From the Pulpit: Corrupt power often caused by our vanity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Robust Theodore Roosevelt prepared for his role later as President by serving three terms in the New York State Assembly in the early 1880&8217;s.

An able leader, Roosevelt was instrumental in the passage of several notable labor reform laws.

His political star was rising!

Holding hearings.

Bringing bills to the floor.

Shuttling back and forth between Albany and New York City where his family lived.

Roosevelt voiced the opinion that in such an imperfect world as this one, &8220;The choice is often not between right and wrong, but a trade-off between evils.&8221;

As Jesus stood in front of Pilate, as the Gospel of John shows us today, Pilate made a statement about right and wrong and politics and power.

Pilate chose to flex his muscles.

He stuck out his jaw and spoke arrogantly to a man who was a king, saying, &8220;Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?&8221;

Like tyrants and tycoons and terrorists, Pilate craved power! What is it about power anyway that seems to cause the heads and the egos of many human beings to fatten?

Could it be the fact that power grows from the soil of vanity?

Whatever else we may say about Pilate, we note his own vanity, his own sense of insecurity.

Appointed by the Roman government, Pilate would have wanted to appear successful to the authorities.

He would have wanted a smooth-running administration.

Pilate was all about Pilate &045; all about those things that made him look good!


In the world of baseball these days, it&8217;s not about hits and runs and earned run averages.

Instead, it&8217;s all about Barry Bonds.

The San Francisco Giants slugger, according to a recent book, has been involved in steroids use and possibly other drug use for years.

But Barry Bonds, whose arms suddenly went from mediocre to major muscle, denies it.

Arrogantly, he strides to home plate.

With little emotion, he hits the home run.

He ignores the boos.

He ignores anything and everything except what Barry chooses to note.

It&8217;s all about Barry!

Pontius Pilate.

Barry Bonds.

We know about both of these men and their arrogance, their focus on self.

Vanity does that to human beings all the time.

Whether we talk about a big-time political figure, or an athlete, or a movie star, or someone in the news recently, we can easily see what vanity does in an individual&8217;s life.

Vanity corrupts. Vanity destroys.

Vanity ruins a human life.

Dr. Ron Grizzle is the pastor of Riverchase Baptist Church