Odinga on my heart today
I often, as is possible, do make time to pray for – among other things – the men and women who lead this country (both in government and opposition).
Where there are on-going crises, I’m often burdened to pray for specific individuals and / or departments / ministries.
For the first time in three months, I this morning felt especially burdened to pray for one Odinga.
The fact that he is among the few politicians in this country whose life and career interests me lots aside, it was my conviction today that this man is in need of divine wisdom and protection in these times in our national history.
It is my conviction that it is dishonest to review Kenya’s history without accepting his well-documented contribution to it and foolhardy to envisage the next phase of it without him.
It is my conviction that he will need wisdom to wade through the many competing interests around him.
And it is also my conviction that he is in need of divine protection, even from some of the folks with him in the opposition, for this country as we know it will never be the same were anything unnatural to befall him.
In praying for Odinga, as indeed all politicians as well as ourselves, it seems to me that the following considerations might be useful:
- It seems to me that you should consider your life and its issues as being grounded in God’s story. Let that be the source – nay, the premise -of your subsequent thinking. “In the beggining, God…”. Begin from there. Seek to find and place your own story in (his)tory, – God’s story.
- History counts – Our peculiar stories count, we must therefore be alert concerning where we are coming from (a past eternity), where we are (a present eternity) and where we are heading (a future eternity). It also seems to me that you should want to be alert to your past and present so as to see and recognize the neighbour you are commanded to love.
- Be culturally literate – Know your world, its people, issues and events. Acquaint yourself with not just the fallen human condition (the Adamic Fall and the attendant implications), but also the products of human culture (art, music, literature, politics, fashion, beauty, etc). Watch, hear and listen to the world, even as you seek to listen from the Lord (exercise what Dr. John Stott has called a Double-Listening and a Double-Refusal – listening to the cries, needs and demands from both sides, while refusing the extremes and naivettes that go with it). Listen to the cutting edges of all these things (the products of human culture), even as you seek to apply your faith in response. Be alert to your times, like the Biblical sons of Issachar. Our friendship with the times (while remaining in constant, faithful communion with the Lord) and application of God’s stories will then make us be heard in the conversations at work, home, popular culture, etc. Only then might you, for instance, penetrate popular culture with the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Develop a triangulated strategy (i.e try and go beyond black and white, try and understand the grey some folks often talk about…the stuff they are not so clear about in terms of absolutes, authority, etc). You need this for Christian moral problem-solving, so that you are not boxed in and your solutions to problems can stand when challenged by the wisdom of time. Not to say you should offer yourself for a value-free moral freefall – for God’s sake stand for something. But be wise to understand what others will want to call the “Third way.” Just be careful not to be too accomodating, – we might not be able to distinguish you from the next Chameleon :-), if JC is really your passion in this life.
- Synthetic themes / the hermeneutic task – This is a proposition advanced by a Mr. Richard Hays, a theologian. Hermeneutics is simply the science of interpretation. It is a grid in which you place data, so as to understand it. Pick out the themes in Scripture and seek to explore them in your own context (at work, school, etc), but always in light of Scripture. Wrestle with issues from a Christian perspective by constantly asking yourself what the Scriptures meant them days and what they now mean for you. Develop some theology over the issues / themes in your life / context. Theology should be developed from the Scriptures, though Church tradition and personal reflections (by yourself and others) sometimes provide some thoughts for all this. Learn to think out your faith, even as you seek to live it out too.
I have God and one of my long-time mentors to thank for the grace to think this way about issues.