Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Sermon

On my way back from church a few weeks ago, tired of the noisy gospel songs the radio stations were playing, I found BBC on the dial and it provided some respite. I had tuned in to The Strand, and Noo Saro-Wiwa, daughter of deceased activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was being interviewed  about her book Looking for Trans Wonderland. She spoke about her difficult relationship with Nigeria and corruption among other things. I honestly was merely passively listening, not really engaged, until the discussion took a certain turn. She started by saying that if there was a more religious country in the world than Nigeria then she hadn't been there ( she is a travel writer and I'm sure she's very well travelled). She described how people (Christians) called upon God 24 hours a day in Nigeria, in all sorts of ways in loud voices. In her book, she has made a pronouncement which the presenter of the show described as "startling",I found it thought provoking.
"The Nigerian reliance on God to change material circumstances will ultimately hold our country back more than corruption, I suspect"

She 'defended' her statement; saying that's the sense she got from some Nigerians, as a columnist could write that those who pray should do so and exorcise the demons from the crazy drivers. She went on to speak of people's own power to change things...

Today (I didn't go to church) and I find her words replaying in my head. Her statement easily applies all over Africa, where loud forms of worship are preferred and weekly church rituals are observed. And yet society is degenerating: every applicable standard is falling, "things are not the same as the old days". Massive corruption is uncovered everywhere and many places battle with violence and aggression, break down of family systems and a myriad of issues. But churches are getting bigger, religion is more widespread than ever and more people are turning to God...so why doesn't this reflect in the society? ( and I do not mean by gay bashing, it seems to be the popular way to affirm ones faith. smh)

The thing is God can materially change one's circumstances, and even a whole country's if He chooses to or perhaps if the people are truly dependent on him. But what does dependency here mean: doing nothing and waiting for Him? or doing something and calling on Him for help? or is God redundant in politics (and football matches) ??
 I find that most people would rather cry for the relief that actually do something about a situation. Any situation. It is easier to do so (unless you cannot sit still like some of us) isn't it? Who are those doing nothing? I see a few categories of people 1. those of us who do not rely on God entirely but use him as a fall back (which we think is reliance because we're desperate) 2. the lazy people who use reliance on God as an excuse to do next to nothing. 3. Those who are afraid of change/confrontation because they're not confident and use reliance on God (to rectify the situation) to mask that. this list is in no way exhaustive.
I find it impossible to accept that you do nothing to change your situation: the Bible says he who does not work will not eat. But I find it mentally exacting to draw the proverbial line: when does your own effort, ie your own 'power' (of which you have none because all you do is by Grace) ,end and God's Grace begin. The thing is that there is no line for Christians because they know that they are not relying on themselves. (we with) Carnal minds find it mind boggling.

I think a paradox applies here: work like it depends on you, but pray ceaselessly because it depends on God. Truth is most make little or no effort and expect to be rescued by God because they asked nicely. We've all done this at one point or another...right?

Anyway, I digress, I agreed with Noo that using religion to sedate the populace transforming them into an ovine docile mass who skip to commands of their leaders and only cry to God for relief is quite redundant.
 This is not  even Christian (I can't speak for Muslims, but I dare say they are 'action' people too). Truly religious people are powerful people and not docile dummies. As a Christian righting wrong is part of the job, loving rebukes should be the order of the day. Imagine what a functional country we would have if we had more practising Christians instead of church goers and the gullible being hoodwinked by charlatans standing in pulpits with titles?  Massive corruption wouldn't exist because people wouldn't steal or connive to steal, their consciences would not allow it! They would stick to their principles. Only the truly, utterly desperate would resort to such gargantuan means (lmao, couldn't resist.)
Away from politics, in the event of one of our frequent power outages a la ECG, the traffic situation would not be one of chaos and anarchy. In order to fulfil the requirements of loving your neighbour (read as fellow road user) common sense and neighbourliness would prevail. Apply to other scenarios. If we practised what was preached to us we would still be a peace loving country, but there wouldn't be as much room for the bad politician, power brokers and other hungry people to manoeuvre.
So maybe what we need is a reliance on God in order to change our circumstances, but please note not the loud cries and obvious, superficial worship we do so well. A practical reliance on God: trimming excess; not being wasteful; being truthful; standing for what is right and actually following His word, while we go about our daily activities and interact with people. Doing our part, while trusting Him to make our effort enough to cause a paradigm shift. This would require us to actually read His Word, meditate on it and seek His face and listen to His voice.

Yeah, the not-so-loud or easy reliance, the one that He must send us strength for. That kind. The kind that can transform you and change your lifestyle...the hard, difficult-to-do kind. Not the Sunday-ritualistic-back-to-your-life-during-the-week-kind-of-reliance.

Not interested? I thought so. yup.
That's why we stay in our cesspit, crying out to God, stay held back and statements like that stay true.

Happy Sunday :)