We have been experiencing a tense political season in the Republic of Kenya that has been characterized with charged emotions, illogical arguments, narrow-mindedness, and negative ethnicism. These uncouth happenings have somehow managed to entrap the minds and hearts of some Christians and swirl them the way a whirlwind would do to particulates in its course. It is rather unfortunate for Christians to be caught up in the tangled web of politics of hate. These supercharged emotive issues are not restricted to Kenya. Many countries of the world at one point have been at a political tipping point. Few have been unlucky to fall into the abyss of bloodshed and anarchy. Examples of these countries include Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the Central African Republic.
One important thing that I took note was the way followers of political groupings from either side can manage to act and behave like their leaders. From the kind of talk to actions, most of us behave like puppets – bereft of reason and self-will. We went on parroting and trumpeting from dawn to dusk. In all these, we have ably followed our preferred leaders in style, swagger and stanza.
We all have the proclivity to bend to the ways of the World. However, as Christians, by now, we should be on our way to reconciliation for that is the calling of every born-again, blood washed, spirit filled Christian. God can overlook our times of ignorance but He cannot do the same during times of understanding. Every Bible believing, Christ centred, Spirit-led Church should be in a position to preach reconciliation.
Reconciliation is paramount for any divided society, but for today I will delve into something else while drawing lessons from politics.
As we have observed politics have a way of attracting masses in the name of followers. Some of these followers graduate to become sycophants. They can fight and die for the people they believe in. They tend to take after them in mannerism and machinations. In a nutshell, they strive to live and practice the philosophy espoused by leaders of their choosing. Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin had followers who believed in their courses. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Nelson Mandela too.
In Christian parlance, a follower is known as a disciple. We find this in Matthew 28:19 (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit) where Christ commands us to make disciples. How can we make disciples when we are not grounded and deep-rooted followers? Most of the times we end up making converts instead of disciples. That is why we have Christians who have a relationship with God but no fellowship with Him, and united to Him in Calvary but separated from Him in sin. As a convert, I can have influence without power and movement without achievement. I can try but not trust, serve but not succeed, war but not win. As a convert, my life becomes wood, hay and stubble.
“A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
Now that we know a disciple is a follower of Jesus, then how should a follower look like?
Following someone means becoming like him/her on daily basis. It boils down to obedience and faithfulness. The next question is, ‘Who is this Jesus we are following?’ While he lived on earth as fully human, how did Jesus conduct himself?
Jesus’ life was distinguished from other religion founders in the sense that He spoke and practised His life. We can muster a lot from Him.
As a human, Jesus remained faithful to His God and Father. He never wavered or wobbled at any point in His earthly life. He was faithful to His word and has remained so even after leaving the earth. He promised to send a Helper and He did. He promised to establish a church that cannot be destroyed by the gates of hell and He did it. He promised to come again, and the signs He gave for this are being witnessed now. As followers of Jesus, we can learn to be faithful to Him. Every aspect of our lives should be tied to His will and purpose.
Jesus spent a chunk of time in prayer. He would spend the whole night in prayer. His entire ministry was punctuated with incessant prayers. In fact, He fasted for forty days as he began His ministry. He did not stop at this; he went further to teach His followers how to pray. If Jesus found it worthwhile to pray, who are we to neglect it? A prayer is a form of fellowship. Fellowship with God is a sign of growth.
Jesus did not only grow in stature but also in wisdom and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52). At the age of twelve, Jesus was able to discuss matters of the Holy Scriptures with scholars. He was able to use scriptures in teaching and correcting wrong doctrines. His followers are no exception. We are called to study the scriptures and in the process likewise, increase in wisdom. We can also pray God to supply us His wisdom, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Before He came into this world, Jesus had existed throughout eternity as one of the three Persons (Triune) of the One Being – God. “Bethlehem …out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting“ (Micah 5:2). This same Jesus left this utmost glory to dwell among the mortals with an ultimate goal of re-establishing a relationship between man and God. He went ahead to demonstrate this virtue through the way he transacted his daily business – washing feet of His disciples, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, breaking socio-economic barriers among others. This is an example He set for His followers.
“God … gives grace to the humble“ 1 Peter 5:5.
There are other characteristics of Jesus that every disciple should desire to develop. They include – but not limited to – Obedience, Patience, Love and Selflessness. I am fully aware that we will never attain perfection in this world. This does not imply we give up. Instead, it calls us to a state of total dependence on God. I believe that if we do this, then we can be good followers of Jesus and at the same time make more followers of Him. Just like in politics, let us sing and dance to the tune of our Master Jesus. Let His philosophy become our sing-song.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13.