Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. +Psalm 146
A few years ago, a group of us studied The Path which is a survey of the Bible. Throughout Israel’s history the people when through cycles of faithfulness only to fall into apostasy, a period of dystopia and suffering only be raised up again to renew the covenant of faith only to repeat the cycle of disintegration after a few generations. It didn’t matter if the political structure was a confederacy of 12 tribes or a king. Saul was mentally ill, David who was faithful had his moments of darkness. Solomon full of wisdom, later fell into an obsession with building a Temple and dragged the people’s finances and labor into it in order to do so. His son, Rehoboam was a tyrant and those that followed except for Josiah, didn’t fare much better. Faith eventually slipped away into apathy and self-centeredness. There was too much dependence on people instead of the Covenant.
John Adams must have known Psalm 146 as he wrote, Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. The Framers of the Constitution knew their history and created the document in order with a series of checks and balances in order to limit the power that any one group would have over another. The following century, Lord Acton, an English politician and historian, penned: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What is power? Power is the ability to use one’s resources to put ideas into action. Where the rub is in all of this is the intention behind the power, the outcome it seeks and whether the outcome harms others for the benefit of the one in power. Even John Adams after writing, Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws, when he assumed the power as President fell into the power trap when he pushed the Sedition Act through Congress that forbade any negative speech against him or his administration. Jefferson and Madison brought light to this evil when pushing back with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions that nullified Adam’s unethical and unconstitutional act.
There isn’t any one of us who are immune to abusing the power that God gives us. The whole point of what I’ve written above centers around Jesus, who was linked as one with the Power of God, said, For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22). As long as we are linked to Jesus and his mind, heart and power, then we will serve others rather than harm them. The Constitution rests in the reality of God when its laws are followed instead of manipulated for personal gain.
Today, another election will come and go. But what will never depart from us is the truth of God as revealed through his patriarchs, matriarchs, judges, prophets and fully in Jesus who remains ever vigilant within us in his Spirit. The best gift we can offer anyone, including the investment of our time in politics, is to listen to and respond with the Power of God instead of the pseudo power of a self-centered will.
History, whether biblical or national, reveals over and over again that the self-centered will leads to perdition. It is our responsibility to remain one with God and then to use God’s Power to stand up to the evil in our midst. The other point I wish to leave with you is that we cannot transform evil. Only God can. We may work to arrest evil, but only the presence of God can transform evil as Jesus released the demons from the Gerasene Demoniac (Mark 5).
As St. Paul received Power from on High, we too share in the same Power of God that does no harm, but offers life to those willing to receive Him. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1.
Vote to elect Jesus as your Master when you visit the polls.