The Charles Colson of 1972 would have loved this presidential election season. He was the Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, and part of the infamous Watergate Conspiracy gang. It is reported that Colson once boasted that he “would walk over my own grandmother” to see that Nixon was reelected. He would spend seven months in jail for charges related to Watergate. Yes, he would have fit right in with much of what is going on today.
But the Charles Colson after prison would have felt much differently. Colson accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour prior to going to prison. His life changed completely. His Christian faith led him to begin Prison Fellowship, a ministry to prisoners throughout the world. He also became a thoughtful spokesman for the Christian faith and author until his death in 2012.
Charles Colson published a devotional book of his writings back in 1992 called, “A Dangerous Grace.” One of the devotional readings I read recently really made me think, especially in light of current events. The writing related to the Philippines, and to the time the country was ruled by the cruel dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, until he was removed from power in 1986.
Colson writes, “Over the years, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines, watched with growing dismay the corruption of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime. He prayed long over the plight of his nation.”
“After the assassination of Benigno Aquino, the archbishop knew he had to act. But what should he do?”
“As he studied his Bible, he saw in the Old Testament a pattern he felt applied to his own nation. When God wants to punish a people, he reasoned, he gives them unjust rulers.”
I am certainly not a Biblical scholar, but I can also see the pattern in the Old Testament. God’s people would forget God, and go their own way. An evil and unjust ruler would come into power, who punished and made life miserable for the people. And that usually opened the door for occupation by a foreign country.
When God wants to punish a people He gives them an unjust ruler. That’s something to think about during this election year. What type of ruler will we be electing this fall? While not saying that who we elect as president this November will be God’s punishment for forgetting Him, it does make me think.
Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic Party candidate, is being investigated by the FBI for the possible illegal use of an email server while she was Secretary of State. Donald Trump is ahead among the Republicans. His primary focus appears to be himself, Donald Trump, and winning, no matter the cost.
The other Friday night, I was watching the UNC basketball game during the ACC tournament. UNC was winning easily, so I checked out the other channels on TV. I stopped at the cable news channels, with the fighting and rioting at the Donald Trump rally in Chicago. I never returned back to the game.
The protests and strife at the Trump political events are good for Donald Trump. He comes off as a tough guy, gets tons of free media coverage, and stirs up the emotions and anger in his supporters. He knows that. The events are good for the protesters. They get their fifteen minutes of fame, and get to promote their agenda. And they are good for the cable news networks. Let’s face it, it takes something like a riot for most of us to watch cable news on a Friday night. The networks know that, and will do what they can to dramatize the situation. It may be good for Trump, the protesters, and the media. But it’s not good for the rest of us, except maybe to show us where we are as a country.
But maybe it could be good, if it troubles us and directs us, as a country and individuals, back to God, whom we seemingly have forgotten. In the devotion mentioned earlier, it stated that Cardinal Sin went across the Philippines preaching “repentance, conversion and renewal.” He felt that “what the people of the Philippines needed was not a call to revolt against their unjust ruler, but a call to repent of their own unjust hearts.” A spirit of revival swept the country. This led to a peaceful, nonviolent revolution and the departure of the dictator, Marcos.
Yes, we have problems in this country that may make us angry. But, maybe the real problem is not trade with China, or Mexicans coming across the border. Maybe it’s not income inequality or social injustice. Maybe we have forgotten God and gone our own way. Maybe, just maybe, the real problem is us.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org