Ronald Huereca
06/29/2006

A person who becomes a public servant is required to place the public’s best interest over their own. A public servant is to be impartial, loyal, disciplined, and unwavering in his or her commitment to a country. In comparison, a Christian is to place the will of God before their own. A Christian (putting it rather simply) is to serve God, and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus for salvation.[1]

At first glance, public service and Christianity have little in common. There are some similarities between the two for comparison, however. I intend to point out three similarities and give reasons why Christians are fortunate that Christianity is not like public service in several respects.

The Oath of Office

The first such similarity between Christianity and public service is that both have an oath of office per se. When sworn in as a public servant in the United States, a typical citizen takes an oath of office. An example of an oath of office for a public servant is shown below.

I, [state your name], solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

This oath of office is to ensure that the individual becoming a public servant will remain loyal to the United States and even asks the assistance of God for fulfilling all the duties required of the servant. If the public servant does not adhere by this oath of office, that person can suffer a variety of consequences such as dismissal (from public office), public humiliation, prison time, and even a charge of treason.

On the other hand, a Christian oath of office consists of vocalizing a belief.[2] Christians believe that God placed his only son (Jesus) on the Earth to save humanity from sin. Christians also believe that Jesus died for their sins and was resurrected from the dead. According to the Bible, if a person is truly a Christian, then that person will never fall away from Christianity.[3] However, just because someone can’t be “kicked out” of Christianity doesn’t mean that Christians aren’t punished. The Bible is pretty clear that Christians are punished and disciplined out of love and not necessarily justice.[4]

As you can see from the comparisons about the oaths of office, entering public service is quite different from entering that of Christianity. The biggest notable difference is that entering public service can be considered somewhat temporary. When someone enters public service, that person may leave public service through retirement, resignation, death, dismissal (termination), or by several other means. Christianity — if someone has truly become a Christian — is not only a lifetime commitment, but an eternal one. Even if a Christian breaks away from that commitment, God still pursues and disciplines that Christian.

The Public Stratum

The second such similarity between Christianity and public service is that of higher expectations. Public servants serve the public and are held to a higher standard compared to regular citizens. Regular citizens are quick to judge public servants; the venue of judging public servants and their actions is commonly referred to as the court of public opinion. When a public servant does not serve the public in a legal or ethical way, the servant is typically discredited for life. Rarely are these officials afforded public forgiveness and reinstatement into positions of public trust.

Christians — like public servants — are also held to a higher standard. Christians are not only held to a higher standard above regular citizens[5], but from other Christians as well. When Christians screw up (sin), they suffer many of the same consequences as those of public servants. However, Christians are able to actively and quickly seek and receive forgiveness from the God they offended.[6] Christians are also able to seek and receive forgiveness from their fellow Christians.[7]

While both Christians and public servants are placed on a higher stratum, there is a major difference between the two. When a public servant fails, the servant may seek the public’s forgiveness, but the public as a whole is not commanded or obligated to forgive and forget the public servant’s fault. Christians, on the other hand, are commanded to forgive.[8] Although the Christian and public servant may suffer long-term consequences, at least the Christian is able to receive Earthly and eternal forgiveness for wrongdoing.

A Plethora of Information

The third and final similarity discussed is the amount of information available regarding public service and Christianity. There is an almost endless amount of information available to those fortunate enough to work within public service. Even those that are not in public service can attest to the insane amount of red tape, documentation, and forms that accompany most public service actions. There is no shortage of documentation available that describes in near microscopic detail how every aspect of public service shall be conducted. Almost every conceivable action and consequence is intricately woven into documents that appear to be written in an unknown language (acronym-ese mixed with legalese).

Like public service, Christianity is also blessed (no pun intended) with a near endless amount of information. There are many different translations of the Bible to choose from. Furthermore, most topics within the Bible have been written about and expanded upon in book or article form. For the areas of the Bible that aren’t clear-cut, there are many published theories and debates available to sift through.

Fortunately, Christianity does have the largest advantage over public service regarding information overload. The Bible isn’t changing. The Bible will always be relevant on Earth and in eternity.[9] Public service, however, is an evolutionary monster that is constantly changing. It seems that once an aspect of public service becomes familiar, the guidelines change along with most of the supporting documentation.

Conclusion

Being a public servant is an admirable occupation. Public servants — as implied by the job title — serve the public. However, public servants are expendable. If a public servant screws up bad enough, the servant could possibly be stripped of his or her status and may never regain credibility and/or forgiveness. Being a public servant is very complicated with all of the laws, guidelines, regulations, and red tape. The laws and regulations are always changing, thus making public service increasingly complicated.

Christianity, on the other hand, is not only a lifetime commitment, but an eternal one. Once someone is truly a Christian, that someone is always a Christian. When Christians screw up, they may ask the God they offended for forgiveness. Christians are also afforded Earthly forgiveness from others who share in their faith. Although being a Christian has its complications, Christians are fortunate in the respect that the Bible never changes. The Bible — in its current form — is the polished, final draft that will remain a valuable tool and reference for eternity.

The three similarities between Christianity and public service hopefully provided some insight on what it is to be a Christian versus being a servant of the public. Christianity and public service are similar in some respects; however, only Christianity provides the firm foundations that exist during life and in eternity.

Notes

  1. Romans 10:9 (NIV)

    9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

  2. The vocalization of the belief does not have to be out loud.
  3. Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)
  4. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

  5. Hebrews 12:4-6
  6. 4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
    “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

  7. I am not implying that regular citizens and non-believers are mutually inclusive.
  8. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

    9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

  9. Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

    32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

  10. Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

    13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

  11. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NIV)

    24For,
    “All men are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    25but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.