Recently I’ve been made aware of corruption in any number of societal institutions here in the US.
When I was in high school and college, I learned about Big Business and its evils which required new laws to curb monopolies and to protect labor movements. Except, the results contributed to Big Government and Big Labor.
Now we also have Big Entertainment and Big Banking and Big Media and Big Education.
Honestly, it’s easy to feel squeezed, to feel defeated. Who can fight city hall? Or cable TV? Or union dues? Or bank foreclosures? Or the department of education?
Worse still is that the operating principle in each of these Big Systems is primarily greed—get mine and make it as big as possible. The idea of cooperation, the idea of working for the greater good—those are archaic notions, nostalgically remembered but no longer practiced apart from a few mom and pop stores and a smattering of charities.
Even medicine is trending toward Big and Profitable. The prescription drug industry is right there as well.
How odd that in a country build on rights and freedoms, there seems to be less and less within the individual’s control.
In many respects, our institutions operate much like mountain runoff. It starts as a pleasant and pure stream high above timberline where it waters meadows and wildflowers, but ends up funneled into a muddy and polluted river.
Rivers can be incredibly powerful. They can overflow their banks, sweep through an area, and wipe out homes and fields. They can carve canyons from stone and generate enough force to run electric plants.
But greater than any river is God who made them all.
Too often when we see news about shootings and clashes with the police and racial tension and young girls kidnapped and thousands of people trapped on top of a mountain and public beheadings, it’s easy to forget how great God is.
Things feel out of control.
Evil seems to be winning.
It’s easy to forget that God is greater. The truth is, He rules the universe, so it’s not much of a leap to realize He’s also in control of all our societal machinations. Psalm 37 says
Do not fret because of evil doers;
Be not envious toward wrong doers
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb. (vv 1-2)
If we think of God as higher and over all the multiverse—and we should, because Isaiah 40 says He knows the stars by name, that because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing—then surely God is over the climate change on earth and the clash between nations and terrorist plots and political intrigue and all the other problems we so often focus on or hide from.
God is in control.
Psalm 37 again.
The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
Their sword will enter their own heart
And their bows will be broken. (vv 12-15)
On the other hand, if we think of God as Ruler of the heart yielded to Him, what can’t He overcome? Greed? Not a problem. Pride? He abases the proud look and humbles man’s loftiness.
A few song lyrics are floating through my head as I think about God’s power over our sin. One is “Marvelous Grace Of Our Loving Lord,” which has this chorus:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
The other is “The Wonderful Grace Of Jesus” with this first verse:
Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!
Yes, God is greater than any of the big institutions that crowd in on top of us and threaten to distract us from what has eternal significance. And God’s grace is greater than any of the sin that weighs us down and holds us captive.
God provides hope and help—release from sin; advocacy in our need. Once more from Psalm 37
For the Lord loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones. (v. 28a)
Great is His faithfulness. Greater is He than . . . well, anything.