“FBI wiretaps snare governor.”

“FBI wiretaps snare governor.” The bold headline atop the morning paper is the sad chronicle of another political leader who has succumbed. Living across the lake from Chicago as we do, the story of the fallen governor of Illinois has obviously become the lead headline in all our news outlets. The paper carried portions of the expletive-deleted transcript of some of those wiretaps. And U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s reflection that Lincoln would be rolling in his grave is commentary enough.

Integrity. Leader. When those two words fail to align, the results are not only sad, they are tragic.

Interestingly enough, both words play out in that midnight narrative of the Bethlehem inn’s backyard cave, in the flickering light of the shepherds’ raised torch, where slumbers the infant form of the Eternal God. Question: why would the Sovereign of the universe, the Creator of its intelligent life forms and the Designer of its galactic habitats, reduce himself to an implanted seed in a teenage womb and be born in the stench and hovel of poverty? Answer: Leader, integrity.

It is enough to take your breath—this notion that the divine and supreme Leader of all was so moved, so driven by the integrity of his love that he was willing to assume both responsibility and penalty for his earth children’s dishonesty and rebellion. It would have been stunning enough had he sent a celestial ambassador to convey his concerns. But in utter transparency, the Leader came himself, “to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss” (Desire of Ages 49).

The integrity of leadership, the risk of love—how dramatically opposite that headline long ago with the one today. But in that very antithesis is the hope our own guilty hearts can cling to. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (I Timothy 1:15 TNIV). No wonder we sing with the angels at Christmas!