the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function (Romans 12:4).
The Bible tells us that every Christian is equipped with natural and spiritual gifts given by God. These gifts are meant to be used in expanding the reach of the kingdom. Admonition, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy are a few of the gifts given by God at our new birth (Romans 12:6-8). Gifts given at our first (natural) birth include ability in: artistic design and construction (2 Chronicles 2:13-14) mechanical engineering (2 Chronicles 26:15), civil governance (1 Kings 11:28) music (1 Chronicles 15:22) and warfare (1 Chronicles 5:8) to name a few. Both spiritual and natural gifts are identified by the interests and the abilities of the individual and must be developed under the direction of more accomplished people (Exodus 35:30-35, 1 timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:10). Yet what natural and spiritual gifts should we look for in one called to serve as a civil magistrate? We may begin to answer that question by looking at two examples in the Bible.
David was anointed king while a shepherd where he had opportunity to develop his natural gifts of patience, compassion and courage (1 Samuel 17 34–36). An ability to lead men matured while he alternately served or fled king Saul (1 Samuel 18:12-16, 22:1-2). Yet, David's primary qualification for high level civil leadership was that he was a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)
The Bible tells us that Daniel and his friends were endowed with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom and every time the king asked them about something important, they showed great wisdom and understanding (Daniel 1:17, 20). These young men became civic leaders in the government of Babylon and Daniel continued in conspicuous civil service until the reign of the Medo-Persian king Cyrus.
Therefore, our short list of qualities required of the man called him to public service includes patience, compassion, courage, leadership ability and the intellectual prowess required to master the four key disciplines mentioned in last week's article (theology, history, law and economics). In addition, he must be faithful in little before he is given responsibility in much (Luke 16:10).
The Scripture says, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever (Psalms 111:10). This is the foundation for everything we have touched on so far. But it is not possible to have this foundation nor is it possible to properly develop the natural and spiritual gifts required for effective civil leadership without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am not saying non-Christians are wholly incapable of civil leadership. I am saying that every human activity transacted apart from God is second-best.
The only long-term hope for our nation is to bring all of life under the authority of Jesus Christ. True followers of Christ agree that personal piety must be an expression of a relationship with God in Jesus Christ. In other words, it is not enough to be a “good and moral” Buddhist, atheist, new age adherent or whatever. Simply being “good” is never good enough. Those who place faith for their salvation is something other than Jesus are destined for hell. But we cannot be satisfied with individualistic, Americanized “Christianity.” All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus Christ and so all legitimate human activity must be brought under his control. This includes civil government. This is why we need to identify and train Christian statesmen.