The late Chuck Colson was President Nixon’s counsel during the Watergate affair. He was an honors graduate of Brown University and George Washington Law School. He’d been a captain in the Marine Corps. He had his own law firm.
Early in his career, Colson had been proud of his personal ethics, and would go to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. He was “absolutely certain that no one could corrupt me.”
But he became famous as the “Hatchet Man” and the “evil genius” of the Nixon Administration. He once bragged, “I would walk over my own grandmother,” to get Nixon re-elected in 1972.
While Colson was facing charges for his role in the Watergate affair, a friend gave him a copy of the book Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, and he became a Christian. When he announced that he’d been “born again” the political pundits howled.
Colson had relearned the ancient truth that our culture has rejected—the Christian doctrine of sin. The problem is not that some of us are good and some of us are bad. The problem is that all of us are sinners. It’s just that in some of us, the seeds of evil haven’t yet been watered.
Colson said, “I had a self-righteousness about me. Self-righteousness is the worst enemy of all because you can’t see your own sins. I ended up going to prison because of that.”
Colson realized that he was exactly like the other prisoners. People he would have never had anything to do with before were now his brothers.
Colson once visited a prison in Brazil that was run on Christian principles. The recidivism rate was only 4%, compared with 75% in the rest of the country. Colson was wondering how this was possible when his inmate guide took him to the cell once used for torture. The man said the cell block only had a single inmate. As they reached the cell, the inmate asked Colson if he was sure he wanted to go in.
“Of course,” he said. “I’ve been in isolation cells all over the world.”
So the man swung open the door. The only prisoner was a crucifix which had been carved by the inmates. The prisoner was Jesus hanging on a cross.
“He’s doing time for the rest of us,” the guide said.