In the midst of all the assassinations, wars, evils and actions of the kings of Israel and Judah is a very interesting couple of verses which speak volumes about power, pride, confrontation, responses and consequences.
In 2 Chronicles we read these words:
After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God." Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.
Power is a very dangerous thing. It seduces us into thinking we have reign over more territory than we actually do. Power encourages us to break boundaries and to try to rule over what does not belong to us.
This is what is called Pride. Pride is not taking responsibility and authority over what is ours to govern. It is when we crash into places which are not ours to invade; when we break boundaries; when we trespass onto ground which does not belong to us.
Amazingly, the ones who did have authority over the temple and priestly duties in this case rose to the occasion and confronted a very powerful force. They stood together in unity and said, "No!"
This is probably one of the hardest concepts for us in modern day culture to grasp. It is even harder for us to take action when it comes to another's power turned into greedy pride. To stand up and confront is hard work.
The most common reason why confrontation is hard and often avoided is the response of the trespasser. Most often when a fence is broken by an aggressive pride, the aggressor when confronted does not humbly apologize and offer to back off from the invaded property. Instead, fueled by anger, the aggressor often becomes more, well, aggressive. More "property" is breached and destroyed, and the one confronting usually has to deal with the fall out.
The consequence in this story is leprosy, a disease which exiled its host. How true this is in reality. Crashing into places out of prideful power kills communities and relationships.
It is true that good fences make good neighbors.
Forgive us our trespassing as we forgive those who trespass into our space.
Lord, give us the courage to stand guard at our gates.
Lord, give us the grace to mend fences.