Power that does Not Corrupt

Français : Rencontre paul biya et bayero fadil.

Français : Rencontre paul biya et bayero fadil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I start to speak out about anything, I feel afraid because I remember Jesus’ words “Let him without sin, cast the first stone.”  What can we do to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering at the hands of those who “know not what they do?”  I really believe that sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing.  We’ve become immune to the circumstances of our little lives and we’re just fighting to become something out there in the distance, trying to arrive but our destination slowly keeps moving beyond us–until we’ve wasted decades stepping on others to see what might still exist above them.  The further we move away from who we were, the less likely we are to remember the origin of ourselves.  We are numb to the consequences of our actions.  We’re in too deep.

It’s easy to judge those in positions of power–firmly holding to our belief that if we were in their shoes, we’d make sure to give everything we have to the poor and create policies that give hope to the hopeless.  But I’m certain that managing  an empire comes at a great cost, a cost that no one can understand unless they themselves have held the responsibility of ruling over a nation.   How easy it would be to feel justified by our actions as a leader, little by little–one decision leading to another and before we know it our allegiance is to maintain peace at all costs–some version of peace that leaves the larger part of the population starving for freedom.

I’ve recently been on a quest to figure out what the experts say about why some nations are poor and others are rich.  I really thought that maybe someone else had already won the Nobel prize for finding the answer and maybe I was just slow at having gotten around to reading their conclusions.  But as it turns out, more and more “evidence” points to the fact that the success of a nation is determined by a force well beyond the surface of what can easily be explained.

Why are some nations powerful and others powerless?  My research seems to conclude that even renowned economists can’t put their finger on what makes some nations thrive.  But their educated guess is that it has a lot to do with the decisions those in power make.  And ultimately, those in power can choose to sacrifice their own well being for the greater good of all, or they can choose policies that will maintain good relations with the elite, ensuring a long lasting throne for themselves, while ignoring the true impact of their policies on the people.  (http://whynationsfail.com/)

Assuming that this world and all that is in it, belongs to God–both leaders who claim to be Christians and leaders who make no such claim, are ultimately responsible to one True God who orders the heavens–though they may not allow Him to order the service of their church or the cabinets of their nation.

It’s so easy to say that we think it’s wrong for Christian leaders or greedy politicians to get rich at the expense of their followers, yet our own personal finances may not be aligned in the way Jesus would advise them to be aligned.  Is there any surplus, any amount that we need to re-allocate toward improving the living standard of someone else, even if at the expense of what others think of us?

Just when God says, “What can you do, what difference can you make?” And I have no idea what difference I can make in a country that is not my own and in a world where I don’t belong, I remember that “power” can corrupt us all and even if God loaned me the power to make an impact, would it be for better or for worse?

As an interesting twist to my recent quest for “economic” truth, I discovered that Cameroon, a country I follow closely (because of family ties)–recently ordered several Pentecostal churches to be closed down because of claims that they are illegally misusing their power in some shape or form.  And I find it all rather ironic, because the President behind these actions is by all outward appearance a far cry from an advocate for “the people” and his “power” by measurement of his nation’s success, is at the very least, corrupt.

Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, you’ve been President for over thirty years and one of the best policies you can create, as of late, is to shut churches down because of THEIR mis-use of POWER?

Mr. Paul Biya, I know you’re human because I saw your children, just like mine, carrying the burden of being just that-children at school who needed to be taught like me and like you, who still have things to learn and always will.  I know that a whole nation questions your policies and has fear about what might happen to them after you, because sometimes we’re afraid of something new, even when the bad is so unbearably bad.  But it’s not too late to do something good for your nation, to truly, after all these years, become “The People’s Choice” as your campaigns love to tout.

What is it that stops you from giving up your power to a higher power that will enable you to take care of the poor?  Do you know about the power that does not corrupt?  A power that sets captives free and feeds the hungry with what doesn’t ever seem like enough?  I can’t say that I’d know what to do if I were you.  But I hope you find a way to make a difference in the lives of your people before you die.   Perhaps the churches that you just shut down, at least gave their members “hope” that healing would come, that a “fair” leader would emerge, even if that hope was delusional at best.  Do your policies create roads and infrastructure–promising a hope of future profitability?  Do your laws promote the health and well being of those less fortunate?  Will the difference that you purport to make ever amount to anything more than propaganda to promote your re-election as President?

I’m helplessly optimistic that there IS a power that does not corrupt.  It IS possible for a President through the power of God’s Spirit, to help a country rise to its full potential, painstakingly so–but with the hope that at least God honors those who care for the poor.

I’m also a believer that God can work above and beyond those of us who let our own power corrupt us.  For pastors who hold the precarious position of possibly leading congregants astray, there is a God who can reconstruct a system of accountability.  There is a God who can save a nation through His transforming power that fights corruption.

President, pastor, flawed human in our insatiable quest to become:  Will we choose the power that does not corrupt?  Will we seek forgiveness for covetousness and use our position whether lowly or esteemed to meet the needs of others?

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5 thoughts on “Power that does Not Corrupt

  1. I have heard all my life about how power corrupts. Money too, but of course money is a form of power. I think though that the problem doesn’t lie in the power or the money or whatever. The problem is us, that we are the kind of people who are corrupted by money and power. I have seen in churches even the power of God corrupt people. This is not to disagree with your main point, that it is possible for leaders to choose to not be corrupted. And certainly God can transform it all by grace. And the sooner the better. Of course all I can do is pray that He starts with me, and see what happens from there.

    • Carroll, the problem does seem to be with us. I’m not sure how my views will change going forward. But I’ve seen enough so far, to know that I personally allow “things” to change me…that I react differently to the world and people around me, depending on my circumstances–both financially and psychologically. It sounds kind of self righteous, when I make an admission like that. But, I just mean, our “motives” seem so relative to our circumstances and it seems almost impossible to truly deep down make a difference in someone else’s life apart from the anticipation of what we may gain, even if it’s just to feel good about how we’ve helped.

      • You are right. our motives – mine certainly – seem so relative to the circumstances. I am increasingly sure that I don’t discern my real motives, not very well. It becomes a trap for me to try to make my own motives pure, or even better. And it does seem almost impossible to truly make a difference in someone else’s life. My conclusion is that these are two areas where we live by faith and not by sight: that God will deal with my motives, and that He can make it make a real difference. Whether I see it or not.
        Of course, I would much rather see it.

  2. when I think about the misuse and abuse of power especially in African countries and among African leaders, it makes me sick. Unfortunate, corruption and greed is like a subculture in Africa, and every generation builds upon it in unbelievable, unthinkable and diabolical ways. In fact it is even safe to say that it is a global problem. You can have powerful corporations or governments halfway around the world pulling the strings in far away places. Hence, the term “puppet governments.” Mr. Biya and the rest of these guys are a part of the problem. As long as there is natural resources and wealth in any place – the greed of men will drive them to do the unthinkable. It is rather a hopeless situation if you think about it. Unless God changes the heart of these men, they will not even notice the poor, they will not even raise their finger to change their countries with sound policies that will lift the poor out of their misery. It is going to be business as usual – take care of themselves and their own.

    • Walter, well said. That’s a good point “they will not even notice the poor.” I think that is key in reaching out to leaders who we just assume are aware of the plight of their people. One of the reasons my husband and I moved AWAY from Cameroon because the poverty was too “in our face.” We were too aware. I, for one, could not deal with constantly seeing hungry people who were beyond my help. I guess the further we are away from those who are in need, the easier it is to turn a blind eye. Perhaps in a way, Biya doesn’t feel responsible for the poverty in Cameroon. Maybe he feels that the powerful corporations and major world leaders who pull the strings, are the ones who are in all actuality responsible for his own corruption. Thank you for your comments.

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