I have had course to muse on the attitude of Ghanaians towards next week’s elections and especially that of Christians in this country. I have determined not to make a comment about my observations, but I can’t hold my thoughts in any more, and I believe it is incumbent upon me to share it with all who are interested, especially Ghanaian Christians.
First of all, I’m also a Christian who subscribes to the authority of God over every human being on this earth. As 1 Co 11:3 teaches us, the head of the woman is her husband, that of the husband is Christ, and that of Christ is God. God delegates his authority to other men, who must exercise this authority in both kindness and sternness, as God himself is.
Ro 11:22 “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God; sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”
God himself being the source of all authority, respects whatever a nation institutes as its structure of authority. This hierarchy of authority must always be respected, even if the authority is abused. It is important to note that authority abused does not render that authority cancelled. When Saul abused his authority in trying to kill David, the latter still respected him as the one anointed by God, and refused to kill him even when he had the chance.
As a result of this understanding, it has been a part of my church’s daily meeting routine to pray for the nation, whether in election year or not in accordance with 1 Ti 2:1-2.
1 Ti 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quite lives in all godliness and holiness.”
In fact, we take the “first of all” so literally that it is the first prayer topic on our prayer list when we meet. And I believe that it should be so throughout all Christendom.
Ghanaians are concerned about the level of pre-election violence, and many wonder what it will be like during and after the elections, especially if either one of the major political parties does not win. The occurrences in Kenya, until recently a peaceful nation and other African countries have jolted people awake to the reality that it could happen in Ghana as well – a fact that I’ve never doubted. It is my cardinal belief that you can never hold down a people for ever – there is always a boiling point and there’s no telling what could happen when that point is reached.
In this regard, there has been a cry raised for prayer for this dear nation of ours, especially as we enter an election period. And this cry has been very pronounced among the Christian community, with some of us sharing our convictions of the same need through emails, forums etc. People have organised all sorts of well-intentioned programmes to pray for the nation, and the false prophets are also capitalizing on this to do their part – which is to be expected. But the question I keep asking myself is at what expense do we want “peace” in this nation? Do we want peace, so that the wicked may still continue to rule the land? Do we want peace, so that the poor may continue to suffer, and the defenseless may have no recourse to justice under the powers that be?
If there is one thing that Christ promised us, it is not the peace of this world.
Mt 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
However the devil has unleashed a very deceptive message to the Ghanaian populace today, called “peace at all costs”. His most effective tool for this deception is our pulpits, using priests and “men of God” who keep pumping us full of messages of peace, when they forget that true peace can only come when there is justice, equity and truth in the society. Instead of encouraging people to look out for the godly characters of our leaders and vote on those basis, they are dulling the minds of people in preparation to accept whatever outcome there is in this election. How different are they (and us) from the generation of the days of Jeremiah and Isaiah?
Jer 6:13-14 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people, as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace’, they say, when there is no peace.”
Is 30:10 “They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right!’. Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.”
The greatest sin that any generation can commit is to live in denial of the truth of their age – to continue in the pursuit of self-preservation and self-enjoyment when there is clear evidence of abundance of injustice and inequity around them. For your information, the root of the abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah begin with these same causes. It is a classic symptom of a society that doesn’t care for each other that they finally fall into the pursuit all sorts of sensual pleasures, which in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual perversion.
Ez 16:49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
Is 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to lose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
And the truth of Ghana today is that there is so much poverty, desperation and injustice about us, yet there is a continuous effort to enrich the rich. In spite of all this, the contemporary Christian is the least bothered about it. We ourselves do not have the attitude of concern for the poor amongst us (in our congregations), our families and our neighbourhood. We have come to the conclusion that God has called “Me” to bless “Me”. Period. The purpose of God’s blessings are lost upon us. Paul reminds us of the reason why we need to be blessed in all things – so that we may abound in good works. Jesus also reminds us that we will always have poor people amongst us, and we must endeavour to see to their needs.
2 Co 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Mt 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me”
Jas 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”
I therefore find it totally unacceptable to see “men of God” on TV claiming they are praying for peace in this nation, when they won’t even mention the act of election itself and what should guide people’s choices during the elections. Are they worried about the plight of Ghanaians at all or they are seeking the praise of men for being the “pillars” of peaceful elections in Ghana? What do they want the peace for? Do they want it so they can continue to collect their Sunday offering from the poor churchgoers and live in luxury, or they want peace so that the poor people of Ghana will live purposeful lives, lives filled with hope that God has not neglected them?
To me, there are two questions that we as Ghanaian Christians need to answer. The first is what should inform our choices in this election? Going into details on the criteria for determining a Ghanaian Christian’s vote will probably take a whole day, so this attempt is only a shortened one. Ghana is a nation of Christians, Moslems and traditional worshipers, with a spice of other religions to mix. Ghana is not a nation like Israel, which God had a covenant with to be it’s God and they be his nation – Ex 19:3-6 (no other nation has this covenant anyway). As a result of this, to a Christian, character is of the overriding importance. In setting the standards for choosing leaders for the Ephesian church, Paul advises Timothy to first look out not for the “spiritual” competence, but competence in character – competence in morality (1 Ti 3) . And to this extent even though some may not agree, if one of the leading candidates for this election were a Moslem, but he showed character as opposed to a Christian candidate whose virtue is not evident, I’ll respectfully urge that we vote for him. Simply put “Faith without works is dead”. If Ghanaian Christians had been more circumspect in applying Christian and biblical principle in selecting some of our leaders, we wont be where we are now. Indeed, we must look out from the choices we have at the one who has been consistent at showing virtues of uprightness, kindness, industriousness, humility, pursuit of equity (not equality – that is utopian) and justice. As worldly people we would probably vote based on competence and track record, but as disciples of Christ the basis of our judgement should be as God will judge – moral integrity first before anything else – “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” 1 Sa 16:7.
The second and even more telling question is what should be our reaction on the election results itself? If there is evidence of rigging in the favour of one candidate or the other, do we sit down and say “Ye pe asomdwe” in the face of deception and lies? Or do I suggest that Ghana go into civil war? Far from it, because “God is not an author of confusion” and neither should anyone who claims to be his child or servant. As I’ve already established, praying for peace in this nation has been part our fabric as a church, and I strongly believe that peace in a nation leads to better livelihoods and an ability to continue doing the will of God on this earth. However, if I know my God well, he is also a God of severity and that the pursuit of truth to him is more important that that of peace. Ronald Reagan once said that “peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means”. If justice and truth are not served, peace is only an illusion. It will always come back to haunt us, so the earlier we deal with it the better. If you don’t believe me ask the people of Dagbon. What happened in 2001 has happened before, and no effort was made at truthful resolution. This generation is only reaping the mistakes of the past one.
We Christians will have to stand up for what is right. We must denounce any attempt by anyone to force their will on us. We are supposed to be the beacons of light and the salt of this earth. If in the face of abundant corruption and vote rigging we sit down and accept traitorous leadership, we only become guilty of ignoring our duty to see truth prevail. We don’t need to wield guns. We don’t need to fight the government. All we need is to get on our knees. Do we honestly believe that it is God’s will for us to live under corrupt and unjust leaders? Have we ever wondered why Christ prayed “Your will be done on this earth, as it is in Heaven”? Or have we forgotten that we have a more powerful weapon than they do? Have we forgotten that we have a more powerful God than they do?
Mt 18:18-19 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven”.
2 Chron 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, the will I hear them from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
The key to God listening to our prayers is the agreement of purpose on our side (“if two of you on earth agree”) and a reliance on the fact that He alone is capable of turning things around. Oh and by the way, we don’t need all Christians in Ghana to agree on this, just two or three. I believe that there are more than two or three Christians in this country who are willing to lay down some serious prayer to their God to change the course of this nation.
If Nkrumah wanted peace, we wouldn’t be here today with a nation we call our own. How much more we who are the sons of the Lord Most High? Are we ready to test our faith?
These are my thoughts on the issue of leadership in this country, especially with regards to what Christians should do in a leadership crisis. I don’t expect that these same principles apply to those who are not disciples of Christ, and neither will I be perturbed if these are not the basis of judgement of such people. However, even as we who love Christ pray for a peaceful election, we must seek “truth at all costs”, not “peace at all costs”. You are respectfully allowed to disagree with me.