AS some people met in Bulawayo on Sunday at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds under the pretext of praying for the nation, it is of paramount importance that we, as Christians, be very wary of being used by politicians for their shallow and narrow selfish political objectives.
Guest column: Tendai Ruben Mbofana
Inasmuch as we, indeed, should pray for our nation and leaders — it is completely different when we are used as political puppets, under the guise of “subjecting ourselves to authority”, and “having hope for our country”.
Every Zimbabwean — at least those who are sane — would want to have a better life, and as such, praying for our nation and leadership would be natural and expected.
I really do not believe that anyone with an ounce of reasoning would deliberately want this nation to continue on its current downward spiral — except those who may have some selfish and myopic political, and even economic points to gain.
Nevertheless, the rest of us — who are the vast majority — pray to Jehovah God for this nation to prosper, and for all of us to have a better standard of living — no matter who the leader in government is.
Indeed, our leaders need our constant prayers, as they are the people in the driving seat, and would need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in taking the country on the correct path.
Praying for our leaders does not automatically translate to supporting them … no, not at all!
But, just as we pray for the driver — whom we do not necessarily know — of a bus for a safe journey — we also pray for our leaders to move our country on the path of success.
However, as Christians, we need to take up another calling that our Lord Christ Jesus bestowed on us — the light of the world (Matthew 4:16).
What does it mean to be the “light of the world”?
Basically, as the light of the world, we should be able to expose evil and wrong — darkness — where it is, so that it may flee, and through our good works, all may see that we are followers of Christ.
In other words, as Christians, as much as we may pray for our leaders for guidance and wisdom, we should always hold them accountable, speak out and stand up boldly when they do wrong and misgovern.
As with the example of the bus driver, as much as we may pray for him or her for a safe journey, we also have to hold him or her accountable should he or she drive recklessly.
As the light of the world, we are duty bound not only to lead by example, but also readily expose and stand up against those leaders who, through their corruption, oppression and misgovernance, have made the lives of ordinary people unbearable and unmanageable.
In the Bible itself, the prophets of Jehovah God were known for standing up against oppressive and corrupt leaders — Samuel rebuked King Saul, Nathaniel stood against King David’s adultery, and even John the Baptist castigated King Herod for having taken his brother’s wife.
As we can clearly learn from the scriptures themselves, we are expected to stand against all forms of disobedience to the Word of God by our leaders — not just in issues of politics and government, but also in what may be perceived as their “private” lives, as a leader has to be exemplary even in their own homes.
Nonetheless, we are called upon not to pass judgment, yet be bold enough to stand up and speak out against any such disobedience to the Word of Jehovah.
If, as Christians, we allow ourselves to become mere puppets of our leaders — even when they are busy being corrupt, oppressive and mismanaging the nation — then we would have failed in our role.
Let us not be deceived by those who do not know or understand the Word of God, who portray Him — and by extension, us — as mere moralists, who should be confined to matters of spirituality and praying.
The very fact that Christians can speak against such vices as promiscuity, or drunkenness, we should also speak against the shooting down of innocent people by a country’s military, or plundering of resources by a few powerful people, or the rigging of elections.
That is our God-given duty.
Going to church, praying and singing alone, is not what Jehovah put us here on Earth for — that is not what being a true Christian is all about.
Indeed, prayer works, and hope and faith are powerful tools — yet, God tells us that faith without works is useless.
For any action to work, the foundation is prayer, hope and faith — but, then we move on to action.
Merely gathering in Bulawayo — or any other place — just to pray for our nation, and have hope and faith that the situation will improve, is not only unscriptural, but also disobedience to Jehovah God.
We are the light of the world — and as such, through our actions, we should be able to shine our light where there is evil and darkness — from the streets to the State House.
Let us be loyal to the words of the wisest man ever to walk this planet — Solomon — as he wrote, “Open your mouth for the speechless … and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8,9).
Note that he writes, “open your mouth”, and “plead the cause of”.
This clearly means that our calling goes far beyond just praying, donating food, clothing or shelter to the “poor and needy”, but commands us to STAND UP for them, and to SPEAK OUT for them.
Most of us in this nation are now poor and needy and oppressed by this government, and Christians — as a matter of duty and love — need to stand up and speak out for the nation against leaders who have resorted to unfettered corruption, oppressing and misgovernance.
When our leaders deploy the military to fire live ammunition at innocent bystanders, when ordinary people’s lives are made unbearable through the tripling of prices of basic commodities, medication, schools fees and uniforms, when we are not paid enough – or not paid at all — or when we are expected to pay in United States dollars, yet we are paid in bond notes — that is the time for Christians to speak out and stand up.
When our leaders continue to plunder our nation’s resources — as they get richer and richer — while selling our country to the Chinese, that is the time for Christians to be the light of the world.
Yes, let us pray for our leaders — that they may gain guidance and wisdom — but, let us stand up and speak out boldly and hold them accountable when they falter in their duties … that is the Christian thing to do!
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the programmes director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). He writes in his personal capacity.