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Captured priests diluting gospel by adding ‘Hail money’ to sermons

A priest is by nature a threat.

Just like it is in their calling to bless, they can also curse and cause a little hell down here. Every government keeps an eye on the priests, especially because they invoke and report to a different power – a power higher than the “system.” The Government hopes that they would invoke this power in favour of the State. But this is not always a guarantee. Priests always have a holy rebellion in the cards. Some governments go as far as suppressing - even extinguishing – the church.  Others allow a State church which they can efficiently regulate.  

While some may read such controls as pointing to the dispensability of the church, it is actually right the opposite. Attempts of the Government to control the church speak loudly of the potency of the church. The prophet is hardly pleasant. Inspired priests have been known to stand in the way of oppressive systems to the extent of bringing them down. All political systems have a dose of spiritual consciousness. Even very liberal governments often have very spiritual officers. Though the spiritual frequency is murky, it is critical. To be clued in on the happenings in the God frequency, governments take the step of on-boarding spiritual advisors.  It is to the benefit of a government to avoid a fall out with God.  Run-ins with the sacred can get messy. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta has critiqued the church before.  But his Sagana 3 speech went beyond a critique to a judgment, “You will go to hell!” Priests are human.  But this does not mean they should live a carefree life. In a world full of sin, they should be the “stock” of right living. In a generation addicted to sensual pleasure, they should be the embodiment of sensible spirituality. This spiritual correctness should not be confused with legalistic piety.  Paul of Tarsus set the bar high when in his commitment to godliness told others “follow me as I follow Christ.” The president painted a sorry picture of a priesthood facing a direction crisis. Unlike Paul, some Bible-totting priests are on a great trek to hell. 

What a change in roles! It is taken to be the preserve of the priest to discern the end-time direction of the people. The priest warns those who are going to the left –because their leftist ways are clear - and affirms those who are going to the right.  A president is a man with many advisors. Could his spiritual advisors be proposing some hell-like ideas? Could his intelligence briefings include operations of priests from hell? Could he - at his personal level as a Christian - be discerning a gap between what God wants and what the priests are doing? Or could there be some priests who carried to him a message of doom which his intellect rejects?

Whatever inspired and informed the president’s statement, the categorisation of some priests as hell-bound is worth attention. His judgment is an invitation to a thorough introspection. The priestly transcendence is clearly in short supply. There is an acute shortage of respectable – read feared - priests. What we have is an excess of spiritual leaders who fear political authority and are impressed and mesmerized by those in power. 

It would have served well if the president had balanced out his statement and mentioned some authentic - heaven-bound - priests.  But from his fury, one can read that even if he knows some impressive priests, they are not intense enough to build his optimism. While we often hear of a State capture, the president told of another form of capture – the priest capture.  The priests of Mammon are buying some shares in the stock of the priests of Yahweh. The result is that the captured priest dilutes the Gospel of truth by adding the “Hail Money!” parables in the sermon.

Many priests live in a conflict of the holy call on one hand and a craving for money on the other.  The tension is further intensified by a widespread expectation by the congregation that the “man of God” is relieved of the desire for worldly things, especially money.  A pastor who drives a top-range vehicle and lives in an expensive neighborhood is handled with both suspicion and admiration, with the scales tipping depending on the theology of the context. What if some political mobilizers came and rewarded a conflicted priest with money for opportunities to deal with the church?  The priest is likely to receive the proposal as an answer to his craving.

William Kabogo’s party has an interesting name “Jibebe” (carry thyself).  It appears the philosophy of the party is generating a leadership that empowers people to a place where they can shoulder their responsibilities with ease. But long before the Jibebe was the “Jitegemea” (self reliance). This philosophy - crafted by the late Rev Dr John Gatu - was adopted by the Presbyterian church of East Africa to express that the African was capable of running institutions effectively and the missionaries did not need to play a central role.

Instead of tethering the call to hunt for money, priests of our times seriously need to creatively lean towards Jigemea and Jibebe philosophies. Failure to this, witty political strategists have identified a cash gap in the called. Knowing that many men and women of the cloth are money-broke, they come knocking carrying a solution – a temptation -in their hands.

For a priest, the biggest kind of “broke” should never be lack of money. The biggest kind of broke is when the connection with God is broken. This kind of “broke” sweeps away the priest’s prime asset – the ability to hear God and say “Thus says the Lord.” A priest who has sold his right of “Thus says the Lord” and gained money instead is broke. 

 

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