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Church obliged to free voters from clutches of self-serving politicians

OPINION
By Edward Buri | August 22nd 2021

The more gullible the people are, the happier the politician. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

An old hymn says, “Where duty calls or danger be never wanting there.” Duty calls in 2022. The church should not be wanting there. But only a thorough church can engage the power-seizing schemes hatched behind closed doors of five-star hotels. The task is critical, and there are a number of things that the church should consider in this critical moment.

Discernment: Of all things that the church owes the community, “Thus says the Lord” is cardinal. This voice can never be guessed–it must be discerned.

The church must do the hard work of hearing God and then mount podiums and pulpits to articulate to the nation the divine will. Being a messenger of God is what distinguishes the voice of the church from other actors. Otherwise, it will be easily enticed to be an extension of OKA, Jubilee, UDA and other such formations. Discernment risks conflicting prophets and subsequently a questioning public. But the risk must be taken.

God does not give opinions. God communicates truth. The church is a courier of a long-range divine vision for the earthly community. While it may not be judged by promises made, as are political parties, the church has an even harder task: to embody the divine voice. Prophecy is not mere speech. The church cannot speak! It has to be legs and hands, too.

Visibility: The church may want to look silent as one keeping its opinion to herself. It may want to appear peaceful and uncontroversial. But staying away from the public scene is not humility. The voice in the desert was not whispering–it was crying out! A church serious about making a significant difference must make an intense investment to ensure visibility. Sporadic fire-fighting and hastily assembled appearances will not serve.

A 2022 secretariat complete with a polished public relations function is not too much to consider. A divine message deserves the dignity of professional communication. The better coordinated the communication machinery, the more likely the church’s position and guidance will be taken seriously and travel widely. It is time to diversify the communication platforms from the traditional press conference to include a battery of bloggers to creatively broadcast the divine voice.

Multiplicity: The call for the church to be united is loud. Disunity has led to haunting memories. True to this, without unity the church will be split into thin “wanna-be” units with a sorry, shrieking impact. The church is therefore under pressure to present itself as one voice. But this said, unity should not be confused and reduced to a plastic monologue.

The church has a variety of shades in the form of denominations, ecumenical and para-church bodies. It is time for the church to call upon its spiritual potency and find in herself the capacity to turn its vibrancy into multiple platforms channeling one voice.

Politicians have always admired, utilized and harvested from this church network. It is time the church utilized its wide network for its own purpose of propagating the divine vision that informs people of the truth that vaccinates them against campaign lies.  Standing by and idle wishing will never deliver this fete. It takes faith with a lot of work. But even an attempt will be success in itself.

Spiritual ingenuity

Ingenuity: In this fast-changing world hardly any innovation is seen coming from the church. It is even sluggish in taking up existing innovations for its own Good News purposes. Though it positions itself as a prime transformation agent, it needs to hear a sermon on self-transformation! While we marvel at the wonders of engineering, a study of the scriptures shows that the church has its own marvels to display.

For such a time as this, when everyone is concerned about the state of peace in the election year, the church is best placed to engage in peace-engineering by breaking down the Shalom into accessible peace pieces.  As a matter of fact, no seasons present a better opportunity for the church to unleash its spiritual ingenuity than seasons of national difficulty. But for this to be, the church must enter the baptism waters and embrace the identity of an innovator.

The choice of faces that carry the voice of the church should also reflect ingenuity. When peace is the matter, young clergy should be allowed to take the frontline. This is especially because youth are key actors in violence. In this spirit, the line-up of clergy to carry the voice of the church this election year should strategically include young clergy–male and female.

People-consciousness: Aspirants have power in mind. People come into play as inevitable channels to that power. Without the people, power is inaccessible. They have to be enticed and where necessary, deceived. Some aspirants go an evil notch higher to threaten and coerce people.

When different parties seek coalitions in the name of “like-minded” formations, power is the subject. Elections are a power transaction and the billions in campaign money are really the price of power. In an election year, people are not central–power is.

The more gullible the people are, the happier the politician. The campaign season paints people as very important. But a critical look at voter manipulation shows it is the time when they are most demeaned. It is dangerous for people to be in the hands of a desperate politician.

People need an advocate–an entity that calls out aspirants who become freelance liars. People, not power, must perpetually be at the centre of the community. The church must sustain an inherent people-consciousness. This way, it is able to decline enticements that draw her to boardrooms of power at the cost of losing sight of the trenches that are the habitat of the masses.

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