Scandal fatigue

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

If there's something called scandal fatigue, it must be near its peak now. In the United States and in a number of other countries around the world, current and former political leaders are enmeshed in questions of impropriety. Most people realize that justice requires illegal activities to be uncovered and corrected. The process of doing this, though, is often disturbing and disappointing. The hoped-for result is governments stronger and freer from corrupting influences.

As I've followed the news, I've seen that I should take this counsel from the Bible far more seriously: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour" (I Tim. 2:1-3).

In today's political climate, it certainly appears that more time is spent complaining, judging, and criticizing those in authority than in praying for them. Yet prayer is especially needed, even when the one praying doesn't approve of the policies of the party in power. Why? People in important positions need wise guidance. They need the moral strength to resist the many temptations that thrust themselves at those in power, and the intelligence to understand complex problems and to carve out appropriate and effective responses.

There are many times that the Bible's simple reassurance, "The government shall be upon his shoulder," has been of great comfort to me (Isa. 9:6). It reminds me that there is a divine power, a divine influence, that is at work in government. The book of Psalms counsels readers to magnify the Lord. This suggests that my prayers should magnify my awareness of God's power, and increase my understanding of its scope and influence. There is a need to keep magnifying God's power until I recognize that God is all-powerful. This helps me realize that this great power is irresistible, all pervasive. It can overcome and overturn any other force or influence in my own life or in the life of any government official.

As I do this, I realize that I have, unknowingly, magnified the power of evil rather than good. I have thought more about the power of money to corrupt or of the power of political passion to embrace dishonesty. The counsel "magnify the Lord" speaks to me more sharply.

The Bible character Daniel certainly knew something of the influence peddling, rivalry for power, envy, and hatred that could surround someone in a position of authority. King Darius had given Daniel a preeminent position in his government, and those he worked with spent their time trying to destroy him. They finally succeeded in devising a law that would not only remove him from office but lead to his death (see Daniel, chap. 6).

But Daniel's innocence, fidelity, honesty in his work for the king, and his unwavering trust in God, saved his life, and this saved the kingdom from the corrupting influence of his rivals. Even though he was thrown into a den of lions - literally and figuratively - his life was spared. His understanding of God's always present power helped him know that his life was never in his enemies' hands; it was in the hands of God. And the kingdom wasn't in his enemies' hands; the government was in the hands of God.

Jesus' meeting with Zacchaeus showed the Christ-power to heal sin (see Luke 19:1-9). Zacchaeus renounced his corrupt practices as a tax collector and recompensed those he'd cheated. Jesus didn't complain about corruption - he revealed the power of God to heal it. This power and influence of God can still be experienced today. Trusting this influence ends a feeling of powerlessness or betrayal and brings inner peace.

Most people would agree that this is a time when governments around the world need all the constructive help they can get. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote, "Pray that the divine presence may still guide and bless our chief magistrate, those associated with his executive trust, and our national judiciary; give to our congress wisdom, and uphold our nation with the right arm of His righteousness" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," pg. 14).

I can't think of a better remedy for scandal fatigue!

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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