POLICE & SECURITY
I promise to obey used to be written into every church marriage service, well, for 50% of the participants, anyway. Obedience wasn’t seen as negatively as it is now. But due to the abuse of power, obedience has fallen by the wayside, trampled and cast aside by the individualistic anthem: ‘I will survive’. When trust has been obliterated by postmodern cynicism, what is there left that binds our communities together? Common self-interest is increasingly uncommon, our values and virtues are so diverse that we agree on little. And so rather than commitments of obedience our way of doing life has become ‘I’d like to do what I can get away with’. Do I want to obey the letter of the law on my tax return? Do I want to be scrupulously honest on all insurance documents? No, I don’t want to but there is something bigger at stake than what I want- the truth. We all know that if none of us were truthful on our tax returns the system would fall apart. But if we decide to hide or distort the facts we do so because we think we can get away with it- that we are unaccountable- and that the honest ones will make up the difference. The problem with truth is that it lays claim to all sorts of things I would like to keep under the banner ‘personal freedoms’. I will defend the right to live unhindered lives but when such freedoms lead to irresponsible parenting, civil disobedience and the peddling of nasty rumours we have to ask questions. Why has it come to this? Why do we all seem to be so hacked off with authority?
Well, if we have no higher sense of authority then we only have ourselves to answer to. If a phone hacker thinks he will be rewarded for getting a great story by illegal means then it’s well worth it. If a rioter thinks society owes him more than his struggling everyday existence, then opportunistic looting seems ideal. God is truth- absolute and personal. I can fool some of the people some of the time, I can even fool myself occasionally, but I cannot hide from the glare of divine truth. Pilate asked Jesus ‘What is truth?’ Truth is the only standard that really matters. Whilst we might think of it as cold and abstract, the Bible is clear, God is truly compassionate and loving. He knows my tendency for self-centredness and he knows I could never justify my actions before him. So he sent his perfect Son to live and die for me. I live knowing that I’m loved and secure but that I’m accountable, too. And I’m also realistic about human nature. I will challenge and try to shape authority where necessary. I will encourage honesty and cheer on those who give offenders a second chance. And I will ask for your forgiveness when self-righteousness becomes my mechanism for unloving finger-pointing. But hacked off with authority? Not me, Authority has done me every good.