A Letter to Kenyan Pastors

What will you do when the politicians come knocking this Sunday?

Dear Pastor,

He will be visiting your church this Sunday, but he won’t be a stranger. You have seen him on television and read about him in the newspaper countless times. You have never met him, but you probably know him better than some of your congregation. He is your local political leader.

Perhaps he is the area member of parliament. Or maybe you are lucky enough to get a visit from the area senator or governor. The President? Whoever he is, Sunday service will be different today. Attendance will be in record numbers and your parking lot will host some of the most expensive vehicles to ever tread on that gravel.

There is going to be great pressure to modify your order of Sunday service because this politician is around. Perhaps the singing will be shorter, the sermon will be hurried. In the heat of the moment, it will make sense to include a slot in the service for the politician to greet and address the congregants.

It seems harmless enough. It is perfectly understandable to make an exception. Special circumstances sometimes call for special actions. But dear pastor, could I urge and remind you not to forget what the Bible says about some of those moments? The following considerations may help guide you.

1. Watch where the politicians sits

The Bible, that book that defines who you are and why your church exists in the first place, says something about where the rich and the influential members of society choose to sit in the congregation. I hope you will not forget to take the words of Jesus to Pharisees into account when that politician visits:

“Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
LUKE 11:43‭-‬44 ESV

As far as Israel was concerned, the Pharisees were like a rough combination of the legislature and judiciary today. They are the ones who were supposed to understand, interpret and implement the laws set out by God. They even enacted some of the ways the laws of God applied to specific situations. Jesus noticed how self-important they were; how they carried themselves in the marketplace and the places of worship.

How will the politician visiting your church behave? Will they seat in the best seats? Are you, in fact, the one arranging for this? Why are you doing something that the Jesus you claim to be the Bride of clearly frowns upon? Or is it actually not about Jesus?

2. Watch how the politician will give

I am sure the highlight of Sunday service will most likely be the offering. Come on, with such record attendance, and with people overflowing that some are even standing outside the building just to catch a glimpse of their leader, the offering baskets will be bulging today. It is inevitable.

Buy I am not concerned about that. My concern is something else Jesus said about the same Pharisees that are the parallel to today’s politicians:

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
MATTHEW 6:2‭-‬4 ESV

Is this what the politicians visiting your church will do when it is time to give? Or maybe I am being too critical. The truth is these politicians are human, like you and I. They are also sinners. It would be unfair of me to expect them to stick to a higher biblical standard than other people. What if they want to announce their giving to your church? Who am I to judge?

But my concern is with you, dear pastor. You know better. Will you give these politicians a platform to do what Jesus clearly frowns upon? Will you change up your service to allow the politicians announce his donation for your upcoming church project? Will you give your your pulpit for the man or woman to say a word about what he has done for the community? Would you rather please man than God?

3. The sheep are watching the shepherd

In the end, this is more than just a matter of personal preference and opinion, dear pastor. You have a responsibility towards us, your sheep. And you will one day have to give an answer to God. As the Bible clearly puts it:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
HEBREWS 13:17 ESV

Clearly, God wants us, the sheep, to obey you and submit to you. When you allow God’s word to be disregarded and God’s name to be blasphemed by endorsing some of these actions in the church, we find it difficult to obey God. It is hard for the sheep to take their creator seriously when the shepherd doesn’t seem to be doing it.

Dear pastor, please consider God this Sunday and the coming Sundays as you navigate the rising political temperatures in the country. The pressure to fear man rather than God will be high. Your reputation before the world will be at stake. Would you rather please men than God? I hope you will do the latter.

If you care about us, the followers of the Jesus you preach, you would consider these things. It will be difficult. Money is powerful, and the love of it can be tragic. You cannot resist public opinion on your own. I understand that, and for this reason, I will be praying for you.

I hope you do the right thing. I hope you will fear God enough to keep His commandments.

Was Jesus a Failed Teacher?

It might sound like a feeble attempt at crafting a captivating title, but it is not. The question of whether or not Jesus was a failed teacher is a valid question, one based on clear facts. The reason the question appears a bit off is because we are trying to answer it in hindsight. In hindsight, Jesus is the greatest teacher to ever walk on earth. No “founder” of any religion comes close to the following that Jesus garnered. But what if we were transported to the times of Jesus and attempted to answer the same question honestly?

We would all conclude, honestly, that Jesus was a failed teacher. And miserably so.

jesus teachingIndeed, he used all the tactics, tips and tricks available in his teachings. In his three year ministry, he applied both the extremes of harshness and kindness in his teachings; he spoke of hell-fire and hugged children; he cleared out the temple in a rage and fed the hungry; He spoke curses at hypocrites and prayed for his enemies.

He did all these and more, but what was the outcome?

By the time he was crucified, three years into his ministry, only a handful of people rallied behind him.

Despite feeding more than 5,000, less than a hundred people still followed him by the time he died.

Even his closest students abandoned him and went against his teachings. After three years of following and learning from him. Peter still denied him, James and John wanted privileged positions, and Judas sold him out to his enemies.

So, was Jesus, in his lifetime, a failed teacher? Continue reading

The Violence of Peace

When we look at other African countries plagued by wars similar to those in Kenya (such as tribal conflicts), those who have attained peace (albeit an imperfect peace) had to pay a great price for that peace. Come to think of it, the fight for peace is really a fight for freedom, and it is only when freedom is attained that peace is consequently realized. All men desire peace, but very few of us ever bother to think about the cost of peace. The price that Kenyans had to pay for freedom is that same price that we have to pay for peace today. Peace walks, placards, graffiti, concerts and conferences are all welcome approaches, but they are often insufficient. In the world we are living in, the reality and effects of sin cannot be denied.

PEACE ISN’T FAIR

No raila No peaceThe human heart is bent on chaos, and all the places that claim any semblance of peace, only claim so because violence is suppressed, not because people have willingly conceded to be peaceful. We may currently admire Rwanda for its peaceful streets, but we cannot ignore the heightened security, and the high number of security officers at every street corner in the country.

In this world, as long as sin remains, the most effective solution to the peace problem is not dialogue, but the law. Of course, peace that is attained through suppression of violence is not true peace. But it is a visible, external peace, a preliminary peace if you like. Peace does not mean that people have nothing to fight about, peace means that people choose (or are made) not to fight. Peace, like forgiveness, means giving up the right to hurt others for hurting you. It means not repaying evil for evil. It means withholding justice. Yes, peace on this fallen earth isn’t fair. Continue reading

The Truth About Peace in Kenya

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” [Matthew 10:34-36]

PeaceIt is exactly 2 weeks to the Kenyan General Elections. Next month, Kenyans will March 4th to a new government and leaders. One of the greatest immediate fears, as the day approaches, is whether the elections (the post-election days) will be peaceful or not. The memory of 2007/08 post-election violence is still fresh on our minds. For many, these memories are only disturbing news items that they witnessed on television from the safety of their peaceful neighborhoods. For some of us, the memories are much more real. Personally, I can no longer call Eldoret home, even though that is where I was raised and schooled. But for all Kenyans, the sincere plea on our lips is a plea for peace. We may be divided on who we want to be the next president, but we are united in echoing this prayer from our National Anthem:

“May we dwell in Unity, Peace and Liberty”

Continue reading

What President Obama Aborted from His Inaugural Address

obamaAs I listened to President Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, I couldn’t help but notice a Great Omission (well.. several recurrent omissions) which trailed throughout the speech.

The reason I noticed the omission is because the President chose to root his speech on a fundamental claim of the Declaration of Independence. These were his opening remarks:

What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Continue reading

Jesus; Government and March 4th 2013

God-and-government

1 Timothy 2: 1-2 I urge then that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (giving of thanks) be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we (the people of God) may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness

Recently, I seem to have acquired some new found zeal for contemplating the matter of leadership in Kenya (Yes, zeal to think about this issue). Now, I’m no expert on the matter of Kenya’s political leaders (perhaps that’s obvious) and I certainly don’t know enough about our history and the myriad of issues that affect leadership to offer an extensive commentary on that subject. That aside, I generally feel, as many Kenyans do, the need for better leaders; leaders who do not yield to corruption. Leaders who are upright, full of integrity, informed, committed to service etc. Basically, leaders who satisfy the definition of leadership! Continue reading

Is a Kenyan Jubilee Biblical?

There’s a reason why the New Testament is placed after the Old Testament in our Bibles; and this reason is not just that the events in the Old Testament took place before the events in the New Testament. This reason that I am particularly referring to also happens to be the reason why Leviticus 26 is written after Leviticus 25 (Leviticus 25 outlines the instructions for observing the year of the Jubilee while Leviticus 26 outlines the consequences of obeying or disobeying these instructions). This reason that I am referring to is recorded in the book of Romans: Continue reading