Those in Authority; September 2, 2021

Luke 18:2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.”

This verse is a minor detail in this story, but my sermon on August 15th was based on verse 1, so that part is in a sense a little too fresh in my awareness. This verse, with which Jesus starts out his parable, expresses a sad reality that is as true today as it was back then: not all judges are worthy of the trust and authority they are given. Legally speaking, a judge needs to be very familiar with the law and well able to apply it to the cases that come before him (or her), but sadly, the character traits that we would desire in such people are all too often overlooked. Appointments to the bench are very often political. If you agree with those politics you might not even notice, but you certainly notice when the one doing the appointing is your political enemy. I’m sure this happens in every country, but I’m only familiar with Japan and America, and the issue has been far more publicized in the US. Jesus is here specifying the character of this judge, and the way the Japanese expresses it is striking: “He didn’t think of people as people.” There are certainly people in all sorts of positions of authority who are that way, and it is sad indeed. A judge needs to be objective, not swayed by emotion, but there is the temptation for those in “superior” positions to look down on everyone else, eventually denying their humanity. That is tragic, and it is being demonstrated right now in the attitudes and actions of some US politicians and military brass in relation to the situation in Afghanistan. I won’t go into some of the details I have heard, but it is tragic indeed. In other countries it might be different, but in America the politicians and the military work for the people, and not the other way around. The temptation to anger is very strong, but this parable explicitly points out that God is not corrupt, and He’s still on His throne. He looks at each person as a person, far better than we do. This is why we are to pray that His name would be acknowledged as holy and His reign be manifested in the earth, causing His will to be done as perfectly here as it is before His throne.

This is something I have run into in Japan as well, when the mayor of Omura, who happened to be a Christian, was framed for “accepting bribes” because he wouldn’t go along with the “swamp,” and the governor targeted him. I was only in the courtroom for the closing arguments, but I was absolutely floored when the guilty verdict came down. (It wasn’t a jury trial.) The sentence was suspended, but the mayor was removed from office. Interestingly, once the statute of limitations had passed, he was elected for two more terms, and died in office. Right now, the situation in the US has me torn between anger and grief. All I can do is pray, knowing that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) I know I have no power on my own, but I also know that I can talk with the One who has all power, and I need to do that with persistence, just as Jesus was teaching in this parable.

Father, thank You for this reminder, particularly after I watched that very upsetting video yesterday. I pray that all those in the “chain of command” would fear You, and “see people as people,” so that the unjust plans of the enemy may be thwarted and Your plans fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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