For you to move the dial in a democracy you must have numbers, money, intellect, structure and network. The church has all five elements and yet she’s politically weak. The question is, why? There are a number of reasons the church is politically weak. Some of the factors are structural, some conceptual.
The first problem the church has is model. The model operated by most ministries is conceptually wrong and not in accordance with God’s reasoning. The church is operating a centripetal model instead of a centrifugal model. Our spokes are radiating inwards rather than radiating outward. The work of the pastor is to train the people to do the work of the ministry. He’s not to do the work. Ephesians 4:11-12. In God’s scheme those called into ministry are HR development consultants. They’re to train people to function OUTSIDE the Church. The work is not in church. We’re the salt of the earth not the salt of Church. Our theatre of operation is society. The Church has distorted God’s model. And in so many ways. First we give the impression only pastors are called, the people are not called. Which is of course untrue going by several passages in scripture. Mark 16:17-18, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:30. In upturning God’s model we converted the people to mere enablers. And so the church is limited to a factor of one – the pastor. However in the model envisaged by Jesus the church is supposed to leverage on the totality of her human resources in order to radically progress society. Where are our economists, where are the strategists, where are the policy analysts, etc? When these talents are thematically purposed the church will gain credible heft.
The second reason the church is politically weak is our disdain for intellectualism. We’ve managed to label intellectual reasoning anti Spirit, and that’s most unfortunate, if not ironical. Strategic political outcomes leverage on intellectual strength. You can’t turn the fortune of a nation around without intellectual prowess. Progress is not accidental. There’s no nation that progresses without strategic blueprint. Not even the Christian nation. It’s why God raised Paul. Paul disciplined Christian theology, gave us rules for reconciling the Old Testament with the New. It was Paul who created the organogram of the church. It’s what we’re still using today, 2000 years after. Tells us how well thought out it is. Without the organogram Paul created the church would not have grown in a methodical manner. The growth would have been shambolic and capped. That organogram created standards. It came accompanied with an HR manual for recruitment to ministry. Peter could not develop the theology of the church; neither could he develop the administrative organogram. It was way beyond him intellectually. That God made Paul write three-quarters of the New Testament gives us an inkling into God’s idea of the church. The message may be simple but the church is a sophisticated institution.
Christianity is predicated on the logical sequencing of at least 4,000 years of human history. It goes without saying the Holy Spirit is an intellectual. It was he after all who inspired the writings of Paul. Paul wrote like a lawyer. He was the first Christian apologist. He would lay down elaborate schemes of premises to arrive at conclusions. For example, Paul picked up an argument in Romans 1 and ended the argument in Romans 8:1. It’s why Romans 8:1 starts with “Therefore.” “Therefore” indicates the conclusion of an argument. And lest we think Paul was the only one with intellectual insight, Apostle John also had. He advanced the concept of the Logos. It was an intellectual leap of faith. The Logos was not originally a Christian concept. The man who first heralded the subject of the Logos was an eccentric philosopher named Heraclitus. He lived in the 6th century BC, long before John wrote his treatise, and long before Christianity. Heraclitus saw the Logos as “everlasting Word”. He conceived the Logos as an organising principle. And so when John said Jesus was Logos he was referencing Heraclitus. John wrote that Jesus is the “eternal Word.” Paul also referenced Heraclitus. Heraclitus wrote that all things come to pass in accordance with the Logos. Paul wrote concerning Jesus that “by him were all things created, and without him was nothing made that was made.” Colossians 1:16-20. The incredible intellectual leap by John was his assertion the Logos was not a principle but a personage. His name is Jesus. The inability of the Nigerian church to process her thoughts intellectually has robbed her of strong say in the policy arena. It has also robbed the church of strategic presentation of her agenda. What exactly is the agenda of the church? As elections approach politicians seek the endorsement of the church. We know what they want; but what does the church want in return?
The third reason the church is politically weak is because of unhealthy rivalry among pastors. There’s no unity. There’s so much schism in the body of Christ. A house divided against itself is structurally weakened. There’s envying, backbiting, backstabbing, destruction of ministries by proclamations… My church is bigger than yours, my congregation is more than yours, my church is more prosperous than yours… These are not God’s indices. We came up with them. Pastors need to put their ego in check. No one owns the church. You may own the building but you cannot own the church. The church is the mystic body of Christ. None of us went to the cross. None of us died at Golgotha. Even if you want to go to Golgotha you won’t qualify. None of us is unblemished. Jesus owns the church not us. He died for her.
The fourth reason the church is politically weak is because of moral bankruptcy. This robs us of moral authority. If we must be honest with ourselves some ministers have gone the way of Balaam. They’re blinded by the pursuit of riches. Some ministers see ministry as a means to acquire wealth. They foster on the congregation self-serving and unbalanced rules of prosperity. The result is that some young Christians don’t value diligence or hard-work. Their values are messed up. The recent backlash over tithes is a reflection of these issues. There was disappointment over the results of half-baked theology on prosperity. The people are not theologically adept. And now a whole generation is threatening to throw out sound biblical principles.
The fifth reason the church is politically weak is because the church does not appreciate political context. We do not pay enough attention to what’s going on in government. It is foolhardy not to pay attention to political context. There’s the threat factor. If you’ve studied history you’ll notice the penchant of the enemy to blame the church for the failures of the state. Nero pinned the burning of Rome on the church. 99% of the prayer points of the average Nigerian is predicated on policy failures. We pray to buy generator because of inadequate supply of electricity. We pray for all terrain vehicles – what we call jeeps, because the roads are bad. We pray for God’s protection because our law and order is not efficacious. We pray for money to send our kids to good schools because of the failure of our education policy. We pray for divine health because our hospitals are in poor state. Our doctors have emigrated to other countries. 99% of our prayer points are as a result of policy failure.
Our definition of prosperity is attaining what is basic standard of living in other countries. Yes, we can teach the people principles of Biblical prosperity in church but we need to pay more attention to the issue of public wealth. It’s okay to teach prosperity at retail level but China lifted more than 500M people out of poverty by focusing on public wealth. Compared to the absolute figures on poverty in the country the church is bailing water out of a sinking boat with a soap dish. We need to face the issue of poverty in the larger polity in order to stem the tide. We must stop the boat from sinking. Our poverty statistics are scary. Zamfara state is 91.9%, Yobe is 90.2%, Jigawa 88.4%, Bauchi 86.6%, Kebbi 86%, Sokoto 85.3%, Katsina 82.2%, Taraba 77.7%, Gombe 76.9%, Kano 76.4%.
The sixth reason the church is politically weak is because the church does not appreciate her central role in society. Nothing sums this up better than Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “God raised (Christ) from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG. What Paul is saying is that the Church is the nucleus of society. The apostles never lived to see that vision fulfilled. They never experienced the political ascendance of the church. If the church is the nucleus of the society what then are Christians doing on the fringes of society? Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG. If the church is the nucleus of society why aren’t our thoughts determining the direction of the nation? Where are the policy documents from CAN – Christian Association of Nigeria?
We can therefore define a strong church as one capable of negotiating from a position of strength with extant power blocks, and able to determine executive and political outcomes.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.We’re the salt of the earth not the salt of Church. Our theatre of operation is society. Click To Tweet