Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Die Is Cast—What Shall We Say?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

I have just returned home from casting my vote in Zambia’s tripartite elections. I have done my civic duty. The rest is now left to God and the will of the people right across Zambia. By the end of Thursday, we shall know who our (new) political leaders will be. The die is cast! What shall we say in response to all this?

The attention of the nation will be at this venue for the next two days

 Last Sunday, before I preached, I repeated a warning that I have always made before an election. Let us participate in the election of our political leaders because it is our civic duty. If we are so led, let us even stand as Ward Councillors, Members of Parliament, or even as Presidential candidates. Let us also pray that by the end of this election process God will give to us leaders who will not be a means of our chastisement but a means of blessing. Let us also pray for peace, especially because very few people accept defeat. Many will cry, “Wolf! Wolf!” even when they know they have legitimately lost.

However, the heart of my warning is always against those who get so passionately involved in the election process as if getting the right people into political office is what will turn our nation around economically, socially, and even spiritually. That is a dream that will only end in a nightmare. I recall issuing this warning twenty years ago when the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) was on the verge of overthrowing Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP). Those who thought the messiah had finally come with the advent of the MMD are rather quiet these days.

Edith Nawakwi--Zambia's only female presidential candidate in 2011
I also issued a similar warning when the whole of Africa went agog with the election of Barack Obama into the presidency of the USA. Thankfully, this was during the days of blogging and so you can read my warning here. Today, those who dismissed my warning can see for themselves that Africa has not received any exponential help from the USA since their brother entered the White House. I have noticed their tails are between their legs.

I have always appealed to Christians to be modest in their expectations of politicians. With all due respect to the promises that we were given during the recent campaigns, it must be obvious to every thinking person that those promises are larger than life. No one can deliver fully on the promises that were lavished on us unless he was God. Therefore, our expectations ought to be modest and realistic.

Rupiah Banda left no stone unturned to return to Plot One as can be seen above
For those of us who are Christians, the Bible clearly gives us some very basic truths, which ought to temper our expectations. To begin with, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Every political party, therefore, is led by sinners and has sinners in its fold. You cannot get something pure out of that which is impure. So, the hope of Zambia does not lie in the previous or the incoming political leaders.

I want to repeat what I have said before. The hope for Zambia—and indeed for any country in the world—lies in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I say so for two reasons. Firstly, it is because the gospel alone has the power to change human hearts. When Jesus saves you he turns your heart from being self-centred to being God-centred, and from being sin-loving to become a lover of good. Hence, where the gospel has done a thorough work in the hearts of the majority of people, you can have hope that you will have a better society because it will comprise better people—morally and spiritually.

The concern for PEACEFUL campaigning and voting cannot be missed!
No presidential decree, or act of parliament, or council by-law has ever made anyone more loving, or more hardworking, or more truthful and faithful. Yet, aren’t these the core values we need for a better world? Yet, over and over again, we see lives transformed by the power of the gospel from being full of hate to being full of love, from being irresponsible lazy gluttons to being reliable hard workers, from being chronic liars to being truthful and faithful. Surely, this power is what ought to excite us!

Secondly, the gospel calls people back to the cultural mandate. Where the Word of God is properly taught, people become wealth creators not by magical means but by hard work. They find fulfilment not in amassing wealth to themselves but using their God-given abilities to subdue the earth. In that way they do much good to their fellow human beings and bring glory to God. This is why the only hope for Zambia lies in the gospel.

Religious lunatics have also planted crosses on the road to Parliament
So, ultimately what matters is not who is in our Council Chambers, or Parliament, or State House. What matters is whose hearts have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray for our political leaders in order to have an enabling environment so that “all people [may] be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Hence, if Christians are going to be excited it must be primarily about evangelism and church-planting missions. It must be when they hear of sinners getting converted. At least, we will be joining in the excitement among angels in heaven. This shows that we have a real and eternal perspective on life!

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