Aglow International Ghana – Selling the Golden Pot of The Kingdom of God For The Ceramic Bowl of Ghana.

Aglow International Ghana – Selling the Golden Pot of The Kingdom of God For The Ceramic Bowl of Ghana.

I write this post in memory of a very dear brother, Sidney Laud Yaw Nii Sai Schandorf, who died in a senseless road accident on 2 April 2018. Sidney was one of the few friends of mine who had a keen sense of how Ghanaian culture has co-opted and reduced Christianity to a toothless bulldog at culture’s service. May his soul rest in peace.

Those of you who are friends of mine, especially on Facebook will find that I have been critical of and sometimes perplexed by the Ghanaian chapter of Aglow International (formerly called “Women’s Aglow”). But given that many of us are Ghanaian Christians are children of Christendom, my criticism of the Aglow movement seems unfair and to some people, even unpatriotic. But I’m an Anabaptist, and anyone familiar with Anabaptist history knows that I’m not the first one to be accused of being unpatriotic. So, let me explain why I criticize the Ghanaian instance of the Aglow International, and by extension, all the groups championing “intercessory prayer for Ghana”. Let me start by painting a picture of what I know about Aglow International Ghana.

      1. Aglow International Ghana

In my younger years, I knew of “Women’s Aglow” as a Christian women’s support group, gathering Christian women across many denominations to discuss and come up with strategies for supporting the well-being of Christian women in Ghana. This they did through the creation of many small groups they called “fellowships” which meet regularly to discuss and plan their activities. I believe this continues to be the same mode of operation of the organization. They were very much on the quiet, making their impact in their own way, and endearing Ghanaian Christian women to them. In this respect, I highly commend their efforts at bringing women together despite their different Christian heritages. It’s not an easy task, and I know a thing or two about ecumenism.

This was the Aglow I knew from afar before things changed. I’m not too sure when it began, but I believe it’s been a decade or so now since the organisation began bringing Ghanaian women together to “intercede for Ghana” on a monthly basis. This intercessory prayer is held at venues across all 10 regions in Ghana, including the Black Star square, one of the largest outdoor spaces in the capital. One can only imagine the financial outlay involved in this effort, including the TV & radio adverts that go out to inform people about these events. Knowing how influential and long-standing this organization is, I can imagine a lot of it is via sponsorships.

But my concern is not how its funded. My concern is what this says about the organization. My concern is how this monthly national prayer marathon shapes the identity of this organization. Because to the much younger generation of Ghanaians, the name “Aglow International” immediately evokes one identity – “that group of women who are always praying for Ghana”. And though that may sound like a good thing to many Ghanaians, this identity of being the “intercessors for Ghana” is actually against the heart and soul of the mission of kingdom of God and the calling to be disciples of Jesus.

Let me explain myself, via a criticism of Christendom. I know I use the term “Christendom” a lot without actually explaining it. There are many ways in which that term is used, but when Christians who are critical of Christianity’s failures use the term, we refer to a false sense of identity, safety and power that many Christians have inherited from the fusion of church and state, which began during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century and still exists in different forms to this day. For further reading on Christendom, you can look up the work of John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, David Fitch and Stuart Murray. Many Christian churches and denominations still operate with a Christendom mindset, hence their church members (including the leaders and 99% of the women in Aglow International) aren’t able to discern the difference because that’s what Christendom, masquerading as Christianity has taught them.

The problem isn’t Aglow International, the problem is that Aglow International is a child of Christendom, not Christianity.

      1. Christendom and The Kingdom of God

One of the easiest ways to discern the blindness that Christendom gives us is to gauge whether a Christian/group of Christians are more “Christian” first and then Ghanaian, or “Ghanaian” first, and then Christians.

You see, when Jesus used the term “the kingdom of God” in the Gospels, he was appropriating a term that his hearers already knew, but was redefining it in ways that were extremely uncomfortable to them. 1st century Jews believed that the “kingdom of God” meant the rule of the God of Israel (Yahweh) over the world in which he will favour his covenant people (the Jews) and punish their enemies – the immediate ones like the Romans ruling over them at the time, as well as the Samaritans and the Syrians; and the further away ones like Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. And yet Jesus told these Jews that the kingdom of God was defined by loving one’s enemies, so that they might be true children of their father in heaven.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:43-45)

Hence, when he was asked “who is my neighbour”, Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan, pointing out to the Jew who asked that question that the Samaritans whom Jews hated were actually their neighbours.

In effect, Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God was no longer centered around 1 nation – Israel – but was now a multinational, multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi-gender, multi-social domain across the world. Yahweh, the God of Israel was no longer interested in just one nation of people anymore, he now considered all humanity to be one, and his goal was to teach them to abandon their gods and be faithful to him only, together with his previously chosen people – the Jews. This was the number one reason why Jesus was killed – instead of preaching violence, he preached a way of peace and an identity that enabled humanity to transcend our differences. The Jews needed a violent Messiah to overthrow their oppressor (Rome), and weren’t going to fall for this “love your enemies” bullshit. Hence the leaders had him dispensed off with false charges, though he was innocent of them.

This new identity is what Jesus calls his disciples to. Of course, every human will be born into a nation and a family, an identity which they will need to own. But followers of Jesus, by agreeing to be baptised into his death and resurrection (Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27), die to their nationality and rise up first and foremost as disciples of Jesus (aka Christians) before they continue life as citizens of their country.

That is why there is no such thing as a “Christian nation”, because the church worldwide is one Christian nation. The church is made up of people who are “neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free” (Gal 3:28). By baptism, one’s identity as a disciple is now more important than one’s nationality, ethnicity or tribe.

If you find this difficult to understand, then you are a better disciple of Christendom than of Jesus, and Christendom has trained you well. Christendom needs your nationality to be more important than your identity as members of the transnational and trans-ethnic “kingdom of God”. In its benign form, Christendom breeds a false sense of unity around the nation so Christians care more about their nation than about the next one who may be in suffering. But in it’s dangerous forms, Christendom uses this to say “that nation and its citizens are our enemies, let’s go to war against them”. This is how many Christians in Europe were whipped up into “righteous fervour” in killing each other in the name of “defending their nation” for centuries on end. Christendom, not true Christianity, was the one calling the shots.

In this regard then, when a movement like Aglow is more known now for being the organizer of intercessory prayer for Ghana than for the transnational kingdom of God, the false masquerade of Christendom, which equates national progress with kingdom progress, has won the day. Jesus the Messiah didn’t teach us to be identified by the fervour we have for our nation’s progress, but for the fervor we have for the kingdom of God’s spread in a boundary-less world. And the evidence of progress of the kingdom of God is signified by growth in our love for the neighbor, even if, and especially if the neighbor was an enemy.

      1. Christendom and Abuse of Scripture

To enable this blindness to fester and blossom, Christendom needs to pretend that it has a biblical basis for existence. Afterall, once it’s in the bible, then it must conform to the will of God, right?

Therefore since time immemorial, the most obvious modus operandi of Christendom is to equate the nation in which it’s found with ancient Israel. This it does by taking passages from scripture (especially the Old Testament, which is where people always go when they want to distort Christianity) about Israel and replace them with the nation, in this case “Ghana”. In doing this, Christendom conveniently forgets that this was the case for ancient Israel in the OT because ancient Israel as a nation had a covenant with Yahweh in which every child born to a Jew was automatically a worshipper of Yahweh and commanded to obey the Laws of Moses. Modern Christians, including the “Women’s Aglow” members, will vehemently deny that they must obey the Laws of Moses, after all they are “under grace, not under Law”. But being unfortunately under the influence of Christendom, they will continuously appeal to the Old Testament as a basis of prayer topics, not realizing the dissonance. If Aglow International wants to use the Old Testament as a basis of praying for the nation of Ghana, the fulfillment of those prayers are dependent on the observance of Torah (laws of Moses), including circumcision, food laws, keeping a strict Saturday Sabbath, not wearing men’s clothes as a woman etc. Of course, Aglow International will reject this in totality, but you can’t eat your cake and have it.

So far as Ghana is a democracy, allows freedom of religions and doesn’t use the Torah as our constitution, Ghana is not Israel, and this abuse of scripture, one of the oldest tricks in the book since Constantinian Christianity began, must be condemned as an abuse of scripture. It takes scripture out of context for our own nationalistic agenda, and has been used by countlesss nations against one another in the name of “Christianity”.

The transational and transethnic church of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:20) is the only nation of Yahweh, the God who raised Jesus from the dead. And this church is given only one constitution – “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourselves” (Luke 10:27). I await the day that Aglow Women will dedicate concurrent months prayer topics to the political turmoil in Togo, the violence in Burkina Faso, the inter-religious wars in Central African Republic, the uprising in Syria, which are all affecting fellow Christian women and children. That will be the day they would have overcome the blindness that Christendom produces in caring only for ourselves, and not for the Christian body at large.

      1. Christendom and Political Manipulation

Because Christendom places the nation first above the kingdom of God, leaders of Christendom oriented Christian organisations very easily fall pray to deception and alignment with one political organisation or another, whether perceived or real.

Every Christian body is lead by human beings, who have their own political ideology. Hence, despite all their efforts at being neutral, because their first loyalty is not to the kingdom of God but to the nation, their political ideology always colors the organisation’s activities, whether they like it or not. In a democracy, this leads very easily to the alignment (real or perceived) of such Christian organisations with a party in government or in opposition, and easily creates divisions amongst Christians. God knew this, that’s why he demands followers of Jesus to be loyal only to Jesus, so they can easily discern when they are being used and manipulated by the political systems for their benefits. Because Jesus is king now and his kingdom is being experienced now (not waiting for when we go to heaven), it means Christians spend their energies caring for the world of their king and for their fellow humans as much as possible, and whenever political governments come alongside them, they celebrate their help. They however do not need to wait for governments to dictate what they should do. And if individual members do enter politics, they simply need gauge their political activity and words by Jesus’s standards, and nothing else.

But as with many corruptions of Christianity, the Christendom church has been so busy collecting money to keep the clergy comfortable whiles baying at government for not dealing with “the economy” or poverty that, whenever it perceives that one political party candidate seems to promise heaven, Christendom aligns with it.

Many people in Ghana have complained (probably falsely) that Aglow International seems to be a pro-NPP women’s group. The perception is that these “intercession for Ghana prayers” during the tenure of the past NDC government seemed to be focused on desperately pleading with God to save Ghana from wicked rule. However, since the NPP came to power, these “prayer topics” have changed to asking for blessings from God for Ghana.

In the words of a relative of mine, when the NDC was in power, the prayer topic was “when the wicked rule”, yet now that the NPP is in power, the prayer topic is “Any tongue that rises up against the nation Ghana …”.

This perception may be false, but that is what Christendom produces. When the focus of any Christian organization is not on the transnational kingdom of God and how to make it felt in every small community within each nation, but in uniting people via an appeal to nationality, it will become a tool of political manipulation. Aglow International is no exception to this rule, and is as easily manipulable.

      1. And So Is Intercessory Prayer Necessary?

Yes it is, but only as part of what a church community (or para-church community like Aglow International) pray for. Aglow International (and all these “intercessory missions”) doesn’t need a monthly prayer session for hours on end to pray for Ghana, it just needs 5 minutes of prayer in its fellowship groups for Ghana. And what should the prayer for Ghana be like? Let me give you an example.

This then, is how you should pray – Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen”. (Mt 6:9-13).

But if you still feel that this prayer is not enough (I believe it is, if you understand the Lord’s Prayer well enough), then let me give you another one, a more long winded one with “Ghana” in it, to placate you.

Father, we thank you that you have called us into the nation called the church, scattered over the world. We pray that your call to love you and to love our neighbour will be felt in every small area of Ghana where Christians are gathered, especially through the work of Aglow International women. Teach us to dedicate our lives to letting your kingdom be felt on earth, and give us good leaders in this nation who can enable peace to exist for us to continue to do your will here. And we pray these things for our brothers and sisters who are caught in war zones and in political strife across the world. Give them the patience to endure, and the strength to be faithful, knowing that you have called us to lose our lives for you if we want to save it. We pray these things not only for the faithful, but for all who are created in your image and likeness across the world, and yet who are deceived by the accuser into thinking your way is a way of foolishness. For you are God, and you are good, and in your way is salvation indeed. Amen”.

When the kingdom of God is being felt in every neighbourhood via the Christians who are giving their lives for their neighbours, we don’t need hours of intercession. We only need lives of faithful, loving disciples.

Vicit Agnus Noster, Eum Sequamur – The Lamb Has Conquered, Let Us Follow Him.

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The Politics of Jesus and His Church Pt 2 – On Ghanaian Politics

If you have read my first post on this topic, you would realize that I’m on a mission to explain to some friends of mine why I seem not to be interested in Ghanaian politics, seeing as I hardly say anything on events in our political sphere. What they don’t know is that I consider myself to be quite political, but not in the way they are used to. And to explain myself, I needed to undermine one of the de facto assumptions that dominate Ghanaian Christendom (either implicitly or explicitly) – that Jesus sole purpose was for the salvation of men from sin, and therefore Jesus was apolitical. As I have tried to point out in the previous post, Jesus cannot be called the Messiah or the Christ if he wasn’t political. A Jewish Messiah is through and through a political animal.

One of the proof-texts for saying Jesus didn’t care much about the politics of this world is his statement “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). Sadly those who make this argument ignore the rest of that verse, which shows what Jesus meant by that statement – “But now my kingdom is from another place”. The issue for Jesus was not whether Jesus’s kingdom affects our world today – the question is where its origins are. It’s certainly not from this world, but it is for this world.

So the question is not if Jesus is political, but in what way is he political? And I posit he is political in 2 distinctive ways – his kind of politics is not the same kind as the world does it (“let it not be so amongst you”, Mk 10:42) and his kind of politics involves suffering for making hard choices that the world and it’s politics will not make (“let him take up his cross and follow me”, Mk 8:34).

The early church understood this different nature of the politics of Jesus. They understood that the political, social and religious powers that hold the world in it’s control have been defeated by Jesus life, death and resurrection. Therefore their task as the church was to both show and declare by their lives as distinct communities the truth that the world’s political powers have been defeated – political powers who knowingly or unknowingly were being controlled by the prince of this world, the devil. Paul speaks of this mission below.

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Eph 3:8-11)

But since the days of Emperor Constantine, the church has told itself that Jesus is irrelevant to the subject of politics. Here’s John Howard Yoder

When then in the fourth century Christians found themselves in positions of social responsibility, so the argument continues, they had to go for their ethical insights to other sources than Jesus … Th real reason we should not be surprised that the church at the age of Constantine had to resort to other models for the construction of a social ethic in Christendom was that, quite simply and logically, Jesus had nothing much to say on the subject” – The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder.

And therefore the church made choices which to this day have continued to wreck havoc on our God-given task as the witnesses of a different kind of kingdom which had already been launched, not just waiting for the future and having nothing to do with the present. In all of these, we ignored the 2 key injunctions of Jesus, having already decided that he was irrelevant to world politics.

Top-down Instead of Bottom-up

Today, the Ghanaian church has a love affair with hierarchy, just as the world does it. This means our church leaders are more worried about keeping their jobs and pleasing their superiors than they are about serving their local church communities. In any large church structure, hierarchies may be needed. But they should serve a purpose of coordination, not of command and control, which is the way of the world. This top-down attitude also shows itself up in the classical division between the clergy and the laity. Let’s not forget Jesus was very explicit about this one – You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you(Mk 10:42).

Ineffective Local Churches

Because of the assumption of an apolitical Jesus, and hence the swallowing of command-and-control leadership, our local churches have become extremely ineffective at meeting the needs of its congregants, not to talk of affecting change in the neighbourhoods in which they are. They have become simply an extension of the brains and agenda of their General Overseers/Moderators/Presidents/Founders etc. I’m surrounded by many Christians who complain of the grave needs within their local churches and neighbourhoods. But since Jesus is only in the business of saving souls for heaven, every other non-heaven related decision must be sanctioned by the hierarchy, and the needs of “headquarters” must always come first to the needs of the mere mortals warming the pews. In fact in most churches if there needs to be funds raised for a need within that local church, it has to be collected separately from the regular “tithes and offerings” (which by fiat is reserved for HQ). This is usually achieved with further cajoling, stroking of egos and a fair amount of abuse of scripture to strip members of their last pesewa before they leave the service.

Lack of Accountability

Once we adopted command-and-control mode of leadership of our denominations, the next step has been that our local churches have not developed any strong muscles of accountability. The omnibus term “Nyame Adwuma” aka “God’s work” has become a nebulous term that allows churches to collect so much money from its members and ship it off to HQ, but no account is ever rendered back to the local churches of how these monies are used. Even if any such accounts are rendered, they are at the HQ level, and most ordinary members do not even know about them. What this breeds then is abuse – even for funds collected for the local church’s own needs.

“Cursed Are the Poor”

All the above choices then mean that local churches have no real solutions to tackle poverty in their midst. Given that the needs of HQ comes first, local churches have very little patience for the needs of the poor amongst them, and will rather invest in prayer/breakthrough/all night sessions disturbing the public peace for God to intervene in each person’s individual lives. Whereas Jesus took concrete actions to tackle poverty and hunger in his ministry, and the early church did the same, that has become the least of the priorities of local churches today. This nation swelters in poverty and unemployment, and yet the church, by already deciding to follow an apolitical Jesus and adopting as substitute the ways of the world, has no solution to this other than to behave like the ostriches described by James the Just in his letter to the church – by telling the poor to Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs” (Jam 2:16).

Segregation and Favouritism

Not realizing that the kingdom of God calls for actively undermining earthly divisions that exist in our cultures and societies, our local churches are swallowing divisions by social class, economic standing, ethnic and language divisions by the hook, line and sinker. It has come up in conversation a few times why an educated, self-employed young man like me doesn’t attend a certain church in my neighbourhood, because apparently every middle to upper class, educated person in the neighbourhood is assumed to be a member of that church. The illiterate and poor amongst us are falling prey day in and day out to the charlatans and thieves parading themselves as “prophets” and “men of God”, simply because they will not feel comfortable in a church like the one I described. This is of course not to talk about the favouritism and discrimination that is exhibited INSIDE our local churches themselves, based again on perceived and actual social, economic and ethnic standing. And all of this, Jesus has nothing to say about of course.

The Deception of Charity

To appease their consciences about the obvious lack of love and care for one another as the New Testament seems to paint, some churches engage – in a somewhat sporadic fashion – in works of charity. I’ve even heard some churches call it “corporate social responsibility”, just like the business world does. Many times they don’t miss the opportunity for such “good works” to be publicly broadcasted via the media one way or the other, typically going to some far-off orphanage/shelter in some village or town. And yet some of these churches are situated right within or next to neighbourhoods (especially in urban areas) where poverty is crushing. But apparently they are saving souls for heaven, and doing some charity, so it’s all good.

Conclusion

Given the above attitudes of lording it over one another, no accountability, lack of care for the disadvantaged, segragation and favouritism, and giving to good causes for public fame which exist in our churches, I wonder why we expect any different from our politicians, when Christians make up 70% of the Ghanaian population (according to 2010 census). And these issues are just a tip of the iceberg.

Our public and civil service is obviously made of a large number of Christians who fill the pews every Sunday and may even be church leaders, who gladly divert the attention from themselves when it comes to corruption onto the “politicians”, wheres everyone knows that corruption at these levels is legendary. The current judicial scandal is a case in point. Given that 90% of most Ghanaians who have a “European” or “Christian” first name tend to be professing Christians, its sad the number of possible “Christians” who were amongst the 37 judges caught on tape taking bribes.

This week, Professor Stephen Adei was on radio blaming the poor work attitude and corruption – he calls it “legendary stealing” – on the “culture” of Ghanaians. What many well meaning Christians like him who comment publicly about the state of corruption and political dystopia that characterizes this country have failed to realize is this. If a country claims to be 70% Christian and has these levels of corruption, it can only mean one thing – Christianity has failed to change the culture of Ghanaians in this country, and is now part of the problem. The earlier we accept that verdict, the better we can start doing something about it. The attitude of telling government what is wrong – which I often find well meaning Christians and organisations like the Christian Council of Ghana doing every day is the same old thing that Christendom has been doing since the 4th century – moral advice, not ethical action and example.

The more Ghanaian Christians assume that changing governments will solve this disease of ours, the more we would have bought into the devil’s deception of the “Messiah Complex” – the idea that we have another messiah called the “Right President of Ghana” who will solve all these problems – and not Jesus the king. This Constantinian temptation goes deep, and any attempts at solutions must go even deeper. The truth of the matter is that the church is both God’s solution to the world AND the proper training grounds for engaging in service to the world as God desires it. If the church is sick, the nation will be sicker. There can be no glossing over of that fact.

This my friends, is the reason why I write, talk and share more about church and Christianity than I do about Ghanaian politics. God’s hope for this world is Jesus and his body, not the NDC, PPP or NPP (or any other) political parties, and I believe we must be driven by his hope, not ours. Not democracy, autocracy, monarchy, communism or any other political systems of the world. When the church was under the most oppressive regime of the world – the Roman empire – it grew and challenged and changed so much in it’s surroundings by the simple act of taking Jesus seriously as its king and following in his ways, despite the heavy cost that it bore for doing so.

May we find courage where none exists to go to the root of our malaise, so we learn to understand what it means to pray “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”.

The Kingdom of Jesus and National Politics

Ghana is approaching elections again, and guaranteed the airwaves and all other forms of media will be filled with campaign activities, as well as propaganda everywhere in a bid to win the populace’s vote. Of course in Ghana the campaigning and politicking seemed to have started right from the end of the last election, and we seem to be in a perpetual campaigning mode. But just before we everything swings into full gear again, I’d like to share a few thoughts with fellow Ghanaian Christians who will be participating in this election. And my thoughts stem from a phrase I intentionally introduce in my last sentence – “Ghanaian Christians” – because that is the pivot of what I believe to be a problem.

 

Questions of Allegiance

And the problem is the placing of the word “Ghanaian” before the word “Christian”. If Jesus Christ is truly our king by virtue of being saved from the kingdom of darkness into his light (Act 26:20), then we owe our allegiance first to Jesus before we do to Ghana. I do hear many Christian friends of mine engage passionately in political debate and express such disappointment to the point of heartbreak when the politicians fail to live up to our ideals of them.

To some of us Christians, we take our political party affiliation to the point where these parties can do no wrong. Our standard of judgment is not by the standards of the one to whom we owe our primary allegiance to, which is Jesus Christ, but to our political party. Whatever our party leaders say is sacrosanct, and we must always defend them, whether we know what they say to be wrong or right.

Unfortunately matters are made worse when Christian leadership jumps into the fray and refuses to state the king of the world’s stance concerning these issues, but rather let their tribal, political lineages and sentimental attachments drive the witness of the Christian body in addressing topical issues.

 

Learning from World History

And yet this kind of posture – of letting “kingdom of the world” lead instead of the “kingdom of Jesus” – is not new. The German Christians (again putting nationality before faith to emphasize the point) did it in the Second World War, supporting Hitler in his quest to “clean out the misfits”, either by keeping quiet, or by actively supporting the political structure of the day in their quest. Of course we can all pretend that the 1 million Jews that died in the Holocaust subsequently were never arrested by the church and handed over to be persecuted, but when the hue and cry arose against the Jews, they never said a word. Alas how could they, when even some of the high ranking Nazi party members were also prominent church members and leaders? And they even gave up some of their own congregants who were Jews to show how “German” they were in their loyalty. Christian Germans (change in my emphasis) like Dietrich Bonheoffer stood no chance in drawing the attention of the church to the simple maxim of Jesus – love your neighbor as yourself, whether Jew or Gentile, Chinese or German. To this day Bonheoffer and those who followed him have become identified with peace churches, preferring to die for the Kingdom of Jesus, than to live to fulfill party or nationalistic desires.

 

And so we ask ourselves whether we are Christian Ghanaians, or Ghanaian Christians? As we have in the case of American Christians who see no wrong in anything their nation does in the name of policing the world, and who have no qualms when Israelis attack Palestinians but will shout on the rooftops how demonic the Palestinians are when they retaliate, how different are we when we value party loyalty more than loyalty to Jesus Christ? Do not a large number of our political leaders claim to be Christian? Ah, I forget. They must be NDC or NPP or CPP Christians.

I find the rhetoric about “peace” in this country quite boring, and the organization of abundant prayers “To avert impending disasters” as a lot of window dressing, to be charitable. Because if we took our king and his kingdom – which is in this world but not of this world – seriously, then with over 50% of the population laying claim to Christianity, this should be a no-brainer. There will be no need to foul our airwaves with all this attempts at preaching non-violence, because our King has demonstrated his non-violent stance in more ways than one. There will be no need to preach against hate speech, because we know that by calling a person “Raca” i.e. fool (Mt 5:22) we are already condemning ourselves.

 

Living out our Loyalty

So, refuse to be co-opted into the insults, acrimony, name-calling, herd mentality and the like. You are a Christian, before being a Ghanaian, Ga, Ewe, Dagomba or Akan. Judge the politicians by the standards of Jesus Christ, and not by the political ones of the day, whether they belong to a party you identify with or not. Remember, democracy is a good system, but only as good as man can make it. When we substitute the kingdom of God for democracy, it will become our new idol. And trust me; contrary to what your mother told you, the voice of the people is NOT the voice of God.

Oh and by the way, if the church were busier spending its money on its members than it was collecting it to build universities that most members will never be able to afford to send their children to; we will complain less about poverty and unemployment in our nation. The church will indeed have less and less a reliance on the governments of the day, if we took Jesus Christ’s maxims of caring for one another in community seriously, instead of giving to our churches to build inaccessible and unaccountable empires. This should be our pursuit if we are to make the future kingdom of Christ visible in the current age, whiles we wait for the final and full revelation of that glorious New Jerusalem coming down from above. The simple truth is that the more a people care about the kingdom of God being made manifest amongst men, the less they will care about political systems and who is at the helm of affairs. The last time I checked, Christians were supposed to live above the law (by the Spirit), not by the law (including the laws of the nation).

Indeed, we need to question our loyalties.