For a long time in Christendom, there has been an unfounded nursed notion that, active political engagement is inherently defiled and corrupt, hence Christians who are serious and passionate about the gospel should not be involved. Most Christians are of the view that anything besides pulpit preaching of the gospel is a distraction from the Great Commission. while this sounds religiously true, it is urgently necessary to understand that we believe in a God who cares passionately about His world and the whole of His creation (Jn. 3:16) and is therefore concerned about its affairs such as, how it is governed and who governs it.
The Lord in Matthew 28:18-20, commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey God in every area of life. In making disciples of all nations and in all areas, we must also disciple people to make godly decisions about politics and governance. Nevertheless, this is not the stance of many Christians. Some prefer to be indifferent towards governance and the whole process of electioneering. In Nigeria, majority of the active and most influential politicians belong to the ‘other side’ and are at the helms of government, advancing the purpose of their beliefs. That is largely the reason why today, the afflictions of Christians are multiplying all over the country; the incessant harassment of Christian farmers all over the country by Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram insurgencies, the displacement of Christians from their original villages in Kaduna, Benue, Taraba etc. and many more terrorist actions are few examples.
While some of these persecutions may have their place in awakening the Nigerian church and increasing her thirst for revival, could this have been the original will of our God; that His people have no safe place of worship? These killings and terror attacks might go on and many more may arise simply not because God wants it but because Christianity lacks influence in Nigerian politics. It is not just okay anymore to fold hands and watch helplessly as evil men decide the fate of God’s true children. In this write up, I introduce the term “political hopelessness” to help explain the default condition of an ordinary Christian in Nigeria towards politics. I also try to charge the heart of Nigerian Christians to get involved in politics, lead and establish God’s purpose on earth.
The lack of Christian influence in the Nigerian government has led to a vicious cycle illustrated below:
Most Christians have recoiled from affairs of the government due to past experiences and therefore have developed a default mindset that sees politics and every politician as evil and corrupt. This has consequently engendered borderless political apathy. However, not getting involved does not solve the problem, it only makes Christians to be outnumbered and consequently loose in the elections. So when the elections are over and most of the seats are occupied by non-Christians, we have nobody to represent our interests. No one to stand up and pass bills that protect Christian interests and affairs as evidently displayed in various systematised anarchy unleashed against innocent Christian farmers, villagers, schools or gatherings.
As time went on, we lost our voices and because our voices were lost, our interest were buried! We consequently returned to the beginning of the cycle. And on and on goes the vicious cycle. This cycle has been on for decades in Nigeria and we have consequently settled with a sense of hopelessness having ignorantly concluded that nothing could be done anymore.
Furthermore, many so-called Christian politicians have worsened matters. They come to the churches and kneel on the altars only to get elected and enrich themselves. Such people have lost the trust of the Christian masses for they have helped make them hopeless. Reserved for them in hell is everlasting torment, except they repent and occupy for God.
In order to remedy the situation however, the cycle has to be broken. Christians must begin to deliberately strategize and put trusted people in the right positions. These efforts may not yield immediate results but at least will set the pace for generations to come. The Bible also challenges us in Luke 14: 28 & 31 to first sit and count the cost, and plan. With determination and proper strategy, Christ will rule and God’s counsel will be established. It is necessary that stable government policies that promote the preaching and practice of God’s word at all levels of civil service be implemented. It will be glorious if the government of the day sees and believes in the end time revival of the land and hands over power to the Holy Spirit to move in the lives of citizens. How can this be achieved? To what extent is this achievable? It takes having a sincerely consecrated disciple of Christ to be in power. How else can he/she be in power if not encouraged to accept God’s leading and training, and then get involved in governance?
It is worthy of note that the involvement of Christians in government through the ages is the most vibrant reason why today, we have hospitals, abolition of slavery and the practice of killing twins, modern science, the true understanding of the worth of women, regard for human life, great works of art and literature, a workable system of justice, education for the common human being, the free-enterprise system, etc. A writer tells a story of a Christian minister named John Witherspoon who became president of the College of New Jersey in 1768. While there, Witherspoon taught Biblical principles of government to his students. Of the 478 young men who were graduated during his tenure, 114 became ministers; 13 were state governors; 3 were U. S. Supreme Court judges; 20 were U.S. Senators; 33 were U.S. Congressmen; Aaron Burr, Jr., became Vice-President; and James Madison became President. As a Christian, Witherspoon exerted an enormous influence on the direction of American government. So did Joseph and Daniel during their times in the Bible. These are eloquent testimonies of men whom God used in politics during their time. What makes it different now?
As Christians, we must come to the understanding that God is interested in having His Children take over every sphere of influence even on earth. And we must deliberately determine to make His counsel stand if we truly love Him. The true proof of our love for God and one another lies partly in our participation in politics albeit, with a kingdom mindset. How do we claim to love God if we don’t engage in things that enhance and promote His kingdom? How do we claim to love one another if we don’t participate in the area that most profoundly shapes basic rights and the freedom of others? We must arise, take the bull by the horns and put an end to this vicious cycle of hopelessness. You have the opportunity to influence the world for God if you will only take it.
However, taking the bull by the horns comes with a price. We must realize that this is a mandate worth living for and if need be, worth dying for. We must be ready to loose our lives in pursuit of this mission, bearing in mind that to live is Christ and to die is gain. And also that as long as we remain in the will of God the Father, there shall no evil befall us neither shall any plague come nigh our dwelling, except it be His will. We therefore, must come to a point where our lives mean little in the face of God’s great promises. He has said, “he that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal”. Eternity is the bigger picture. We must be able to give up our lives to pursue Heaven’s mandate. If we do not come to that point, then it is better not to have started. Are we ready to die if need be? Are we ready to say like Daniel and his friends, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” We will not compromise. And the Father will fight for us. We have the opportunity to influence the world for God if we will only take it. May God grant us the courage, Amen.
Steven Kator IORFA