No idea is without a context and it is in the context of the 2013 Kenya elections that the ideas in this entry will be spoken of. I must however disappoint you sorely and say that this is by no means a political commentary but a social one, and I believe a necessary one. Something interesting has been happening and has happened in conversations within which ideas have been traded about. And the ideas traded about have alerted me to something I cannot help but address and has at many instances piqued my senses. Hopefully, you may at the end of reading this be made aware of the forces competing with Jesus Christ for our minds and our very lives. Hopefully, you will have already suspected what I’m trying to get at and if not I hope this entry will alert you to it.
The Question of Justice
As the 2013 presidential elections ‘hotted up’ as Kenyan media would put it and as the proverbial ‘date with destiny’ approached, people on the streets, in bars and other meeting places were having conversations covering a wide range of issues. This election would not be without its fair share of controversy considering the fact that one of the parties had in its tow two I.C.C suspects running for president and deputy president. Given the perceived progress in democracy and free speech, it would only be natural to expect that this would form the subject of many conversations and indeed it did. Here however is where the problem kicked in: the matter of justice in many conversations I heard was either evaded or in the name of ‘prudence’ shut down not by external forces but by more than one if not more of the participants in the conversation and the self-censorship complied with by the rest of the participants in the conversation.
Why point this out you may ask? I do so because this is to be expected in opportunistic societies but unfortunately, this occurred in a society that claims to have their identity centred on the risen Jesus Christ of Nazareth; these conversations took place among self professed Christians, in a country where the population claims to be 80% Christian. Much has been said in ‘serious’ Christian circles about the sovereignty of God and the way of life that exiled Israel was called to by God through the prophet Jeremiah however it would seem that there is a strain of deceit running its course in the back of our minds implying that the sovereignty of God negates human responsibility. In times fraught with indecision and anxiety, the bride of Christ and its members ought to speak plainly about the things that God considers dear to himself. We need not endorse a candidate with every breath we take, but at the very least speak plainly about the things that God is concerned about; the principal concern being the gospel of Jesus Christ and secondarily among many others, justice. Do not be fooled my Christian friend. God is indeed concerned with justice. So much so that Jesus Christ castigated Judas for claiming to be considerate of the lowly when in fact he was using them as an excuse to rob the coffers. (see John 12: 3-8) So much so that God says, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’-he does not say, ‘vengeance is ours, let us see if I might repay,’-so concerned is he with justice that when he sees injustice taking place on mankind, he calls it an assault on himself and that he shall rightly repay. (see Romans 12:19)
Allegations of injustice levelled at individuals have in numerous conversations been recast as merely obstacles to individual advancement as though human lives; the multitudes of imago dei (images of God) lost or disenfranchised are merely a rapidly depreciating currency with which our consciences are bought. I fear many of us have red in our ledger and are soon to be bankrupt. To this the church should speak clearly of God’s final and righteous justice while contrasting it with man’s inability to mete out true and lasting justice. And as it does so, it should also without fear or reservation, speak of why God prohibits man taking up vengeance upon his fellow man only to take it up himself. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Gen 1:27)
I would encourage us to seriously reconsider any attempt to disregard speaking plainly about IDP’s who were displaced in 2007, and the numerous other historical injustices that deserve righting when it is in our power to do so appropriately. Doing so would be tantamount to plotting to ‘rob’ God of his vengeance. He shall in addition hold us responsible for deliberately silencing the cries for justice in the pretence of ‘prudence’ and shall see through our charades clearer than we possibly can. Cowardice as well on our part is uncalled for especially because of the consequences he has spoken of plainly in Revelation 21:8. For your sake, repent if you have been party to encouraging these shameful things and turn again if not for the first time to Jesus Christ. Be renewed in your mind and propelled by Christ and his desires for you and I, and for this world that desperately groans for rebirth.
The Central Issue
As I listened in on conversations, it seemed to my estimation that there was a unique perspective brought to the fore by a particular worldview that I was shocked to find prevalent not just in the ‘secular’ world but in churches as well. Much has been said of ‘western influences’ and their so called ‘corrupting capability’, however, I am reminded of old ‘Looney Toon’ cartoons where in a bid to lock out the wolf at the door, Porky Pig would take the brick from the back wall and use it to cover up the door…leaving a gaping hole in the back through which the wolf could saunter in.
Before I mention it, I’d like to articulate as accurately as I can the essence of the many voices I heard and this is it: ‘The matter of justice is neither here nor there, the truest reason behind injustice if you wish to call it so, is not that we are naturally bad people. Besides, I/we deserve to get such and such because of such and such. Let me add that a threat to my own/my people’s economic or social wellbeing demands pre-emptive self-defence to kick in,’
Another sentiment I noted was: ‘Let us not talk about these things. There will be trouble and people will fight. And if we must, let us delay and stall the conversation at every available turn and in the end, ‘our people/we/I’- might just get away with this by the skin of our teeth,’
I do not for a second believe that this creature has reared its ugly head now because of politics but rather, this is the way the Kenyan society at large thinks even regarding ‘small issues’ such as bribery when you run past the red light in traffic or ‘kitu kidogo’ – given to the meter inspector who threatens to disconnect your water supply. I hope you see the creature for what it really is. This creature says ‘if it comes instinctively and will work to your benefit, then do it’ or ‘if it adds up then pursue it regardless of what others may say,’
Do you see its name in bold? Do you see it as I do slithering about and reaching for what it chooses with its tentacles into our minds? I shall name that which does not wish to be named: naturalism. Naturalism is the creature’s name. Naturalism dictates that there is no real supernatural phenomenon and that all can be explained by the hard facts, by the hard science. It is all evidentiary. As such, there is no sin and the consequences can be explained away rather simply via psychology, economics, sociology or some other study of man and by those same means and solely by the abundant acquisition of their knowledge, the problem of evil can beultimately solved. It’s not that people are bad. They just don’t know, so it goes.
Not all that is natural however, is right nor should it all be regarded as normative. The inherent problem of naturalism is that it is a closed system and is incapable of accounting for what evidence cannot grasp. It can only offer approximations, possibilities but never absolute certainty even though it tries to raise probabilities to the very level of certainty. This is the problem that we face at the street level and the academic level. How do we account for the qualitative because as much as we may try things aren’t really relative at every level? Can we truly grasp the intangible or is there another means with which to grasp it with? These are the kind of questions we should be grappling with as we encourage others to do the same. On the road to our destination, these and other questions serve merely as signposts.
Though the prevalent spirit of this age has revealed itself in this way (naturalism) it indeed has many other masks to wear and names with which to go by, and many roads on which to lead us to dissatisfaction. As believers in Jesus Christ, we ought to consider that naturalism is by no means the preserve of a particular people nor was it always waiting to be defined by academia before it could wreak the havoc that it inevitably does.
This is an issue is because it is not an issue.
The real problem for the church in Kenya is that this deception has crept into the church via the gate of tolerance and prudence. The church has unfortunately been seduced by naturalism and reared for it within its borders its unsightly brood e.g. pragmatism and a slew of other problems. Consequently in this political context and I’m sure in many others, voices within the church have elevated peace and unprincipled cohesion to the level of idols and upon their altars have been sacrificed truth, justice, honour and all manner of virtues. In not being wary of this, the church has acted in agreement with the world hence the absence of furore directed at the collective church in Kenya, from social activists this election time around. This time, the church found a way to play nice and safe by pointing the public in the direction of issue-based politics (an umbrella term defined by groups outside the body of Christ that ironically did not cover the issue of justice alongside infrastructure, food security etc) Essentially members of the body of Christ in Kenya said with secular voices, that ‘issue based politics’ is a worthy substitute for justice which these bodies outside the church for the most part offered as a talking point to replace the volatile issue of justice. And this i am afraid is just a symptom of dare i say, a greater disease.
The leaning towards the variant faces of naturalism and its displacement of Holy Spirit led conversations and decisions, is an issue because it not an issue. The church in Kenya as we know it save for a few faithful witnesses is not speaking about this where appropriate and in the future, from hindsight, Lord forbid we may be seen as a people who en masse either do not know the God they serve or do not understand what he expects of his followers individually and corporately. As the church of Jesus Christ and specifically its members in Kenya, we need an inward retreat and re-evaluation of who we are before we declare to the world what business we are to be about.