Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good and Faithful Servant: Chuck Colson

If Richard Nixon wanted something done right and done quickly, he went to Chuck Colson. Colson was not only a vital member of Nixon’s election and reelection team, he was a close friend and advisor of Nixon. “Tricky Dick” applauded Chuck for his strategy and determination, and he gave Chuck the credit for the record-breaking Presidential victory. However, Colson felt worn out after the arduous reelection battle where he had earned the title of Nixon’s “Hatchet Man.” Reluctantly, Nixon accepted Colson’s resignation, but they stayed close. The following years were trying for Colson. When the newspapers had reported a break-in at Watergate months earlier, Colson barely gave it a second thought. As the White House’s ties to Watergate were revealed, many biased reporters accused Colson of ordering the break in. Of course, Colson neither knew beforehand nor did he participate in the cover-up, as Nixon’s security tapes eventually showed, so Colson thought he wouldn’t even be indicted. However, biased newspapers and TV networks asserted that Colson was responsible for the whole affair. It was likely that Colson would be made the scapegoat despite the lack of evidence against him.

During this stressful time, Colson did a lot of soul searching. His life felt so empty after leaving the president’s service. What was there left for him in life? His friend Tom Phillips helped Colson through those troubled times. Tom had once been an ambitious man, climbing the corporate ladder rung by rung until he reached the top. A change seemed to have come over Tom Phillips in recent years: he seemed more genuine, pleasant, and joyful. Colson was surprised to discover that Tom Phillips had “gotten very religious,” talking about how “having a relationship with Jesus Christ” had changed his whole outlook. Colson found this odd. How could Tom talk about having a relationship with a man who lived 2000 years ago? Colson found the answers in Tom’s copy of Mere Christianity. Colson wanted to examine all his religious beliefs and started filling a notebook with his questions, starting with “Is there a God?” Under this heading, he wrote “pros” and “cons.” After reading C.S. Lewis’ first chapter, Colson had filled three pages with “pros” for God’s existence. Convicted by C.S. Lewis’ irrefutable logic, Colson accepted Christ.

Because of liberal bias in the news, Colson was eventually indicted along with three of Nixon’s top aides. One of the men involved with Watergate had plea bargained with the prosecution and only received a sentece of six months. The prosecution made Colson an offer as well: if Colson testified for the prosecution and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, he could get out of prison in a few short months, or maybe even avoid prison altogether. However, Colson was innocent and it would be dishonest to admit to something he hadn’t done. He did, however, plead guilty to obstruction of justice, a felony. Because of his honesty, Colson received one to three years of imprisonment.

During his time in prison, Colson started a prayer group with the other Christian inmates. This experience inspired Colson to found Prison Fellowship after his release. Through Prison Fellowship, Colson has witnessed to countless prisoners, showing them how much they need Christ. Colson is also the author of several books, including the story of his salvation, Born Again.

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