The Problem of Power

source: allen brewer via flickr
source: allen brewer via flickr

Her leaders judge for a bribe,
    her priests teach for a price,
    and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say,
    “Is not the Lord among us?
    No disaster will come upon us.”
Micah 3:11 (NIV)

As I write this the next Presidential election here in the States is 16 months off, but already the candidates are queueing up and the political machinations have begun. We had a family gathering at Wendy’s folks yesterday afternoon and casual conversation has already turned to be all about elections. It’s going to be a long one, I’m afraid. It’s times like this that I wish life had a fast forward button.

I am glad I live in a land with free elections and representative republic. As a lover of history, however, I’m constantly reminded that political power is a corrupting force. As Lord Acton observed, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Even in a system with checks and balances, I’ve observed that political offices (both elected and appointed) become places from which individuals and parties make rules to entrench their position and take advantage for themselves and their friends.

In the days of the prophet Micah, the situation was no different, as Micah observes in today’s chapter. God’s Message teaches that we live in a fallen world. Our sin leads us, despite our best altruistic efforts to the contrary, to make self-centric decisions for ourselves and our own. The more powerful and influential position we yield the more difficult it becomes to succumb.

Today, I’m feeling a bit cynical, but I’ve got plenty of evidence from events past and present to justify my cynicism. Perhaps that is why God’s Message exhorts us so directly to pray for our leaders and those in power. At the same time that I’m pointing the finger at politicians, I’m also mindful that power’s corrupting force is present in any human system from families to churches to companies to neighborhoods and service organizations. In my admittedly meager positions of influence I am aware of the negative affects power can have on me if I am not aggressively mindful, humble and accountable.

One thought on “The Problem of Power”

  1. I just watched a news segment which highlighted a war of words happening between Donald Trump and John McCain and the media. Key word media. Boy they know how to stir up a good controversy. Then I open the Word and read this today,
    9
    Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
    you rulers of Israel,
    who despise justice
    and distort all that is right;
    I can’t help but plug in U.S. or Iowa into the verse as I observe the wild, wacky political scene that is unfolding and will unfold over the next few months. I get pretty sick of it. The Donald will inject something different into this election cycle, however. He doesn’t politic when he gets asked a question, giving typical political answers. He shares what he’s thinking. Yes, he may say some things that tick people off, but it is so refreshing that he not bend like a wet noodle when he’s asked a tough question. Hang on, it will be a wild ride.

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