I’ve been contemplating the system of checks and balances that are in place on this global village. It becomes even smaller as I zero in on this city, but it enlarges when I see the reach my circle of influence connects. I begin with myself circa 2006.
I’m a bulk merchandiser with a Coca-Cola bottling company that has a franchise here in Nashville. I’m already on probation, and I’m about to finish with a big box retailer to head to another to merchandise Coca-Cola products on the shelves. I’ve been working since 4am. It’s 7am. An employee at the first stop rudely tells me we have “product” on a certain aisle. I go over to check it out. It’s not our liquid. I communicate this to the employee, but he tells me I have to clean it up anyway. I asked him why he had to be such an asshole. He threatens me, says he’s going to contact my boss, but there are no fisticuffs. I knew I was about to be fired. I quit before that could happen. I called all the appropriate people, and I returned my company van to the plant.
Calling my wife Carey was the next thing I had to do, and that was the beginning of the hardest check and balance I’ve ever had to live through. I’m still reeling from it. Coming clean with my sin has always been the best protocol for what ails me. I’m fond of saying that I don’t stand to fall before anyone but God, and though that is true I still have to live with consequences that my actions create. That’s part of what the system of checks and balances creates in our world because if there were none we’d have anarchy. That’s why Romans talks about obeying the laws of the land, and why there is somewhat of an order to things in place that keep every last one of us accountable to each other.
When a human being refuses to take responsibility for his or her actions they not only hurt others, but they choose to die a slow agonizing “death” that eventually will lead to a real death. If God is God then there is a right and a wrong, and the things expounded about in the Bible are true, and if we choose to do what we want then consequences will follow. There are many gray areas of life such that Paul dealt with in meat sacrificed to idols, but tension is nothing new for the things we face under the sun. Again, check and balances are essential in our walk some 80 years on this Earth. What has been will be again, and mankind will always need rest, food, shelter, clothing, love and safety. There’s a reason God created Adam and Eve. There’s a reason God continues to pursue us all where we are in life. God brings the people together He wants together at the times He has prescribed for us to be together, and though this might sound like reformed thinking it’s anything but because you cannot argue that God knows in advance what will happen before it happens.
The power of checks and balances isn’t that someone on high in human endeavors wields power for those of us peons below. The power is in the fact that we who are “strong” protect those who are weak, and in my case at the bottling company that we care for those who are sick.
Caring for each other has never been easy because if it was everyone would do it. They do not. Nurses are continually needed, and people want a paycheck without having to work. If you aren’t willing to show up when people need you to show up then don’t expect someone else to show up when you need them. Checks and balances. Matthew 7.12 isn’t just called the Golden Rule because some pastor or theologian decided it was a cool thing to call it. No, it’s called the Golden Rule because when we do to others what we’d have done to us we practice the very essence of what it means to be created in image of God.
John has quite the essay on the relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit. They know each other so well that they long for us to share with each other that kind of knowing. No wonder angels long to look into the ways of humans.
My depression hit rock bottom working for that bottling company. I could not endure one more day in that miserable job. I ripped my wife away from our 2 year old daughter as a stay-at-home mom. It crushed her spirit, and I’m still making up for that right or wrong. God says we are to forgive our enemies 70×7, and though that looks real grand on the written page of an English translation sometimes it seems hard as hell to practice. Before you throw that passage around like a baseball meditate on the context of the situation you want to use it in. Use your frontal lobe to exercise restraint when you want to vomit truth all over someone. You might be right, but being right is what the Pharisees honored above a more loving response. There’s nothing wrong with silence in the presence of someone who is deeply hurting. Do you think God is not communicating in silence? There will always be time for sharing our insight and wisdom, but be oh so careful when you do.
That’s when Job’s friends got into trouble. They had sat with Job for days, maybe weeks or months until anyone said a word.
God is not wringing His hands in desperation if you show up and give someone a hug. You have permission to sit in silence at Starbucks with someone until she is ready to open up.
Love is a complicated fruit of the Spirit, but if we cannot sit still long enough for the Spirit to communicate appropriate action or speech then we might as well worship anarchy.
Checks and balances is not a holy grail. It encompasses the Golden Rule, genuine desire for another’s well being, and a refusal to let evil have the last word.
Last time I checked in Revelation it says that good wins over evil.
I like that.