Good or bad,our God gives us equal chances

My girl-child is fond of long stories, so I have learned to look like I’m listening when I am not. One night, as I was falling asleep in the middle of one of her winding tales, she yanked me back from the brink with a sharp jab to the eye, and a really odd question for a 5-year-old.

“Do you know Jesus?” she demanded. I was confused, but intrigued. Until then, I was pretty sure she didn’t know him either; well, his name at least. Not because I’m raising a heathen, but because she is much closer to God than I am and I don’t want to spoil the purity of that relationship with religion.

“Who?” I asked, feigning ignorance.

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“I’m not sure, maybe …”

“Heh! You don’t know Jesus? He’s the son of God!!”

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My confusion had faded at this point, but my daughter was genuinely concerned that I seemed unaware that God had a Son, and his name was Jesus. Nevertheless, she promptly fell asleep, leaving me in a deep state of reflection about the meaning of life, and the existence of a higher power.

I know Jesus very well. I know him from history and from faith.  I am intimately acquainted with his personhood, just like people of other faiths are acquainted with their deities, and non-believers are acquainted with their reasoning.

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I just have a very complicated relationship with God in general. The God that I know, that is. The one who causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Good deed

That means that he is well aware of evil and injustice, but allows them equal opportunity to operate. His acceptance of all things and all people is unconditional, which should be a good thing, except when you live in a country where no good deed goes unpunished, while evildoers get away with murder.

Over the past few days, mentions of the Kiambaa church massacre have been popping up on all my social media feeds. I want to believe that it is coincidental, or prompted purely by the release of Peter Mbuthia’s new book, but that would be naïve.  More than likely, there’s an ‘Olivia Pope’ behind the scenes, capitalising on one of the most tragic events in Kenya’s recent history just to score a political point.  

The massacre, which became one of the defining moments of the 2017/2018 post-election violence, has become political property - either an asset or a liability, depending on what you did or didn’t do. It is now a weapon of political warfare in total disregard for the indescribable horror of the event itself. Men, women, and children were burned alive in that church, but that hasn’t stopped political operatives from using the memory of Kiambaa to light fires under their opponents.

Truest sign

The biggest irony for me is that those people were murdered in a church, just like so many other innocents in the history of humanity. Churches should be places of refuge, safe places where mortals can escape from a wicked world, and find solace in the presence of God. So, when bad things happen there, they strike right at the heart of all that is good.

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Churches are supposed to be beacons of goodness. They really ought to be and yet we all know they are not. Bloody massacres within their precincts are just a visible symptom of how low they have sunk in our estimation. But the truest sign that good has left the sanctuary is the chipping away of original church values like love, charity, service, selflessness and humility; to the point that churches are now known more for the exploits of their pastors, than the godliness of their congregations.

Also, when you see political leaders doing the rounds on the church circuit and church leaders accepting their dirty money without blinking, then you know the two are cut from the same cloth.

I may have a complicated relationship with God; but I have complete disdain for men who claim his name and then misuse it. Because men who align themselves to ministry should have more respect for the institution. They shouldn’t allow themselves to be mentioned in the same breath as the operatives on these political streets.

To be painted with the same brush as those who use church massacres as bargaining chips, yet feel nothing. That should really be beneath them; too bad that it isn’t. But all the same, at the end of the day the sun will shine on the evil and the good, and the rain will fall on the just and the unjust; upende usipende.

Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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