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Christ in the State

James Stalker’s book Imago Christi: The Example of Jesus Christ supplies a number of thought-provoking observations of the everyday example of Jesus. The chapter on “Christ in the State” provides insight on the individual’s relation to the state, the ideal role of the state among mankind, how the state dealt with the one perfect Man, and Christ’s view and example of servant-leadership. The following presents a gripping summary:

But this conception of greatness and kingliness was not meant by Jesus to be applied to His own conduct alone; it is of universal application. It is the Christian standard for the measurement of all dignities in the state. He is greatest, according to the mind of Christ, who renders the greatest services to others.

Alas! this is as yet but little understood; it makes but slow progress in the minds of men. The old heathen idea is still the governing one of politics – that to be great is to receive much service, not to render it. Politics has been a game of ambition, if not a hunting-ground for rapacity, rather than a sphere of service. The aim of the governing classes hitherto has been to get as much as possible for themselves at the expense of the governed.

In the attached article, James Stalker points out that the prevailing view in Christ’s day centered on the desire for political prominence and deliverance from certain government powers. Christ refused to bow to the political agenda and focused on His Father’s will. Stalker points out the system of government had one opportunity to deal with a perfect man – and it treated Him as a horrible criminal.

In our day of political upheaval and the severely diminished influence of conservatism, Stalker’s words supply some thought-provoking words that challenge both the entitlement mindset of big government and the messiah mindset of deliverance being found in getting the right people in office. The few minutes spent reading this chapter will be well invested. Stalker’s perspective rightly acknowledges government as a God-ordained institution while simultaneously demonstrating the imperfection of human rule.

You can find the entire book for free here