The history of humanity has been characterized by famous things turning out to be infamous and vice versa. What would have been known to be famous, often turns out to be an embarrassment to be associated with, in the future. This is just as what would have been known to be an embarrassment, also, turning out to be highly celebrated.
Only a few hopeful people could have supported Nelson Mandela when he got arrested and imprisoned in 1962. He had been subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state, following the Rivonia Trial. Twenty-seven years later, the avowed political renegade turned out to be the most celebrated hero, the world over.
It is unfortunate, though, that most of the contemporaries of Nelson Mandela could not live to see the end of apartheid. Yet, the truth still remains; it is possible for the infamous to end as heroes. The demise of those appearing as enjoying the effects of fascism can be as certain as the rising sun tomorrow. Of all the people considered as heroes, to be interred at heroes acre, who would have imagined, Robert Mugabe, not being one of them?
The half a century of my political consciousness, though not active, has disabused me of there ever being value in suppressing other people. I am not aware of any value in suppressing other people, but, that value would be as temporary as the morning fog. Ordinary people languish in abundant confusion, due to the seemingly inaccessible knowledge. The assumed providers of knowledge are themselves confused, as obsessed in their own ego, rather than value addition.
This world provides information about people who enjoy living in comfort, at the expense of the majority. But the same world displays the existence of people in abundance, living in despicably uncomfortable conditions. Such people could be richer, in knowledge, than those living in comfort, due to ill-gotten gains. My narrative invites questions about Christian sincerity.
Jesus, in whom Christians declare allegiance, showed the only way, as leading to eternal life. The question remains as to why, even the seemingly, genuine Christians, appear as failing to adopt the principle of Christianity. Christ indicated that Christians ought to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-15). Why is it that we see darkness, even among such Christians?
I certainly doubt that Christians are unable to see the wrong behaviors in political activities? The excuse given is that Christians should not be seen as dabbling in politics. This is premised on the assumption that Christians are expected to support the government of the day. This is mistakenly taken from Scriptures like Romans 13:1-5:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience” (NIV).
It is, therefore, necessary to unpack the meaning and significance of this Scripture. The governing authorities are, indeed, politicians, as implied in this case. In the Old Testament stories, political activities are punctuated by good and bad leaders, as shown in the first and second books of Kings. However, the prophets were also actively available to warn those politicians, of the impending danger, whenever they strayed from acceptable leadership.
God never tolerated bad governance, using those prophets to correct bad leadership. The role of the prophets was taken over by Christians after Jesus had come. This is why Jesus instructed Christians to become the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-15). This is a deadly excise, just as it was a deadly exercise, affecting the prophets of old.
Paul, himself was a man characterized in prison, for political reasons, most of the time. In actual fact, the early Christians were executed, due to political reasons—just as Jesus was murdered for political reasons. All this serves to take away the assumption that Christians are expected to be quiet when watching the improper behavior of politicians.
In other words, it cannot be right to suggest that God approves of the murder of innocent civilians. Christians ought to be used by God, to boldly speak God’s mind. This is what the prophets like Jeremiah and Elijah, in the Old Testament did. The mandate of those prophets cannot be viewed as being different from Christianity, whose early proponents were politically murdered. To those intending to be His followers, Jesus had this to say to them:
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward”(Matthew 10:38-41) NIV).
Jesus was implying to the threats imposed by politicians, who would use the governing laws, prejudicial to common men. His followers would be persecuted, or killed, for preaching God’s Kingdom, requiring fair justice to all. What was Paul talking about, when advising Christians to subject themselves to the governing authorities? (Romans 13:1-5). There is no contradiction, whatsoever:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’”(Matthew 28:18-20) (NIV).
This ought to be noted and applied very carefully. The one with the entire authority gives responsibility to His followers to engage in what would put them at variance with politicians. Certainly, this could not be taken as an easy task. Yet Paul appears as advising Christians to subject to the governing authorities. Could the apostle Paul have contradicted what Jesus said? Possibly, but let us study further.
The problem with our Christian leaders is their propensity to take Scriptures out of context, to suit their shenanigans. A Christian is a representative of God, as to make a difference in a darkened world. Jesus, Himself, was subject to the Roman government. The Roman government did not regard Jesus as a law-breaker, necessarily.
At one stage, His accusers wanted to create an impression that Jesus was not subject to the Roman authorities. They came with the idea that would make the Roman government raise eyebrows, had He responded indignantly. However, Jesus was above His accusers’ limited knowledge of what goes on, in the Spiritual world.
“They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away” (Matthew 22:16-21) (NIV).
A person in power knows, exactly, what would be the right thing to do, in leadership. God, as in overall authority, would have empowered that leader to know the right thing to do. This is just as any human being knows what is right. There is no doubt about that. A human being is basically good, as having been created in God’s image, after all. It is, therefore, true that those in power are allowed to be in such positions, by the all-knowing God.
But the most interesting thing is that bad leaders are a reflection of what goes on, in the minds of ordinary people. The bad leadership of Robert Mugabe was a reflection of the bad condition of the common men. The same applies of Mnangagwa’s leadership, facilitated by the grand march of the infamous 2017. Why should God be blamed for behaving stupidly?
“Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still, others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle] and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’ But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord.The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king’” (1 Samuel 8:10-22) (NIV).
The Israelites were supposed to be a model of good governance for all nations. But they lost the mettle, right at this Scripture. Like the Zimbabweans, those Israelites could not understand the idea of trusting God, ahead of human beings. Obsessed with Romans 13:1-5, Christians cannot see anything wrong with the ZANU PF government, even with glaring behavior, impoverishing millions.
Christian leaders might, themselves be compromised by corruptible concentrations. Bearing in mind that Christian leaders are accorded the honor, similar to that of politicians. This is why Christian leaders would shoot down Scriptures like Matthew 20:25-28 and 23:8-12. This is sustained in the saying: “Power corrupts and corrupts absolutely.”
For instance, those corrupt Christian leaders passionately talk about tithing, when Jesus never enforced tithing. The only few instances when Jesus mentioned the term “tithe” was when castigating the Pharisees, in Scriptures like the one below:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”(Matthew 23:23) (NIV).
When analyzing our problems, one can see that such problems emanate from a desire to be famous, without first becoming infamous. But Jesus proved that the only workable idea of achieving fame is undergoing the route of the infamous. Jesus would not have been the Lord, today, had He rejected the cross.
Those pursuing the idea of fame, without the willingness to first pursue infamous ideas, can safely be described as fools. However, in their condition of ignorance, ordinary people view such people as wiser than Jacob Ngarivume, for instance. The willingness to die for the right cause is the only thing that leads to true fame.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99