Checks and Balances. Nice Try.

Diagram of US Federal Government and American ...
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Chapter-a-Day Psalm 53

But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
    not a single one!
Psalm 53:3 (NLT)

Having just come through an intense political season and subsequent national election, I have been spending a lot of time mulling over issues of government. Bear with me here. This is not a partisan political rant but a meditation on spiritual principle. Beyond political agendas of the two main parties, my thoughts have been reaching deeper to the system of government itself. The American experiment was, in many ways, unique when our founding fathers hammered out and crafted our current system of government. Not to get all high school government class on you this morning, but I’m struck at how the framers of our constitution understood the corruption of humanity. They acknowledged that without checks and balances, the system would quickly fall to corruption. By separating power and spreading it out between branches of government, between houses of congress, and between the states and the federal entities, there was a greater likelihood that one person or one government entity could not have too much power and grab control of the entire system (which history reveals is always the eventuality).

What the founders of the United States acknowledged was what God’s Message calls the sinful nature and what theologians refer to as the depravity of humanity. Every person who has watched over or parented small children has witnessed and experienced this. Given to him or herself, a little tike will hit their rival, rip the toy they want out of another person’s hands and then lie about doing it. They will hide their vegetables under the table or feed them to the dog. As we get older we hopefully learn that these behaviors are wrong. However, my personal experience and my dealings with other human beings leads me to believe that as adults we just get better at hiding our true nature, excusing our failings, shifting blame and getting away with it.

Prevailing thought in our culture is that we are all basically good and are given to doing the right thing. Therefore, given a little effort, we can reach a level of moral excellence acceptable to God. At the very least, we should be able to tip the scales slightly to the side of “good” and earn a pass on Judgement Day. My journey through God’s Message reveals a very different picture. I find God telling us that despite Herculean efforts to overcome our corrupt nature and moral shortcomings, we will instead find ourselves to be Sisyphus who just gets the stone to the top of the hill only to find that it rolls right back down again. We can never achieve a level of moral perfection necessary to be found innocent.

Which is why I find that even our system of government with all of its checks and balances still slides slowly into the muck of corrupt dealings, power grabs, deceptive advertising, pork barrel spending, blame shifting, and inside trading.

God help us. Despite our best efforts we still fall short.

We need a Savior.

5 thoughts on “Checks and Balances. Nice Try.”

  1. 1 Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!

    Wow, this should make everyone check their heart at the door. Strong language this morning spoken to a nation who needs it?

  2. I work with nonprofits, government agencies and small business as an organization change consultant with a mission to help create change in organizations working from both head and heart. What I find most frequently is that the “depravity” in a system comes from many sources (and deficits) in the humans involved. The drift towards cynicism and fear is the biggest challenge, a situation that has accelerated in the past decade – in ways that seem to me to be purposeful.
    The great American experiment in democracy, which you describe so accurately in your post, REQUIRES heart-full involvement and investment by both leaders and citizens who are committed that democracy can work but who are able, willing and available to compromise and to hearing and understanding the point of view of others. Without such collaboration, democracy itself is at risk. “The other” is not not an enemy.

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