THE UPWARD CALL
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
#03-0977
The Kingdom of Our Lord #17.
Rulers Serve, Owing Nothing
Except to Love
August 31, 2009
Today, in the US in particular, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on politics. It is as if politics has
become a national obsession, at least as far as most of the media outlets, as well as the many
organizations and lobbyists that feed off the government, are concerned. Of course, this obsession is not
only over politics but over the politicians that drive the political system as well.
As I have written before, the US political system is run, in large part, by a class of professional elites.
Politicians that remain in power for 20-40 years, having held few, if any, private jobs in their lives, must
be called professional politicians, for politics is their profession.
Interestingly, the US Founding Fathers warned against a professional class. They believed that it was an
honor to serve in public office and that those who were successful in life because they were gifted in
certain ways should be encouraged to give up their private life for a period of time to serve the public
interest. But, they never encouraged citizens to become professional politicians as a career or an elite
class, especially the type of aristocratic class that was prevalent in Europe in their day. In fact, some of
the founders cautioned against high salaries for public officials as a way to prevent such a thing from
occurring.
In 1787, Benjamin Franklin addressed the Constitutional Convention and warned that “there are two
passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love
of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action,
when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects” (source: A
Miracle That Changed the World: The 5000 Year Leap , by W. Cleon Skousen, National Center for
Constitutional Studies, 1981, page 66).
Paul the apostle gave a similar warning to his beloved Timothy: For the love of money is a root of
all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and
pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10 NASB). He also cautioned the Hebrews:
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what
you have (Hebrews 13:5).
Of course, I am sure you realize that these are generalities and do not refer to all politicians. As I have
stressed elsewhere, there are good figs and bad figs, so to speak. An honest appraisal of our current
political system must conclude that, at best, today we have a system that is a mixture of a quasi-
aristocracy, a professional elite class, and true public servants that give up their private lives for a
season and then return to private life. To me, those who leave private life but never return to it, unless
they are not reelected or die in office, become part of the professional elite class.
The professional class is the most dangerous, for it is most vulnerable to fall prey to the love of money
and power. The emphasis turns from how to serve to how to get reelected and remain in power. Power
often corrupts, and some begin to see things in ways that are contrary to the best interests of the
country and begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought, something Paul warned
Christians to guard against (Romans 12:3). We see signs of this when a female senator upbraids a
military general for respectfully addressing her as ma’am rather than senator; or a congressman who
helps write tax law repeatedly failing to follow the law himself and his cohorts taking no action against
him; or officials (elected, appointed, or otherwise) pushing for legislation that is against the will of the
people and justifying their actions as needed for a citizenry that does not know what is best for them.
Benjamin Franklin was right; a public servant (i.e., holding public office) should have experience in
private life (e.g., holding a job, running a business, applying a certain skill or gift in a trade) before
entering public life. It is the experience that comes from private life that makes one best suited to hold a
public office.
I have believed for many years that the same principle applies to any who desire to serve the Lord’s
people (i.e., pastor, teacher, elder). It is not uncommon for young men who never held a job to decide
that they have been called into “the ministry.” So, some go off to seminary to get a piece of paper, while
others simply take on a title for themselves and a name for their ministry. This is contrary to Scripture
and the way that God works in preparing men for great things in His service. Moses and David tended
sheep. Peter, James, and John fished. Paul mended tents. They all had experience in a profession before
the Lord called them to serve, and even then, some of them continued to practice their trade.
In like fashion, those who will be counted worthy to reign with Christ in the age to come are the
conquerors that overcame the many trials of life. In other words, the conquerors are the ones who were
trained in the everyday experiences of life. They suffered with Christ so that they may be glorified with
Him (Romans 8:17). They are not conquerors because they have a name for themselves, a ministry, a
title, or any such thing that the world idolizes. They are conquerors because they overcame by the
blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their
life even when faced with death (Revelation 12:11 NASB.)
In the Lord’s kingdom, greatness is in serving by laying down one’s life; it is a life of humility.
(25) “The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those exercising authority over them
are called benefactors. (26) But you be not so, but the greater among you, let him be as
the lesser; and the one governing as the one serving. (27) For who is greater, the one
reclining, or the one serving? Is it not the one reclining? But I am in your midst as One
serving. (28) But you are those continuing with Me in My temptation. (29) And I appoint
a kingdom to you, as My Father appointed to Me…. (L uke 22:25-29 LITV)
(8) But do not you be called Rabbi, for One is your Leader, the Christ, and you are all
brothers. (9) And call no one your father on earth, for One is your Father, the One in
Heaven. (10) Nor be called leaders, for One is your Leader, the Christ. (11) But the
greater of you shall be your servant. (12) And whoever will exalt himself shall be
humbled, and whoever will humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12 LITV)
Notice who will be appointed a kingdom; they are the ones who, in this age, do not lord over others or
demand that they be served and who do not take on the lofty, exalted titles of men. They are the ones
who proclaim that there is only one Leader, the Christ.
Today, many men within government and, unfortunately, the church beam with pride when they are
called leaders. Let them have their glory in this day. But for those who desire to be counted among the
conquerors, who will rule and reign with Christ in His coming kingdom, position and title mean little.
What matters the most is to serve as our Lord served, and that requires a life laid down in love.
The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted her sons to be great in the kingdom, but Jesus answered her,
along with the ten disciples that became indignant over her request: “You know that the rulers of
the Gentiles [nations] lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
(26) It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall
be your servant, (27) and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; (28)
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NASB)
The ones who will reign with Christ in His kingdom are those who serve in this age. Does this mean that
they will not be servants in the kingdom of our Lord but rather will be like potentates that demand
others to serve them? No! Jesus has given us the example of servant leadership. In fact, the nations will
finally see what true leadership is all about. Leadership is serving. True leaders do not exalt themselves;
rather, they exalt the One true leader. Rulers serve, owing nothing except to love (Romans 13:8).
In their service, the nations will see the love of God and come to know that God is love .
The Upward Call: #03-0977
by: Stuart H. Pouliot