Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thinking Christianly About our Mayor

Thinking Christianly About our Mayor

In the last few months, our city has been beleagured by news about our Mayor that has given talk show hosts and journalists plenty of fodder. Twitter is all a-flutter and one can't avoid the topic on Facebook. Every time we turn on the news, we see another depiction of a grown man who is either enraged, drunk out of his gourd or making sad excuses for his behaviour.

Christians have reacted in different ways. Those with an over developed sense of compassion cannot abide any criticism of him. I saw one person responding to a Charles Adler column about our mayor in which he had mispelled a word.  She criticised him for the mispelling and suggested that he learn how to spell before criticising others, as if a spelling mistake was morally equivalent to drunkennes, lying, morbid obesity and smoking crack. Many of those Christians in my city who help make up Ford Nation are standing by their man because they are conservative and helped vote him into office and are trying hard to overlook everything else. Talk about an elephant in the room!

 Others are reacting almost in glee at the revelation of yet another embarrassing episode of this broken man and provide us with links to news articles, in case we have missed it.

What are we as Christians to make of this whole affair? How do we respond in a Christ-like manner?

1. We are, and always have been, obligated to pray for Rob Ford. To pray for a man in office does not mean we endorse his politics, so whether you are Conservative, Liberal or NDP, your first loyalty is to Christ, and Him we must obey who commanded us in His word to pray for those in leadership. Pray that God would have mercy on this man and his family and would lead him to a place of profound repentance and conversion to Christ. If ever we had a living example of a fallen man who is in need of transformation, this is it.

2. We must learn that civic leadership is about more than the money. It is about exemplary character. Perhaps because it has been a long time since we have seen exemplary character in the mayoral office that we have forgotten this salient point, but it becomes a stark point that is brought home to us powerfully when there is an abject failure of character in that office. We cannot simply repeat the mantra that Ford has "stopped the gravy train" or that he is saving us  tax dollars, as if money is our ultimate value. Wealth retention is NOT the Christian's ultimate value. Righteousness is.

How many drug addicts today have sunk even lower in their self-justified rationalizations because of the example of our mayor? How many have even less respect for the law, after seeing the leader of our city treat our laws with such flagrant disregard? What kind of impact does an example like this do to the countless number of adolescents whose values are not yet formed and who have no strong examples at home?  The potential for damage done to these young lives cannot be measured. Character still matters. If the mayor's office is just about reigning in expenses, we could have simply appointed an accountant to the office. Why didn't we? Because that office is about far more than saving the taxpayer dollars.

3. To call on him to step aside in order to get help is not an unchristian thing to do. If as a pastor I were guilty of a gross moral failure, stepping aside if not completely stepping down while working on the essentials of restoration is the only right thing to do. A desire to hang on to power and control is only further evidence of the dysfunction that leads to moral failure anyway.

4. Pity the man, but if you voted against him, let's stop the Schadenfreude (enjoying someone else's demise). One day God will have the last word and He is the ultimate Judge who does everything right. One of the most oft misappropriated verses in the Bible is that verse where the Lord tells us not to judge, lest we be judged with the same measuring stick that we ourselves have used. This is NOT a prohibition against speaking out against public drunkenness or getting stoned on illegal substances. In fact the children of our city need to hear this message loud and clear as they watch the videos and read the news - No - this behaviour is NOT okay.

5. Recognize with humility that we are all made of the same stuff. We tend to demonize those who are caught in gross sin. We do this to assure ourselves that we are very unlike them. But this is a deception. Quite the opposite is true. We are all made out of clay. We all have the same capacity to sin and wickedness.

6. Move on. The news channels, talk show hosts and the comedy circuits will continue to show the same news clips and videos time and time again. There is an episode in the Bible where the sons of Noah walked into their father's tent backwards with a blanket to cover their father's shame. Whatever else was going on there, it was the right thing to do. Let's not be party to the ongoing embarrassment and shame of another human being. I am not saying that we ought to cover up sin, but we should not contribute to the shame of the man. He has plenty of that by his own doing. He doesn't need our help. Let's look away. and let's look up to where our real help and leadership comes from.