What's God got to do with it? Using our spirituality to save the nation

Some powerful people fear the day when the church will rise to its actual value. A revolution would be inevitable. [iStockphoto]

Followers of Jesus were first called "Christians" at Antioch because observers saw their ways mirroring those of Jesus. Curiosity makes one ask whether the Antioch auditors would settle on the same name if they flew in to observe Kenya today! They would probably settle on Zakayoists! It should continually bother us that Kenya has a high spiritual density that does not translate into a visible quality of life. Our moral crisis makes us question the gospel we have received!

That the spiritual pool can be harnessed successfully is exemplified by our politicians. They know the capacity of faith units to the extent of camping in churches during campaigns. The present government reaped big from capitalising on Kenya's high spiritual density. But the church is not reaping as big from the resultant political association - pointing to a church with a weak bargaining power.

Some powerful people fear the day when the church will rise to its actual value. A revolution would be inevitable. In the meantime, they let the sleeping giant snore. In the Antioch audit spirit, let us observe some reasons why Christian spirituality in its present form struggles to make an impact.

A schism between the church and the civil society makes the two function parallelly. One of the key areas of impact for the church is being a champion of justice and an advocate of the oppressed. For this to happen effectively, the church will need a strong advocacy function. In its present missional formation, little exists to evidence that advocacy is core to the church's mission.

It is a daily voice of the weak and oppressed that would make the church curve a permanent place in the headlines. Even newsworthy sermons are those heavy on justice. The church must then forge close ties with organisations that specialise in championing human rights, even welcoming some to operate from their premises.

A leaning towards the miraculous downplays the role of hard and strategic work. Many Christians expect the faith to ease their living. They receive a Jesus who gives them a free ride because his power is at work. Such a Jesus is supposed to serve the believer with a luxurious, sweat-free life. This thinking and teaching is heavily flawed. A clash of outcomes is inevitable when divine intervention encounters the spectator syndrome.

The spectator syndrome suspends minds and folds hands. It elevates the practice of prayer way above the practice of work. Prayer becomes the work. Prayer is left to do the work. With the spectator syndrome, God, who always works, is overtaken by the God who always does miracles. There is a need to reorient our faith so that, while still praying, we know that a lot of miracles happen through work. We need a spirituality that is both prayer and work-heavy.

Placing the liberating role on one person high in government makes the Christians blind to their own individual liberating role. To give the Moses burden to a singular Christian who is in a position of power is often unfair. This is especially because the church today is not in a powerless situation.

Self-proclaimed Christian presidents have ended up disappointing the church for having fallen short of expectations. They did not marvel at Pharaoh. They were not part of the Red Sea. They did not survive the den of lions. Some turn into lions that actually tear up Daniel! To expect brothers and sisters in high political places to make a godly difference is valid. But to have a messianic gaze at them dilutes the role of the local church community as a unit of transformation.

Tragically, the church does not articulate exactly the change it wants to see! Though many pray daily, "...may your Kingdom come" they may not spot the kingdom coming because they do not know its form. It would not be surprising if many would still be praying,"...your Kingdom come" while the kingdom long came!

The church should not ride on the manifestos of political parties. Instead, we should hear its own Kingdom vision, which, hieratically, the political parties should actually crane to serve. We need to hear the church in Kenya make its contextualised "I have a dream!" speech.

This would free the church from overreliance on political formations and instead transcend them. Such would give the Christians a unique political alphabet, and priests would not have to speak in the accents of politicians or be mesmerised by their power.

Tradition must cease opposing innovation. The older churches see innovation as a threat. The new churches see tradition as unnecessary. There has to be a dynamic middle ground where tradition is not disposed of in the name of innovation, and innovation is not cast off in the name of tradition. Innovation must be grounded, and tradition must be renovated. As long as the church keeps its eye on God's people and not on itself, holy dynamism is inevitable. However, institutional survival and denominational competition are warped premises of the church's existence.

The church underestimates Kenya's vice levels. This miscalculation leads to a mismatched invocation of spiritual strategy. The disciples once asked why they could not expel some demons, and Jesus taught them that some powers need a stepped-up operation.

The church needs to speak in a way that shows knowledge of the size of the iceberg of immorality that keeps aborting and detouring Kenya's voyage to abundance. A one-demon arsenal will not survive in the face of "Legion." Those who go after the demons must themselves be competent; otherwise, the demons will turn them into a meal. They must be resolute. Otherwise, Satan will splash gifts of cities in exchange for their bended knees.

The deep state is a deep vice. The spiritual strategies need not follow the political calendar because Kenya needs a long exorcism mission. There are few repentant thieves who will easily repent.

But we must also strategise on the cartels that follow the pattern of the unrepentant thief. These mock Christ without shame or restraint. This will take re-educating the entire church to understand salvation as a saving of souls, but a saving of souls who, in turn, live their entire earthly lives redeeming systems from "majambazi."