Christians must heed God, not their leaders!
Reading and listening to recent statements by various church leaders on the law review process, ordinary Christians and Kenyans at large may genuinely be at loss on what has become of a people that are often clearly decided on temporal issues of the day as well as eternity.
Church leaders in this country have played an indisputably vital role in agitating for a new political and constitutional order, going as far back as the 1980s and 1990s when the likes of Dr. Henry Okullu and Bishop Alexander Muge would give the establishment a prophetic earful.
No doubt history will also take a favorable note of the times, money, effort and prayers other Christian leaders subsequently put into the law review process.
But I doubt historians – and the Christian God I also believe in – will suffer their on-going “chameleoneosis” on the same any gladly.
The reportedly 43-member Kenya Church declared a clear “No” to the Wako draft a few weeks ago only for some of their members (who had been attending meetings leading to the announcement) to later say they weren’t decided yet; they still need more time to study, consult and – supposedly – pray before making up their minds.
It is instructive that a majority of these Churches went easy on the review process in the Kanu days and are reportedly still at home with remnants of the previous regime in the current scheme of things.
On the other hand, the influential Roman Catholic Church and congregations affiliated to the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Ufungamano Initiative have been reported to have given the Wako draft a shot in the arm by declaring it “better” than the current one and “worthy” for consideration by Kenyans, – but with a rider: Each Christian is to follow his conscience in voting either for or against the proposed constitution.
Like the Kenya Church, this latter section of Kenyan Christianity has increasingly been identified with pro-establishment ideals and projects in the Narc days, leading some to question the nature and extent of its biblical authority on some issues of the day.
One need not be a prophet or even a believer to realize that both sides of the Christian divide have been sucked up in the Kanu-LDP/NAK power games to the extent that they can no longer speak truth to power.
Reactions to the Wako draft by the two streams of Kenyan Christianity betray a desperate desire to remain relevant and loyal to evolving political constituencies and ethnic power-bases in ways and means similar to the politicians they so much want us to believe they are unlike.
The unspoken but latent line in what these men and women of the cloth nowadays seem to pass on is that true power lies not on that old and rugged cross but in the corridors of raw political and economic power that, in the worst of times, they preach is no comparison to the 6,000-years old Christian story.
To blindly laud one side for saying “No” or the other for staying non-committal while pursuing “civic education” is to miss the one salient point here: These shepherds have, by both choices, abandoned their flock and sought to pursue the paths of least resistance; paths that will not invite them to review their theology and practical commitment to a honest world vision that the review process obviously requires of them.
Apart from glossing over the Wako draft and playing up to the gallery on issues they say are dear to them, none of them has offered to – say – characterize the document in light of the Scriptures they believe in.
How, for instance, would the presidency, judiciary and legislature as envisaged in the proposed draft specifically jell in with the Christian ideal of public affairs and social justice?
No doubt there is a viable body of Christian knowledge and tradition on all these matters, but why aren’t they getting all that flowing?
Certainly, God is not silent in our world and neither should they be by either of the paths they have chosen to tread.
The saddest commentary here is that they seemingly do not appear to be learning from the disastrous experiences occasioned by such Christian bigotry and selfishness as has been exhibited in recent Church history.
In Nazi Germany, the “official” Church cohabited with Hitler as the likes of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned of the accruing apostasy in the face of the Holocaust; many would later wish they had heeded the young man’s call to Christian, intellectual and moral honesty in the face of reflexive nationalism and lopsided patriotism.
In 1960s America, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants wondered why Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jesus would be so concerned about the civil rights’ movement so many years after the war of independence.
In 1994 Rwanda (reportedly 80.83% Christian), the depth of discipleship there continues to draw increased scrutiny in the face of mounting allegations that Hutu and Tutsi Christian leaders may have knowingly played a role in the genocide.
As it is, the Church stands to be a victim of its own short-sightedness and political short-termism (engineered by the ruling class) in a process it previously shepherded but now, and belatedly so, considers flawed and fraught with “concerns” about which they now are seeking “further clarification.”
Clearly, it had a historic and strategic responsibility to help distill the process and content from the competing visions around it and the obvious political and religious interests vested therein.
Reflecting on this, writer Pamela Evans once remarked: “Church leaders who have a little sense of their own worth before God’s sight can over-value popular acceptance of their own ministry to such an extent that they develop a chameleon-like character, serially reflecting the many colors of opinion within their Church. Trying to serve God faithfully and keep everyone happy simultaneously doesn’t work. Infact, it often leads to paralyzing indecision, accusations of compromise or both. God doesn’t award prizes for window dressing competitions or popularity contests. So why do we behave as though he did?”
In his seminal book The Contemporary Christian, theologian John Stott sums it up well when he says: “I fear that contemporary Church leaders are guilty of serious unfaithfulness. A few are brash enough to deny the fundamentals both of the historic Christian faith and of traditional Christian morality, while others seem as blushingly unsure of themselves and of their beliefs as an adolescent teenager.”
Need I say more?
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