closest friend in the Congress is South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the first African-American to be elected to the Senate from that state since Reconstruction.
Gowdy discovered that a blogger had written nasty things about Scott, apparently racially-charged. When Gowdy read the comments, he said he rushed to Scott's office to talk about how to respond to the blogger. "We're going to pray for that person by name," Scott told Gowdy. Rather than vengeance, Scott, a strong follower of Christ, set the example of prayer for his enemy. "You should demand that your candidates not only vote the right way, but act the right way," Gowdy said, noting Tim Scott's example.
The Congressman urged his listeners to build relationships with people, and to "communicate hope" to them. That hope, he stressed, doesn't rest in government, but in Christ.
"Live a life of conviction, character, and integrity that impacts another generation," Gowdy encouraged the congregations as he concluded.