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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Certain Deference Due

Can a whole country or political system be sinful? How so? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1267).

The real meaning of the story [of Jonah and the big fish] has much more to do with God’s redemptive grace toward outcast sinners [as in Nineveh] little of which [grace] seemed to be found in Jonah’s heart….. We all harbor attitudes of prejudice and we all have a favorite grudge. We want God to be merciful to us but not so much to our enemies…. We tend to think that we’re a little better than those people, that we somehow deserve God’s blessing more than they do. Yet these are the kinds of people… that Jesus himself specifically reached out to know and to help. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles make it clear that God extends mercy and grace to people from every nation, no matter their color, gender or social stratum; no one person is more deserving of God’s grace that another. (NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, page 1057).

In answer to this question it must first be pointed out that all people are sinful – no one is perfect. In this sense whole countries and political systems and the individuals within them will not be perfect and will sin through acts of commission or omission, either intentionally or through blindness.

I remember very well when Pres. Ronald Reagan labeled a competitive country “an evil Empire.” Pres. Reagan thus spoke from within his own country which incidentally had a high crime rate, extensive poverty, serious problems with drug and alcohol addiction, widespread allegiance to materialism, racial divisions, and a dubious environmental record. Predictably, many in America applauded his remarks feeling measurably superior and more righteous than those criticized. The conclusion and point that I would make is that we must be aware of human foibles and system imperfections wherever they are found – including our own backyard.

Another point, organizations are made up of individuals who provide multiple perceptions and perspectives. The worst regimes ever perpetrating themselves against humanity are bound to have within them people with dissenting consciences who await only an opportunity to act. The task becomes how to best assist them in redeeming the cultural climate of the organization and in realizing structural change.

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