A Christian perspective on public service

Although as Christians God saves us by grace alone, and not through any of our own works, God encourages us to better the world we live in. "As we have therefore opportunity let us do good unto all men" (Galatians 6:10)

Positions in public service provide power to improve the quality of the day. The Christian's goal should not be the power itself, but rather the privilege to use it in such a way. Those who hold such positions must be ready to meet the responsibility and challenges this privilege presents.

Jesus noted that we are sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. He therefore instructs us to be wise as serpents, while at the same time harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Christians may find the wisdom and courage necessary for the task through faith. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Daily disappointments and deteriorating values present a formidable challenge to today's public servants. Many spend their whole lives avoiding the challenge by merely talking about improving things--leaving a few others to improve those things by the way they live. Those few, willing to meet the challenge, must not allow the tragedy and turmoil, caused by current social problems, to tear apart our homeland. Indeed, "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:25).

Perhaps we lay our expectations of continued justice and freedom too much upon government institutions. These are false expectations, for freedom and justice must first dwell in our hearts. As leaders, today's public servants must continue to recognize checks upon their freedom lest it be enjoyed by only a few of the most ruthless.

To preserve both the institutions of the church and the state, the public servant must not entangle the affairs of either with the other. Let us never be too sure we are right. Let us seek to understand the needs of the poor, the homeless and the oppressed, while weighing their interests alongside others without bias.

Reality dictates that the public servant must continue to deal with tragedy and daily disappointments. Yet these same leaders must provide our hope for brotherly love. Without this love, true justice and freedom cannot exist in our world. Therefore, where we see opportunity let us do good unto others.