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Read: Genesis 3:1-5 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In a few weeks our country will celebrate Independence Day. The 1776 American Revolution was needed because power corrupts. The hunger for power is the original sin, it is that temptation to “be like God”. Representative government is a brilliant way of governing. But democracy is not perfect. Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

There is a dilemma. Power corrupts, but authorities are necessary. Our founders built into the new system checks and balances, accountability, and constructed it on the principle of shared power and authority granted by the people. The same principles apply to leadership and authority. It begins with accountability. A leader may be called by God, i.e. King David was chosen by God, but accountability (the prophet Nathan) was still needed. No one is exempt. In the light of several recent police shootings our nation has been forced to examine the authority and accountability that police have on our streets. Has the use of force been abused and the use of de-escalation methods been neglected? Do police need additional training to understand their roles as “public safety officers”, “public servants”, and “peace officers” as much as “law enforcement” with permission to use deadly force?

Beyond accountability, Jesus taught the principle of “servant leadership”. His answer to the problem that power corrupts is to pair leadership and servanthood together. It’s a great model for a system seeking to resist the temptation of the original sin: wanting to “be like God”, and wanting power, prestige, authority, and control over others. Servant leadership is a model that stands in contrast to the seduction of power. Mark 9:35 recounts, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom