THE CHRISTIAN AGENDA
By Namani J, Nharrel.
Initially, Christians referred to followers of Christ Jesus as a nickname (Acts11:26). Normally those were the people that believed and followed His teachings. Technically, it describes persons that have accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross as sufficient for salvation from sin. Such live and conduct their lives like Christ. Christianity not only associates the believer with Christ; it distinguishes him from the adherents of other religions.
Today Christianity is being manipulated for political purposes as it is with other religions in Nigeria. It is worrisome the manipulators either have nothing to do with Christ or are not truly related to Him. Sadly the manipulators use well-meaning, but naive Christians as their foot soldiers to achieve their goals, with no concern for the spirit of Christianity.
If some politicians feel short-changed in the political equation they cry marginalization and persecution of Christians. If the ‘persecutors’ want to shut the mouth of the ‘persecuted’, they pick up anyone not belonging to their own faith as representative of the Christians. The persecuted then feel satisfied having, ‘our own’ in the corridor of power. What these ‘our own’ do as political leaders or government officers may be poles apart with representing the interest of Christ, the Christians or ‘Christian regions’.
In ideal situations leaders who swear to uphold constitutional provisions work to benefit people of all faiths irrespective of where they come from. They plan and execute developmental projects evenly. They engineer socio-economic processes for the advancement of all the people they govern. But here people seem to see representation first for themselves, immediate family members, religion, tribes, regions and the country in that order.
It is against this background that the air is filled with complaints about a people trying to impose a religious agenda on Nigeria. Apparently Christians are the complainants and victims. Obviously Muslims are the supposed conquerors. Whether it is true or not that the Muslims want impose Islam on Nigeria is not the concern here. The concern is whether the complaints are in the interest of Christ and his church or it is politically motivated. The question is, if the faithfuls of other religions have agenda, what is the Christian agenda for Nigeria?
It is an unwise, lazy business man, without foresight that sits and lament that his competitor has an agenda to dominate the market. The other’s resourcefulness, foresight, innovations and aggressive, result-oriented, marketing strategies are not enough to conclude, unless one’s product is fake or substandard. A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Telephone company announcing the acquisition of his company by another company said, “We did not do anything wrong but somehow we lost”. The company, according to an analyst, lost for not being creative, innovative and aggressive in its marketing strategies. I wish Christians in Nigeria would honestly say, ‘we didn’t do anything wrong but we are somehow losing.” We can’t.
We Did Many Things Wrong
We had an enviable legacy to transform Nigeria to greatness. We had the opportunity to make it a God fearing, politically-stable, economically-viable and socially-desirable country. The gospel we received came with many benefits. These put Christians in positions to improve the country’s fortunes. What did we do with those opportunities as Christian leaders, politicians, statesmen, educators, bureaucrats, and business people in our spheres of influence? We divided our worlds into secular and sacred and made sure the two never met. So why is it a wonder that we are losing in many ways? We did many things wrong and lost valuable opportunities.
We Forgot Our Own Agenda
As citizens of heaven, it is appropriate we talk of a heavenly agenda. But being in this world and not of this world means implementing the heavenly agenda on earth. Christ set the agenda, “Go and disciple all the nations.” (Matthew 28:18-20). This is the agenda that transformed societies for good. We implement this agenda in our capacities as ‘light’ and ‘salt’ of the world (Matthew 5:11-14). But we put the agenda aside.
If we forgot to light up our dark worlds, do we complain that darkness naturally and necessarily takes over? If we forgot to season our unsweetened worlds, do we complain that the world goes tasteless, sick and rotten? If we didn’t use what we had and who we were to influence the country positively, what right do we have to complain when others use theirs?
A religious agenda implies an articulate plan to propagate its belief and practices. If we didn’t have plans to spread the gospel of Christ, why are we concerned that others are using the opportunities they have, albeit unconstitutionally, to spread their own religion? If we forgot the purpose of our existence on earth as Christians, do we blame those who remember theirs?
At the risk of appearing an agent of whomever, I dare Christians to ask some hard questions. How many Christians stand for the course of Christ while in political or government office? How many legitimately used their offices or positions to propagate the gospel? How many never bowed to Baal to get and maintain their jobs? How many have not eaten from the table of demons to gain acceptance? How many have not sold out their faith to gain promotion? How many are not party to the persecution of Christians who stand for the truth? How many speak up against bad policies of governments or those targeted at Christians and the spread of the gospel? When was the last time we heard Christian politicians speak against corruption, immorality, injustice and equality?
It is a wonder we never raise issues or speak to ‘our own’ when they are in positions of authority and things do not fare any better than when others are. Is Christianity just in representations in political offices and appointments? Is our concern in lopsided appointments about representing Christ or religion?
The Problem with Us
Nigerian Christians like to mix up things. We have an identification problem. The Bible admonished us not to judge anyone, however identifying those who work for the cause of Christianity and those who seek to manipulate Christianity to serve their ends shouldn’t be difficult. They subtly champion the course of hatred, bitterness and hostility towards the very people Christians are called to love, reach out to and bring into the fold.
If Christians expect fairness from any religious or world system they deceive themselves. Our complaints only drive us into a trap. Satan loves to see Christians not taking responsibility. Instead of praying for the political system to be righted he would rather we live licking our wounds and forgetting to be Christians in our reactions.
If our concerns are genuinely for the good of the country, the right reaction is to identify and pursue a Christian agenda to counter any other.
Christians Have Agenda
Christians have agenda. Why have we left it only to criticise that of others? We should look inward and trace our steps to the one we left long ago in pursuit of non Kingdom concerns. Let us encourage people to return to it.
Our complaints have a tendency to make us forget our Christian responsibility to our leaders. Christians or non Christians, we ought to pray for them for good governance. For the country, the Christian agenda is to live as true disciples of Christ and going to make disciples of others through proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. The Church need emphasize this. Christian politicians need to know this. Let every Christian live simply a Christian and as a testimony of what Christ can do in a life yielded to Him and in a nation with Godly leaders. If we live in the spirit of Christ the change we are yearning for in this country will come.
The Christian agenda though not a popular theme with the world is however the most harmonious and effectively transformational. It short-changes no one. It is about proclaiming and living the truth that brings total freedom.
There is no need for Christians to complain. Instead I suggest we raise up our prayer levels for our political leaders, for agents of rancour and disunity, and for the salvation of non Christians. Let us “…communicate Christ’s truth and grace in a more compelling and appealing way”. Perhaps we can excite the interest of people opposed to justice and freedom and, entice them towards their Creator who longs to give them both abundant and eternal life. This is not the time to give up by complaining. Let us return to the Christian agenda as a church, individually and corporately through self evaluation, repentance and acceptance of responsibility.
Namani is a christian worker based in Gombe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org