I live in Illinois, the state in which one hears jokes about governors moving out of the governor’s mansion directly into prison. It’s not funny.
Corruption, while present in every culture throughout the ages, seems to have gained a deadly stranglehold in our country in recent years. Peggy Noonan, in her editorial, America’s Crisis of Character, points out that only 24% of Americans believe we are on the “right track.” She suggests that we are increasingly dissatisfied with “American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.”
Noonan recounts several recent stories of appalling personal behavior and government corruption as evidence for her thesis. She presents a convincing argument. With reference to the scandalous abuse of taxpayer money by the General Services Administration, Noonan observes, “The reason the story is news, and actually upsetting, is not that a government agency wasted money. That is not news. The reason it’s news is that the people involved thought what they were doing was funny, and appropriate.” (Italics mine.)
When corruption is assumed, tolerated and even flaunted, we are in real trouble.
Perhaps this issue captures my attention today because I am also reading a book on the socially redeeming effects of Christian grace. In The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief, author Larry Alex Taunton says, “It is…my purpose to make a case for society’s need of Christianity’s gentling, inspiring, and culturally transforming power.”
Taunton does this in the context of his experience with an adoption process in the Ukraine, a country in which corruption is pervasive and expected. Such blatant abuse of power, he argues, is the result of communism’s determination to stamp out religion, specifically Christianity. On what basis are moral decisions made when God is off-limits? Power replaces right and wrong. Taunton writes (p. 104), “The government sets the standard: those sitting above can easily spit on those below.”
Is that where we’re headed? What is the remedy for systemic and increasingly corrosive corruption?
I found some insight in my Bible this morning.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
That corruption arises from evil desires makes sense. So, then what is the remedy for evil desires?
The solution is not a better economic or political system or better oversight or redistribution of wealth or improved education. Any political structure, social program or economic system will simply be exploited by the evil desires of those who control it.
The remedy for evil desires, and therefore corruption, must start with the transformation of human hearts. And only Jesus Christ can change a heart. All other religions and philosophies offer only methods to manage evil desires, not the power to overcome them.
Therefore, Christians can, in fact we must, live in a corrupt world (what other choice do we have?) and yet escape becoming complicit in the corruption. If we can pull that off, then it follows that Christians actively living in freedom from evil desires can have a “gentling, inspiring, and culturally transformative” effect on society as a whole.
What do you think? What is the remedy for corruption? Can you think of any country in which moral standards are high, where people are generous, kind, and honest, that has NOT been influenced by Christianity?
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18
The remedy for corruption is teaching others to really care for themselves. Not the egoistic way, but in a way that they achieve an understanding for what brings them FUNDAMENTAL happiness. Anyone pursuing fundamental happiness will not harm another, because he will feel that as harming himself.
Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I see from your blog that you and I approach life from two different perspectives, but I welcome your thoughts. As a Christian, I believe that I will never find fundamental happiness in or by myself. In fact, happiness is not my goal in life, fundamental or otherwise. My goal as a Christian is (at least it should be…I have been known to get distracted from my goal:) to be more and more like Christ. Happiness is the fringe benefit.
in fact I am a Christian but on my blog I try to present information without that aspect. The happiness I am referring to is not the shallow happiness of watching a nice movie, I agree, that’s just a fringe benefit. Fundamental happiness is the result of recognizing the divine qualities God has instilled in us. I believe that that is a universal truth, regardless of religious direction. Someone who recognizes that he has the qualities of being a child of God, would never intentionally harm someone else, would he?
Hello again Francois,
I understand the distinction you are making between shallow and fundamental happiness. Maybe I would call fundamental happiness joy, an inner peace, security and hope that comes supernaturally from God and is not dependant on circumstances. This fundamental happiness is the the fringe benefit I experience as a Christian. I would like to think that a person who truly understood that he or she is a child of God would not intentionally harm anyone, but in fact we all do. Maybe not in violent or illegal or corrupt activity, but for many, including myself, with harsh words, prideful attitudes, anger, gossip, selfishness, thoughlessness, and the list goes on. We do harm each other all the time, even with the knowledge of Christ in us. I need more than my own understanding to change that behavior. I need a Savior, not just a system. I need Jesus. He gives me the power to overcome.
May I contemplate on what you wrote? Indeed we need Jesus and not a system. There is no such system, systems are mere tools that may help or not. But for me I would change the word NEED in HAVE. For me he IS there, if I want him or not. I can be the default, He can’t, because He is who He is. In another blog I once wrote to someone who questioned if God cares for him, that God cannot not care for you. In Buddhism (there I go again) this firm belief is discussed in taking refuge. This kind of belief that goes beyond knowing, it is called faith. It is a very vivid and joyful state similar to the way a small child feels when seeing its mother. It is similar to the yearning that someone suffering from extreme thirst has for water. It cannot be shaken by temporary circumstances or events, and a trust strong enough to survive the worst kind of circumstances such as illness. I answer to people who question the existence of God or Jesus; there is no proof that they don’t exist and many indications that they do exist. But still, I don’t need proof, my heart tells me what is and what not.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to contemplate on this, I hope you feel likewise.
Your contemplations are appreciated – I too am contemplating! Your description of faith is beautiful, and I feel the same way. I completely agree that Jesus is there/here whether we realize it or not and whether we want him or not. He IS. God called himself, I AM WHO I AM. Maybe what we’re discussing is: where does faith come from? Can we “find” God through teaching, training, awareness, or does He find us?
I must agree with Shannon, Judy. You do, amazingly so, have a knack for besting ordinary into apt, thought-provoking insights.
It does appear as if it takes so little to corrupt the most innocuous of subjects, ideas, people, etc… A flippant euphemism there, a bawdy joke here — we lose the ability to connect and relate in trying to be funny or “individualistic”, laying claim to our desires and wants. We are in desperate need of our Creator’s intervention. Kindness, compassion, generosity, and honesty — may there be an endless supply of fruit.
Blessing to you this weekend!
An endless supply of fruit is much needed these days – I agree. Truly, our Creator is our only hope. Have a Spirit filled weekend!
“…What is the remedy for corruption?…”
The only remedy for corruption is for godliness to displace corruption. This can only happen one heart at a time. Although this seems like a slow way to change cities and states, our recent ventures into political arenas has cost millions of dollars and has produced little – except more compromise on our godliness.
I completely agree, Larry. Real change happens one heart at a time.
Your blog is so perfectly named! You have a remarkable way of taking the ordinary, everyday stuff, and demonstrating the connections to our Creator. Thank you for continually pushing me to think more deeply about topics I often avoid…
May your weekend be abundantly blessed!
Thank you Shannon, and weekend blessings back to you!