Christianity and Politics

... Where lies the boundary?

PREPARING FOR A POLITICAL MINISTRY

It is practically impossible to fulfill any call to ministry or divine assignment without adequate preparations, especially in terms of prayers, acquisition of knowledge, skills, thorough training and a commensurate anointing for the task to be undertaken, and there is no exception to this rule. A call to political ministry, as in any other ministry is absolutely God’s prerogative, and so is the choice of the place, type and time of trainings. All our circumstances, right choices and even errors are platforms used by God as tools to chisel us until we conform to the masterpiece he intends to use for his divine assignment. Though the type and intensity of lessons required by individuals differs considerably, depending on so many factors, there are general trainings which must of necessity be undertaken by a child of God that will succeed in the murky, rocky and dusty political landscape, otherwise, they themselves will soon become stained and overcome by the powers of darkness. Quite often, God, being omniscience, starts to prepare people for the purpose he created them for ever before they give their life to Jesus. Whatever the arrangement of the sovereign God is, when a Christian becomes sure of his calling, his greatest responsibility is to fully cooperate with God, and next to it is to go beyond the call of duty to make adequate research, both spiritual and physical, and to put in every effort in every direction that will enhance the overall success of the ministry. No matter how knowledgeable, courageous and skillful, a man that lacks the oil of God cannot build to divine pattern. The anointing will always make a difference, since it signifies God’s involvement, power and presence (except the anointed has just backslidden). To receive and sustain the anointing required for a divine call or assignment the watchword for a believer is OBEDIENCE (HOLINESS) – Absolute obedience to God and all His trusted representatives. As a matter of God’s faithfulness, fairness and justice, anointing is often proportional to the level of obedience (Psalms 45:7), the nature of general calling and specific assignments within the call or ministry of an individual.

 It is significant to mention that all areas where obedience is required forms the bulk of areas that God trains his children for divine assignment. Oftentimes, as a result of insufficient understanding, believers takes training for punishment or they do not understand the difference between the two; whereas, earthly soldiers quite understand the difference between them. God often organize training and retraining programmes for his children before and in the course of divine assignments. The fact remains that all Christians without exemption have areas where our knowledge on issues are not in perfect alliance with God, no matter how deep we are! It follows therefore that there will always be something to know or learn more about God, his ways and the ministry he committed into our hand. God uses tough situations caused by ourselves or the enemy as opportunities to practically teach and impact the character, attitudes and values that He desires in a believer for him to first qualify as a true child of God on a voyage to heaven and then as a soldier in the battlefield otherwise called ministry, sent to accomplish clearly defined goals for the Lord and doing so ‘lawfully’. Due to the nature of divine assignments, especially the enormous responsibilities of anyone called to function in this ministry, the following lessons stand out if anyone is to make a success of his or her ministry, particularly a political ministry.

Lessons on Love: - God is love personified (1John 4:8). The implication of this is that you can’t really understand love until you come to know God and you can’t demonstrate perfect love until you have the nature of God. Without genuine love, our best effort to serve or help others will still be mere show-off, self-serving or self-centred. This is why most of the activities, programmes and projects of many political leaders are primarily to promote themselves and boost personal ego. With such motives, one will not be able to wait to be praised by others; rather, such politician will readily use a million naira to advertise half a million naira project through the media. Love is better identified by its attributes: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things (1Cor. 13: 1-7). It is love that will make it possible to walk after God’s commandments 2John1:16. That is, love is indeed the strongest force that will enable us to fully obey God. The act of leadership must be love centred for it to please God who is love, and for it to achieve the desired results.

Lessons on faith: - No better way to define faith than how the scripture puts it: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). Lessons on faith happen to be one of the most detested lessons by believers generally. This is so because we are often at the receiving end and, oftentimes, its lessons are painful. Faith being the surest currency for purchasing items in God’s unlimited treasure room is ‘a must have’ for any believer that would do laudable exploits on earth, and who would accomplish anything tangible for God and for himself. It should be expected that we shall always find ourselves in such corners that we are not able to help ourselves out, except the Lord intervenes, and that such intervention will rarely come until we have the faith that God is faithful to His words and He is able to bail us out, no matter how hopelessly hopeless the situation may seem to be! 

 

 

Lessons on Courage: - God loves people with gut! Not the arrogant gut that ooze out of pride, but the gut that is directly linked with the faith in whom the Lord is and what He is able to do. Call it the Davidic kind of gut – the gut that made the young David to dare the dreaded Goliath. Courage is not exactly the same thing as faith, but for believers, there is a holy alliance between the two’. Courage is more natural and human attribute than faith. It can be demonstrated and indeed often demonstrated by the natural man. However, when brought into ministry or general work and walk with God it brings about extraordinary use of faith, consequently, amazing results. God’s double charge to Joshua was for him to be courageous (Joshua 1:1-6), in spite of his previous level of courage as a sword carrying warrior.

One incidence that exemplifies courage and persistence which I cannot forget easily was displayed by a friend, Amos Adeoti at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1989/90. First he contested for the post of Assistance Social Director under the National Association of Agric Students, ABU Chapter and he lost the election. Within a couple of weeks it was time for the Kwara State Students’ Union ABU Chapter to hold her election, and Amos contested for the post of Assistant Secretary. It was a keenly contested election, but he lost again! Within a few days, because a lacuna existed, and we could not conclude the election of the President of the Kwara State Students’ Union, the office was declared vacant. To the amazement of all and sundry, especially those of us from the same faculty who knew what happened earlier, Amos put in again. Many who would not have voted ordinarily rose up in ‘honour of courage and persistence’. Lo and behold, Amos won and had a wonderful tenure that brought the then Kwara State Governor to ABU to hold meeting with us, and he eventually gave bursary awards to all Kwara indigenes in Ahmadu Bello University as well as those in other higher institutions that session.

Lessons in the fear of God:- No matter how well taught theoretically, no one can comprehend thoroughly the lessons on the fear of God until he or she experiences a ‘very little’ dosage of God’s anger! – Of course man can only experience a little of it and still be alive to tell the gory story! Advert The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. God teaches His fear out of His love, not a show off or a demonstration of supremacy. He does this to keep His children far from ever laying their hands on things that can permanently severe their relationship with Him. He wants them to have just a token of what lie ahead of anyone that pitches his or her tent with the devil. To have just a little idea of what it means to be lost forever, so we can appreciate and celebrate God for our privileged father-child relationship with Him. The lessons on the fear of God are always evidence in those that experienced it. It made Jonah, after coming out of it, that is, the belly of a fish, to preach one of the most effective sermons ever – a sermon that brought a whole city unto repentance, both the young and the old, even children!

The General Overseer of RCCG told us of how he once thought too highly of himself by assuming that he is to interpret for the Founder of RCCG only and therefore felt slighted when one Pastor requested that he should interpret for him. Just on that account alone, in spite of the fact that he still went ahead to interpret for the Pastor without showing his resentment, God was greatly displeased and He stopped speaking with him, until he had to cry to God that he will never repeat it again. I am convinced that the severity on our lessons often depend on how terribly far away we are from understanding the dangers of directly or indirectly confronting God through our acts of disobedience, most especially willful disobedience.

‘One lesson too many’ – that seems to be the only way I can describe the experience I had in 1995/96. I had gone to Aso-Rock on Monday the 25th of December 1995 to ‘tell’ General Sanni Abacha that he was leading Nigeria on the path contrary to her destiny. The ‘message’ was clear and the ‘consequences’ obvious. Unfortunately, to me, I thought God was not fast enough and I returned from Aso-Rock the following morning, disappointed with God!!!

The last Sunday in 1995, Pastor Okey Onuzo, a highly referred man of God was in our parish at Freedom Hall as a guest and he said he had made up his mind not to talk in the church that day, but God had just shown him a vision, which he passed across in a plain language and it was about my mission to the presidency. God then gave a clear order of what I should not do, but I felt too disappointed and thus too weak and flouted the order! I hate to recount the consequences! I know I can’t live through such experience twice in a life time! A few hours later, The General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A Adeboye directed that the annual prayer and fasting schedule of the church will be different in 1996; it will be One hundred daily fasts or Thirty days of marathon, whichever one is more convenient for an individual, because of severity of what God revealed. It will take the grace of God to survive the year. (Which in my own situation was perfectly in line with the instruction given through the vision shown to Dr Okey Onuzo few hours earlier). Some people may as a matter of hindsight now think that the declaration of the G.O was an overstatement because they never experienced anything strange, but those of us who experienced the callousness of that murderous year will never wish a repeat of that year till eternity! For once, I wished Daddy G.O had repeated the warning a hundred times more than he did! I thought I had fasted and prayed enough in 1995 and had yet met with the most terrible disappointment. While I guided my heart to ensure my heart did not rebel against God, I made no special effort to garner the needed strength to meticulously adhere to the instruction to fast (that in itself amounted to rebellion), and I doubt if I participated more than two days. Real trouble started before the end of the One hundred days prayer and fasting period. For the very first time I had a clear understanding of what King Saul went through. At a point I desired not to live again, and I earnestly prayed: ‘Lord, I am sorry, but just hide me in Jesus so I won’t miss heaven, then, Kill me.’ Demons that I will command and they will have no option but to obey now descended on me, trying to tear my head apart! When I desperately needed a solitary place to pray, I travelled to a village I had left years back, in Osun State, but the night vigil had no meaning, like several other violent prayers before it. The Devil and his cohorts had all the freedom to avenge. I knew the only thing that was preserving me must have been a divine order not to terminate my life. I was at the mercy of that wicked adversary, the Devil… Until the last hour and about the very last minute of 1996, when the tormentors left me, in a manner that left me without an iota of doubt that an order had come from God that the agony is over! IT IS A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HAND OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD! You will do better to learn from others than to run into the same error. BE WARNED.

Lessons on humility: - This is one attribute of God no one can fully comprehend its scope… How the Almighty God will call mortal man such names as my son, my heir and my friend is amazing, to say the least. This is the very reason why no proud person can walk with God, let alone working for or with Him. As stated earlier, humility is not the same as bowing down the head and doing nothing to offend anybody. Humility has to do with a clear understanding the we cannot do anything, even sitting down, without the help of God, and that we are not in anywise better than anyone else, except the Lord gives us the grace; we thereafter go further to lead our daily lives with the consciousness of these realities. The Lord has respect unto the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar (Psalms 138:6). True humility is not common. It is that attribute that makes it possible for Christ to be conscious of being God in human flesh and yet able to bear the shameful treatment meted to him at crucifixion. True humility and true love combined makes one invincible to the enemy. A Christian politician will need a double dose of both, considering the propensity of power to intoxicate its holders. It is common for God to allow us pass through experiences that will either gently teach us humility as a virtue or force us to be humble! This often goes on until we have learnt enough, because the proud will never be able to walk with God. Pride being a subtle tool in the hand of the enemy has the tendency to raise up its ugly head at anytime, especially after a substantial level of success has been attained, thus, refresher trainings are often organized by God to ensure that we remain humble and fortified against the sin that has destroyed too many believers already.

Lessons on Practical Administration: - As central as godliness and clear conscience are to governance, both of them do not automatically transmute to a superb administrative success except sufficient knowledge, skills, and experiences have been acquired in addition. To achieve this, God often arrange for us to serve under leaders of considerable administrative acumen, with or without our being conscious of why we are under them. This affords us ample opportunities to live through real life situations that are similar or exactly like those we shall be confronting in the course of our ministry or daily life and learn first-hand how to respond to issues in different situations. Typical examples of mentoring in practical administration and there extensions are noticeable between Moses and Jethro on one hand and Gamaliel and Paul on the other. Jethro who has been Moses’ boss, teacher and father-in-law further extended his mentorship when he counseled Moses on how to go about his administration of justice among the Isrealites in the wilderness (Exodus 18:13-26): ‘And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: 16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.’ But for Jethro’s experienced counsel, Moses would have probably jeopardized his health and exhausted the patience of the people while they waited endlessly for their turn to secure justice. It is even more dramatic to note that though God speaks with Moses mouth to mouth, yet, God did not direct Moses on how to go about the day to day administration of his reins, safe for such affairs that concerned worship, sacrifices and allied sacred matters.

Apostle Paul also, while emphasizing the thoroughness and soundness of his competence in matters of Jewish religion, tradition and laws in his defense made mention of his tutelage under Gamaliel, an authority in Israel, when it comes to the matters of Jewish religion, tradition and laws: “Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. 2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) 3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.”-Acts 22:1-3

Lessons on Heavenly Protocol:- God is orderly and never the author of confusion. He also delegates authority in such a way as to allow each of His soldiers (Matured children) to function mainly within clearly defined spiritual platoons and with the weapons each one is trained to handle. For instance, ‘Kings’ are no ‘Prophets’, and, even in this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, trainings and great caution are required for any politician to employ traditional prophetic utterances. To avoid confusion, words like ‘thus says the Lord’ should be avoided by the most anointed of kings. When King Saul prophesied it was for a sign and there are hundreds of prophesies in the Psalms but David avoided the traditional prophetic languages because of the implication of such utterances amongst the mixed multitude. Also, a politician (King) must recognize the ‘Prophet’ (Pastor etc) assigned over him to which he is answerable. Kings are never left without a supervisory spiritual head. The principal reason for this is most obvious; to prevent the Devil’s assault on political leaders through the weapon of pride and associated pitfalls

Others Lessons:- Several other lessons which are by no means less important compared to the aforementioned ones include Lessons on Hard Work, Usage of Authority, Integrity, Endurance, Justice, Fairness, Prayer, etc.