On despots and dictators.....
Every time I pick up the newspaper (or the Bible for that matter) there’s always news about a dictator doing something very wrong. Historically speaking, there are rarely “benevolent” dictators, and more often than not, the longer they rule the more corrupt, cruel and self-serving they become.
The problem with dictators like Venezuela’s Maduro is that because of the depths of their corruption, the blood on their hands and the millions of enemies they have made, it’s impossible for them to contemplate stepping down and going into exile. Somebody is going to find them and execute delayed judgment for their atrocities, or, worse, the international community will attempt to arrest them and bring them to trial for “crimes against humanity”. Even if a crony despot gives them safe haven, they’re only as safe as that ruler permits and as long as that fellow dictator is in power! After all, his days are numbered as well. (I am using the personal pronoun “his” because I cannot think of one single female dictator in the present or past, Katherine the Great and the queens of antiquity notwithstanding).
Maduro, Castro (Cuba), Kim (North Korea) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) all face the same dilemma, but then, so does any man. We’re all a bit wired to be our own “emperor” or “dictator”. By fallen nature none of us want to submit to a higher authority, and today, more so than when I was growing up, youth are intellectually educated and encouraged to challenge any “final authority” on any matter in life.
The problem with “dictators” of their own souls and destiny—-and we are all in the category of despots until we yield to Jesus Christ—is that try as me might, me are never in absolute control. Political dictators surround themselves with sycophants rather than the true friend that will speak the honestly; dictators ignore and won’t listen to rebukes or any narrative that contradicts their world view; dictators believe that the only opinion in any matters in this own opinion. I have never seen, in my life-time, this more lived out on American soil as it is right now in our Capitol.
We might not be individually national despots, but each one of us are quite capable of being spiritual tyrants of our own destinies. We are all at risk of facing the ultimate consequence of tyranny—-judgment. But then, that’s why Jesus Christ came wasn’t it?….to save me from me own tyranny….to save each of us from our own ultimate destiny as little despots. And as most of you know, I am committed to sharing the gospel, at summer camp, with kids that are normally 21 years old and younger. But there’s a good reason I feel that I have been called to this. Nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13; two out of three born again Christians made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday; but only one out of eight born again people made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. Once you’re past 21, the chances are you will never come to Jesus Christ—-the dictator is too firmly established by that time to yield to another Master.
The first sin recorded in the Bible was the sin of an angel that has become the archetype of tyranny—Lucifer, aka Satan. His temptation is upon each of us to be independent of God and to “create our own destiny” (as if that were possible). If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that the longer a man is a dictator, the less likely he is humble himself and give his throne to someone else. The same is true spiritually speaking to the little despot within each of us. It’s far easier to lead a child to the King of Kings and have that child trust Him than it is an adult.