From Jim O'Brien
April 19, 2019

The Worst Tyranny

Hi Friend,

Throughout history the overarching goal for every great statesmen has been to create a virtuous society. How do people come together to live in peace, build a fair and just community and leave a legacy for their posterity?

The first order of business is to create good laws. Moral laws are the cornerstone of a peaceful and harmonious community. But rules don't make people righteous. In our striving to be better people it's easy to forget that the most righteous men in the Bible were sinners. And the Bible doesn't hide their failures or gloss over their failings.

The record of history reveals a glaring and frightening truth-the worst tyrants of times past were convinced of their own goodness.

Jesus reserved his most serious condemnation for the religious teachers and Pharisees of his day. He excoriated them for using a scale to weigh the leaves of mint and powdered anise and cumin while omitting the weightier matters of the law. One would have expected that Jesus would have followed this statement by saying the serious matters of law were murder, adultery or maybe political injustice. All those are more egregious sins than not tithing on a leaf or a pinch of spice.

A thoughtful person may be forgiven by being shocked by what Jesus calls the weightier matters. They are justice, mercy and faith. (Matt. 23:23) On first blush it would seem that mercy is at the opposite end of the spectrum from law. Yet the goal of law is justice-and no nation can be considered civilized without mercy.

Why is that? C.S. Lewis may have explained it best when he wrote, "Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies."

Lewis went on to explain that an evil person has a price-at least a bribe will buy him off. Give him money and he will leave you alone. But there is no limit to what a morally superior tyrant will do. Such a Pharisee will not be satisfied until his victim is destroyed.

One of the saddest realities of religious organizations is the ability of moral tyrants to rise to the top of the political ladder and destroy their peers. Remember, it was religious men who murdered Jesus because he broke the Sabbath and forgave sin, thus making himself equal to God. It was secular Pilate who found no fault with Jesus.

On the other hand, Jesus was known for mercy. When the woman taken in adultery was thrown on the ground before him, the moral busybodies were the accusers but Jesus forgave her.

He is, after all, the Sacrificial Lamb whose blood was shed at Passover. Why didn't God choose Lucifer for that job? The answer is as profound as it is simple-Satan was the "accuser of the brethren", the prosecuting attorney, the one who condemned righteous Job.

Oddly enough, it was Lucifer who personified the moral busybody described by C.S. Lewis.

Thank God for mercy. Thank God for the Passover Lamb.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien