• Absolute power + absolute love = God's equation for justice

    Posted by Amanda

    19 October, 2012

    “If absolute power corrupts absolutely, and God has absolute power, isn’t God absolutely corrupt?”

    I was in a meeting in Delhi recently, talking about poverty and corruption when Rev Richard Howell, head of the evangelical churches network in India (EFI) asked that question.

    And the answer he gave? God combines absolute power with absolute love.

    Where there is sacrificial and unselfish love, power is transformed. And when individuals and society seek after the power of money and influence without love, corruption sets in. In its broadest sense, corruption is moral impurity or deviation from the ideal. It is the opposite of honesty and honour.

    How do everyday followers of Jesus rate on the corruption index?

    Maybe not very well. Lots of us are guilty of staying quiet when we see financial wrongdoing at work, some of us might indulge in a bit of petty corruption on the grounds that everyone else is doing it, some of us may not even think about integrity at the work place. For some of us, paying a bribe so our sick child can receive medicines is a practical reality. Some of us don’t ask whether our pension fund invests in unethical business practices as long as we get a good return.

    And at a global level, lack of integrity means billions of dollars are wasted and misused. The figures are staggering:

    -  The World Bank estimates that US$1 trillion is paid in bribes each year globally (World Bank, 2004)

    -  Corruption costs African economies more than $148 billion per year representing 25% of the continent’s GDP (World Bank (2007)

    -  It is estimated that bribes paid by Western companies to obtain influence and contracts amounts to $80 billion per year –(OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance (May 2001 p.11) 

    If we could fix corruption, we would need much less aid and we would be proclaiming God’s radical version of power – love and justice.

    Rev Howell’s provocative question is especially timely this week with October 17 being the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Thousands of churches around the world are participating in Micah Challenge International's 'Micah 2012' campaign this week by examining their own integrity and shine a light on their love of money and selfishness. Micah 2012 is a call to to do justice without hypocrisy so that we can then address the corruption of power in the wider world.

    God’s model of power is of course embodied in Jesus. He knew all about heavenly power but gave it up to embrace love, and when he was tempted by the prospect of “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour” he refused to be corrupted.

    How much we need to embrace that radical attitude to power and wealth!

    It is imperative that we pray for caring and equitable economic policies in our nation.

    It is vital that we assess our personal and business behaviour in the light of God’s standards. If we search our hearts can we claim with Job that, “I was a father to the needy, I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.” (Job 29:16-17)

    ________________________________

    Amanda Jackson is the Head of Advocacy and Campaigns for Micah Challenge International and previously worked as the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.

    Micah International has recently formed a coalition with other Christian organisations called 'Exposed' to engage in a year-long global campaign against corruption, calling for integrity in the dealings of the church, business and the govermment. The local expression of this global anti-corruption campaign is Micah Challenge Australia's 'Shine the Light' campaign. Find out more here.