By Charles Okecha
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus never came into confrontation with the political domain. In fact, He cautioned His disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod” (Mark 8:15).
The scribes, sadducees and Pharisees were religious sects laced with zealotry ideology to restore the kingdom from the Roman empire back to the Jews. On the other hand, Herod was a ruler of the Jews who served as a proxy of the Romans and promoted their interests.
If you critically analyse the Arab Spring and the subsequent activities of ISIL extremists to establish a caliphate vis a vis democratic governance and secular rule of law you will conclude that human history really repeats itself!
At a certain point in time, king Herod gathered intelligence information from his operatives of the Herodian party and captured some Jewish zealots offering sacrifices in the temple to instigate riots and armed uprising.
He executed them and mingled their blood with their sacrifices. When the news came to Jesus, He rebuked the people and warned them, "Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish”. (Luke 13:1-3)
Today's protagonists of civil disobedience are not His disciples at all. He taught submission to those in authority, payment of taxes and so did His disciples. (Romans 13:1-5, 1Timothy 2:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-14)
The only moment of conflict with Herod was when he sent his messenger to threaten Jesus to keep away from Jerusalem, lest he kills Him. To this Jesus responded, “Go tell that fox, I will heal the sick, preach three days before I enter Jerusalem”. (Luke 13:31-33)
This does not imply that He gave licence ear to injustice in cowardice so that civic rulers could do their wish. On the contrary, He converted corrupt government officials like Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and many others.
He converted harlots thus saving the police from running battles with sex workers and the judiciary from backlogs of cases of land grabbing, adultery and divorce and robbery/pick-pocketing by wayward fatherless street kids. Just as Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “As high as the heavens are above the earth so are God’s ways above man’s “, it takes revelation to understand His intervention in affairs of men. Moreover, it is those earthly rulers who crowned Jesus king, Herod gave Jesus a purple robe and Pilate wrote the inscription, “IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDOREOM” Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews (John 19:19-21).
Decreeing that what is done on earth be done in heaven
Apostles versus politics
Jesus prepared the apostles to lead the church to establish God’s kingdom on earth by preaching and teaching all nations the principles of the kingdom (Matthew 28:16-20). When Herod later arrested James one of the apostles, the church never rioted! It never joined hands with the Judaist zealots to plot assassinations and acts of sabotage.
But rather, the believers shook off religious pride and presumption to pray for Peter whom Herod had also arrested to please the non-believing Jews (Acts 12:1-24).
God honoured their faith and submission to authority and sent His angel to strike Herod to death for his insatiable greed for preeminence and appeasement of the masses.
The same God is still at work today. After Idi Amin had subdued all forms of guerilla activity, he foolishly killed Janani Luwum, the Anglican Bishop (Feb 1977). Swift judgment came upon him and he attacked Tanzania, giving Julius Nyerere open chance to support the Ugandan exiles, who ousted him (April 1979).
The situation today
The church in Uganda and the world at large is suffering from the fundamental problem of lack of proper and practical doctrinal teaching. This is because the apostles did not leave a clear curriculum for training church leaders the way Jesus taught and demonstrated the works of God to them for 3 ½ years.
Saul, after his conversion, had to find his own way to the throne of God after being rejected by the believers as a hypocrite. To this day, Bible seminaries conform to secular standards of academics – study, award of certificates and commissioning into service. God has become intellectual rather than spiritual/practical.
Traditional churches though having formal management structure, conduct liturgical worship jammed with ceremonies such as Easter, Christmas, baptism, ordinations, marriages, burials, days of saints and martyrs among others.
While pentecostal churches operate in a state of ecclesiastical anarchy, preaching miracle monies in a manner that violates the principles of hard work instituted by God from the very time of creation when man had everything at his disposal.
To use the earth’s minerals to create heaven on earth, building cities and roads paved with gold like those of heaven, the purpose for which he was created in the very image of God.
The Church ought to do more with the little available although it has done a lot. In Uganda, it is the missionaries who introduced education and healthcare. Back in their western homeland, the 10 commandments taught in schools and inscribed in monuments in public places, laid foundation for today’s peace, democracy and rule of law. But ever since the reversal of this by liberalism, mass shooting, drug abuse, divorce, unnatural marriage, open aggression has become their portion.
My heavenly-inspired view is that the failures of Uganda are primarily the failures of the Church. Armed robbers were once baptised and dedicated as children; attended missionary founded schools reciting the Apostles ’ Creed and probably even wedded in Church.
The same applies to security men who hire guns to robbers, public servants and politicians who worship and hold campaigns in churches. How come the word of God which changed Zaccheus and being preached day and night plus non-stop prayers on radios and TVs are unable to convert them?
In this era of cyber technology, crime is swifter than any human mechanisms designed to counter them despite all laws enacted and amended by parliaments that have equally become kleptocratic.
By a simple tap on a smartphone, the 2017 end of year national examinations were leaked and jeopardised! Money is transmitted electronically and no longer changes hands, criminals use hi-tech gadgets and so we only wail over corruption and mysterious murders in helpless bewilderment.
The writer is a teacher and an ambassador of Jesus Christ