[Written on March 15, 2013]
There’s a celebratory mood in Kenya. Other than those celebrating the wins of their preferred candidates in various electoral positions, there’s another, more subtle celebration. Despite many fears of a recurrence of the 2007/08 post-election violence, the 2013 elections were predominantly peaceful. The few incidences prior to the elections, were, if I may call them such, “pre-election” violence. No matter the efforts by international media to zoom in on them, they didn’t count.
We were determined to see our prayers answered.
There would be no post-election violence this year.
AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
There is therefore a general attitude of gratitude in the hearts of many Kenyans. We are grateful that no people were chased and displaced from their homes this time around. We are grateful that no life was lost out of grievances from the election results. We are grateful that God heard and affirmatively answered our prayers. There are no new IDPs.
One thing still worries me though. The fact that God answered our prayers. The fact that we got exactly what we asked for, and nothing more. This worries me.
You see, most of us prayed that there will be no violence during and after these elections. Our prayers were very specific. Just scan through the social media timelines from a week ago. People made very specific prayers. Even the controversial and questionable Prophet Dr. David Owuor assured a repentant Kenya that God had heard our prayers. But the thing that worries me is that most of our prayers were predominantly focused on a different kind of violence. A very specific kind of violence – physical violence.
We prayed that people will not take up machetes against their neighbors. We prayed that no person will be geographically displaced from his or her home because he belonged to a different tribe. And this prayer was, by large, answered. What many of us had in mind when we were praying for peace is exactly what we got – there was no physical violence.
But what about other kinds of violence? What about emotional violence? What about spiritual violence? What about political violence? Did anyone pray for these, and if we did, can you comfortably say that this prayer was answered? Over at The Gospel Coalition, I was given the opportunity to make a very specific request for Kenya. I implored the world to “Pray for peace that is not just superficial or temporal, but a lasting peace that finds its root and foundation in the preaching of Jesus Christ crucified.” The focus of my prayer request was that we would have a peace that is rooted in a much firmer foundation than peace placards, concerts and superficial tribal alliances; I prayed for a peace that is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, an inside-out kind of peace. I am not so sure that my prayer was answered, at least not as instantaneously as the other prayer for “physical peace.”
Why not? I have a theory.
ABSOLUTE HATE, RELATIVE VIOLENCE
We like to refer to people who lived thousands of years ago as primitive and savages. And why not? These people often offered human sacrifices without flinching. Some were cannibals and some killed each other through very cruel means. The wars of just a few centuries ago were brutal. Yet, upon closer examination of the progression of history, we come to realize that the ancient people were not necessarily more cruel, they were just more crude by today’s standards. The difference between people who lived 4000 years ago and the 21st century man is a difference of civilization, not a difference of heart.
The earliest people killed one another with crude weapons. Over the millenia, the weapons evolved from stone, to iron and eventually to lead (bullets). But we have a much more current weapon in 2013. Yes, it is wielded by human hands and is just as fatal as any other prior weapon. This weapon is the computer keyboard and the mobile phone keypad, and the ammunition is our words. The heart that uses this weapon is still the same old human heart. Hateful and utterly depraved. While people threw hate stones, thrust hate swords and fired hate bullets in 2008, the same people are now typing hate speech and sending hate texts in 2013.
The means may be different, but the source and the effect are the same.
Jesus confirms it;
“I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” [Matthew 5:22]
OUR ONLY HOPE FOR ABSOLUTE PEACE
Just look around. The 2013 post election violence is worse than the violence in 2008, and the sadder fact is that many of us seem oblivious to this. The number of
Internet Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is higher than ever before. Dear fellow citizens, if the only reason we were praying for peace is because we didn’t want people to die, then we may have prayed in vain. Death is not the problem, people die all the time, hate is the problem. And the truth about hate is that it is a cancer that eats away at the heart that harbors it. There is only one true solution to this kind of internal violence.
The Prince of Peace.
To reiterate an earlier post, “The true price of peace is the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. And it is in the violence of His death that we have any hope for ultimate internal and external peace on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Kenyans. Hate is real, and it’s killing us. Love is real, His name is Jesus.