“THERE was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” Luke 22:24. The disciples were expecting Christ to set up a kingdom in this world and of this world. They expected that in this kingdom they themselves, as a matter of course, would have the chief places, because they were his first chosen disciples. But it was not enough for them that they should have the chief places: the strife among them was as to which one of them should have the chief place. It was not enough that they should all be great and occupy prominent positions: they got up a strife as to which of them should be the greatest and have the most prominent position. Nor yet was the strife exactly as to who should be greatest: but who should be accounted the greatest.
Everybody can see that this was simply political ambition, and political strife for political position. Their conception regarding Christ’s kingdom was altogether a mistaken one; yet that does not affect the fact that theirs was only political ambition and political strife for political position: and this all because their conception of Christ’s kingdom was political. Everybody can see also that the conception which these men then held of Christ’s kingdom is precisely the conception which the Christian citizenship movement entertains to-day. And the strife in which the disciples were then engaged with respect to their place in the prospective government is precisely that of the Christian citizenship folks to-day respecting their prospective government. These to-day contemplate nothing else than a grand national “strife” by an election campaign to decide “which of them shall be accounted the greatest.” We know that these to-day sustain themselves with the idea that their work is all for the glory of God. But was it not so with those other disciples? Yet it was all wrong: it was sheer political, selfish ambition.
“And Jesus said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise  authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be SO.” Luke 22:25, 26.
“So” means “like,” “after the same manner,” “in the same way.” What is the basis of this “so” here?—The kings, the rulers, of the Gentiles, of the nations, of those who are not of the people of God—these exercise lordship over them and exercise authority upon them: “but ye shall not be so.” Ye, my disciples, ye, Christians, “shall not” “exercise lordship over them.” Ye shall not exercise lordship over the nations, over those who are not of the people of God: ye “shall not” “exercise authority upon them.” The kings of the Gentiles are so: but ye shall not be so. The kings of the Gentiles do so: but ye shall not do so. Yet everybody knows that this is precisely the thing that the Christian citizenship folks are planning both to be and to do. They do design to be just so, and to do just so. While the word of Christ stands ever before them—“Ye shall not be SO.”
Do you obey Christ, or do you not? Are you Christians, or are you not? “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
It will not do to try to dodge this by pleading that Christ meant that his disciples were not to exercise lordship over, or authority upon, Christians, their own brethren, as the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over and authority upon the Gentiles, their own people. This is included in what he said, of course; but this is not all that he said in what he said. It cannot be claimed that under this world Christ’s disciples could not exercise lordship over, or authority upon, their own brethren, yet could do so over and upon those who were not of their brethren, those who were altogether strangers to them. For if they could not do so with those who were of their own, and recognized fellowship with them, and held the same principles, how much less could they do so with those who were altogether separated and in no way of them nor of their principles or ways.
No: this prohibition of Christ’s is universal. Kings of the nations exercise lordship and authority; “but ye shall not be so.” The kings of the nations exercise lordship over them; “but ye shall not be so.” The kings of the nations exercise authority upon them; “but ye shall not be so.”
We know that the Christian citizenship folks insist that they must take possession of the government—municipal, state, and national for “the good of both government and people.” They insist that those who now run the government are running it to the bad: but “we will run it only for the good; they are agents of evil, we will be agents of good.”
Oh, yes! that is what those who exercise lordship and authority over others always said. “The people are only the better for being ruled, and we are the ones best fitted to rule; we do it for their good; we are only agents of good to the poor bad people.”
All this is precisely what Jesus says that these kings all say of themselves: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” “Bene”—good. “Factor”—agent. “Benefactors”—agents of good. This is precisely what the Christian citizenship people propose to be in their political aspirations: they propose to be benefactors, agents of good, to the country and the people. They propose by their political ambitions to work the “redemption of cities, states, and the nation.” Thus they too in this day would be called the same kind of political “benefactors.”
But what says Jesus to them and to all who bear the name of his disciples?—He says, “Ye shall not be so.” Those who exercise authority upon the nations are called benefactors; “but ye shall not be SO.”
Has not the fallacy of such ambition on the part of professed Christians been sufficiently demonstrated in history? Has not the thing been attempted over and over? And has not every attempt proved a most dismal failure so far as any kind of good is concerned? The thing was always productive of more and greater evils than were those which they proposed to remedy.
“Ye shall not be so,” says the Lord Jesus Christ. Will our Christian citizens respect his authority, and obey his Word?
A. T. J.