Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a
king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will
take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will
run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of
thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his
harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his
chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and
bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive
groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain
and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your
menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will
take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you
yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out
for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in
that day." (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” - Lord Acton

Samuel knew this from the Lord long before Lord Acton said it.

This power is not only descriptive of kings and dictators; it is also true of athletes, actors, musicians, CEO’s, church elders, and anyone else who has a great following. He can ignore the adulation of the mob and remain a servant or he can take advantage of the power vested in him by his following and be corrupted.

The temptation is great, especially if it is not recognized as a temptation. It may be recognized as God-given, as with the “divine right of kings” as with the Stuart kings. It can have other authorities, such as the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in Communism, the “superior race” in Nazi Germany, or the “Son of Heaven” in Japan. In each case absolute power led to absolute corruption.

We see today a small example of the power-corruption sequence in the Congress of the United States.

The Renaissance Popes of the 15th and 16th centuries are examples of the power-corruption sequence. The Roman Catholic Church may know the Pope is an evil man but they are convinced that he is still God’s vicar on earth. It is the same with priests on a local level. They may be evil but they are still “God-ordained” priests.

Senior pastors and CEO’s are supposedly accountable to others but because of “power” they are often, in fact, not accountable.
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not
because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not
greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to
you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)

What is the solution?

If these men in power were filled with the Holy Spirit we might think that would be a prevention. Or if they were handpicked by God that would do it.
Here are a few God-picked men: Abraham, Moses, Saul, and David. What did they do when they got into power? They were God-picked and filled with the Holy Spirit at one time.

The solution is for men in authority to be:
1. Indwelt with the Holy Spirit
2. Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)
3. Walk in the light as He is in the light: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)
4. Abounding in the fruit of the Spirit: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)

We cannot expect the above of secular world leaders in any field. We may be disappointed but we should not be surprised when we see immorality and corruption. We should require and expect this of leaders in evangelical churches.


Gordan said...

Enjoyed the post this morning. Thoughtful, provocative, and down-to-earth all at once...as usual.

I was tickled to find out recently that there is a third statement that Lord Acton originally attached to the end of his little truism. It went like this:

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And, all great men are bad."

eLr said...

Sir, it's very good to see you online. Thanks for sharing with us.
Erika R.

eLr said...

Sir, it's very good to see you online. Thanks for sharing with us.
Erika R.