The immediacy of this week’s riots in Kenya and other global instabilities has me reflecting on the disparity between the economics of world power and the economics of the Kingdom of God. In this season of “Peace on Earth, good will toward all,” our world has been seriously rocked by power struggles, political violence, and social upheaval, from Pakistan to Kenya, and beyond.
We’ve witnessed the evil fruit of the struggle for power and domination “up close and personal” as cunning and ruthless men, driven by the demons of personal greed and political ambition, order assassinations, rig elections, steal the right to govern, and murder thousands of dissenting citizens. It’s been an ugly Christmas season.
Part of the reason is the world’s belief in entitlement. In America, from the uncontrolled acquisition of Christmas “presents” to the wholesale pursuit of power, influence, economic affluence, and political control, we believe we’re entitled to “stuff,” and our belief in that entitlement has taken precedence over every other governing principle we espouse, including Jesus’ invitation to those who seek His Kingdom:
“Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)
But it’s not only Americans who believe they’re “entitled.” As we see from the events in Kenya and Pakistan, those in power believe that they have the right to acquire and keep power by “any means possible.” So they plot, connive, and murder, enticing allies with promises of kickbacks, patronage, power, wealth, and control, in order to acquire and control the reins of political leadership and their country’s financial coffers. Corruption attracts and breeds more corruption.
An interview with New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston on today’s NPR program, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, provided new insights into the pervasive, corrupting influence of entitlement trends in our own US tax and legal systems. Johnston’s last book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich — and Cheat Everybody Else, won him a Pultizer prize.
His new book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill) details the insidious tentacles of the US culture of entitlement, and its ability to corrupt those who control the purse strings and political power in our country.
If I weren’t grounded firmly in the wisdom and power of Kingdom economics, I’d be seriously disheartened by these facts and the recent upheavals in Kenya and Pakistan. But I know and believe that Kingdom economics trumps any and all flawed human machinations. When it comes to successful implementation, God’s got *the* ultimate economic plan.
Scripture not only gives us authority to govern our world in His Name, but also gives us clear guidelines for doing it justly, using Kingdom principles. God is the only arbiter of Justice in our world.
God will not do wrong. The Almighty will not twist justice. (Job 34:12)
So what does Justice look like, from a Kingdom perspective? the Old Testament states:
Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly. (Leviticus 19:15)
Everyone tries to get help from the leader, but only GOD will give us justice. (Proverbs 29:26)
Turn to the LORD, all you humble people of the land, who obey his commands. Do what is right, and humble yourselves before the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:3)
He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously–take God [very] seriously. (Micah 6:8.)
In the New Testament, Jesus puts a wider, *not humanly possible* mandate on how we are to govern ourselves and the earth. He asks us to totally depend on Him and His strength to walk in righteous managment. It’s also clear, from our history of centuries of mismanagement that, left to our own resources, we’re incapable to bringing His Kingdom to earth.
Power without Kingdom oversight turns governance into corruption–every time in every situation. So let’s lose that stupid idea about “pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” We can’t and won’t do it on our own, and the attempt invites demonic participation, delusion, and ultimately, damnation. It’s a really ruinous decision.
Gal 5:19 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage–to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. (1 Titus 6:17-19)
You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. (Revelation 3:17)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need. (Luke 12:31)