Friday, January 25, 2008

The Only Savior ?

Today, the greater metro Detroit community is recovering from the fresh revelation of yet another scandal on the part of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Through the surfacing of past text messages, it has been discovered that the Mayor had an affair with his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty - an affair that both the Mayor and Ms. Beatty denied under oath during a whistle blower trial where the Mayor and Ms. Beatty were accused of firing two police officers who were investigating wrong doing in the mayors office including the then-alleged affair. This is yet another misstep in what has become a series of missteps by the Mayor who once seemed like a dream come true for the city of Detroit. The recurring nightmare of scandal stems directly from the Mayor's taste for pleasure and self-gratification and repeatedly undermines any attempts to accomplish good in his administration.

Nevertheless, it seems that all across the political landscape, there is a willingness to confer a special and privileged status to anyone who is entrusted with the responsibilities of leadership to the point of allowing them to lie, cheat and steal, as long as certain interests are served. This is a political reality that is characteristic of almost every level of government, be it municipal or national. Because of this reality, the mayor's resignation is not yet a foregone conclusion. Hopes were extremely high for this once bright political star, and many of the investors in his leadership are hesitant to jettison him even in light of this huge embarrassment. Detroit News editor Nolan Finley explains the hesitancy this way: phone calls Thursday revealed a business community desperate for Kilpatrick to survive this latest self-inflicted wound. The people whose money, time and energy are so heavily invested in Detroit's turnaround still see him as the guy best equipped to get the job done.

"He can work his way through this," says S. Martin Taylor, chairman of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. "The momentum doesn't have to stop. It may be that this prompts others to step up and work a little harder to keep things going."

The great fear is that if this latest scandal distracts Kilpatrick from his work, efforts to attract new investment to Detroit, provide more education options and bring life back to the city's suffering neighborhoods will wither. There's also very real concern that the national conversation about Detroit will move away from the city's successes and back to the mayor's foibles.

That's why people who should feel severely burned today are once again trying to work up the energy to ride to the mayor's defense.

They know he's far from a perfect savior. But at this moment, he's still the only savior they've got.

As might be expected, the nature of the charges against Mayor Kilpatrick have been characterized by him as a personal matter which should remain private. Christian themes of forgiveness and restoration are being touted as indicators that "we all need to move beyond this" and let the man do his job. There lies the problem. This alleged misconduct appears to have happened while he was on the job and seems to have had a direct impact on how he exerted his authority in "moving and shaking" the city government. Scripture indicates that though sex may be "personal", there are usually ramifications to sexual misconduct that bleed into the rest of one's life as well, especially when conducted in conjunction with one's vocational duties. But politics tends to blur the lines on the playing field and what seems like a cut and dried situation, may end as another head-shaking example of how power and money enter in to push integrity and justice out of bounds and out of reach.

All of this leads me to offer a reminder to all who walk in faith with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Only Savior. Various leaders will come and go with agendas that may or may not tickle our fancy. As one national publication pointed out, the only characteristic that any candidate for any office can be guaranteed to possess is that of driven ambition. That can be ambition for good or bad, but that is a distinction that is largely undetectable. Still, Christians should participate in the political process and seek to promote the candidate they believe best represents the values and way of life they hold dear. Nevertheless,Christians should beware of placing Messianic expectations on anyone other that Jesus. Scripture tells us that ultimately all human effort to straighten things out will fail. Yes,we must do our best -vote, serve, lead, and participate in the process in the meanwhile - but any thought of bringing about Heaven on earth is a sure path to failure and any view of a politician as savior is bound to disappoint. The old hymn said it best when addressing the source of true hope for the future:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

With that thought in mind, keep your eyes on the Prize - not the prize of political victory - but on the upward call of the Only Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Until next time,


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