This may not be so good a time to write about this, but I feel like I need to lay some things in people’s minds and in my mind too. It is about unfavourable governments and our attitude towards them as Christians. In 2015, when this government came into power, it was like a blow in the hearts of many of us. I remember how I had to travel from Enugu to my polling centre at Awka just to ensure I voted for the man we wanted to remain in power. We felt quite strongly that the opposition government that was then seeking power did not portend good for Christianity and religion at large. So even though we were praying that God’s will be done, our little minds felt that God’s will was the Christian guy, not the muslim guy. Horror of horrors, the muslim guy won!
I went for a bible study that very Tuesday evening as the results were being announced and the then incumbent president had called and congratulated his opponent for his victory in the polls. That day at the ministry house, there was sadness in the house. When our pastor-teacher walked up to the podium and said in his usual manner, “the Lord is good!”, we found it difficult to reply the usual “all the time!” He had to start addressing the unhappiness in our souls (thank God he did not disregard it as some preachers would have done).
He began to remind us of the danger signals in the land prior to the election and how the Lord had diffused it. He reminded us that God is in charge and no one mounts the throne of the nation unless the Almighty had given it to him. In all this, he asked us to accept what have happened and start praying for the president and wishing him well.
As I left the ministry hall that day, it began to dawn on me how much hatred and animosity was in my heart towards the now current president even though I never knew him personally. I just hated him and wished he will fail. I just wanted him to fail so I will be justified in opposing him. Not only in me, but in other brethren, I started seeing the amount of hatred and animosity that was in our hearts. In fact, some wished the then current president had rejected the elections and thrown the nation in crisis. Some even said that he was very stupid not to have rigged the elections in his favour (a statement too ridiculous for a Christian to make).
For me, it was a struggle. How was I supposed to pray for this man when I do not like him. I literally started asking God to remove the hatred in my heart and help me to be praying for him. I remember praying that he will complete his tenure without any loss to his life- a prayer I maintained even when he spent extensive number of days abroad battling with his health. It was then I began to see that many of my brethren wished him dead. They were praying for him in the church, but not with a heart of love. I remember entering my class in school only for my children to ask me if the president is dead… I told them No, that he is just in the hospital, and I urged them to pray for his recovery. Immediately I said that, there was an almost unanimous chorus of No, we will not pray for him. Some even said that they wanted him to die. When I asked them what his offence was, they kept re-echoing their parents sentiment of how he had inflated everything and all that. I was shocked that such mentality would go on in the hearts of little JSS1-2 children.
To be a Christian is not a game for boys. It is real business. Jesus said we must love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us. Does this mean that a christian cannot be a freedom fighter, a social critic/analyst, or an activist? No. But he must be all these without an iota of hate towards those he is opposing. He must see them in the eyes of God’s love and even uphold them in prayers. He must not be vengeful and vindictive in his criticism and activism, but must show a sense of decorum, love and respect for others. If you think this is not possible, just go and read the biography of Martin Luther King Jr. of America.
Our current president is elected into power, and he has a tenure beyond which he cannot rule. Even this last election which he had won, he will only last till 2023 and be out of the game. If we cannot bear with such seasons as a man’s 4-8 years reign, what would we have done if Nigeria was a Monarchial system, and the president would rule till he dies. Trust me, many brethren would have prayed for his quick death, as they are silently wishing now.
You see, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. The current president is not our problem. He is not a hindrance to the gospel. He is just but a man. Our battle is with principalities and powers who do not wish to see Christ reign in our land.
Paul told Timothy to pray for Kings and for those in authority (1 Timothy 2 vs. 1-3). No matter how good or not they are to the brethren, we cannot pray against them or wish them evil. In fact we are asked to pray for them that God will arrest them, and make them do right.
I have heard some people criticizing certain men of God for not speaking up against the current government. Now I thank God for those who are speaking up, but I also thank God for those who are not. Everyone is fulfilling his purpose in God. I was inspired while reading HEAVENLY MAN by Brother Yun, and he had this to say about the intense persecution the church in China had undergone under the communist government.
“We have also come to understand that the past thirty years of suffering, persecution and torture for the house churches in China were all part of God’s training for us. The Lord has perfectly fitted us to go as missionaries to the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu worlds. Once I spoke in the West and a Christian told me, “I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.” This is not what we pray! We never pray against our government or call down curses on them. Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our own lives and the government we live under. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “The government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6.
God has used China’s government for his own purposes, moulding and shaping his children as he sees fit. Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God.
Don’t pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power.
This is true freedom!”
Hence, I leave every Christians with this charge:
1. Until anything happens, or the courts overturn the elections, the winners thereof have become our leaders. We owe them the debt of praying for them, according to the word of God. Pray that they would be healthy, safe, wise and bold. Pray that they would repent of evil. Pray that they would do the right thing all the time, and shun evil advice. Pray, and God will answer.
2. Remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. Remember that our fight is not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers. So, do not lean to depression that the elections did not go as you wanted, as if God lost something. He did not lose anything, neither is he disturbed or limited by any Government in Power. Remember He is the Lord, and the Governor among the Nations.
3. We have awakened to a sense of consciousness concerning our political and leadership expectations as citizens of this country. Hence, we must keep speaking, criticizing, and calling our governments to order, while we pray for them. The two are not averse to each other, but never hate or wish that any should die, and neither should you rejoice peradventure any eventually dies, because God will not be happy with you if you do so.
4. Pray for those who preach the word of God, and missionaries, that God will strengthen them to continue their work. Pray that no government will set in place any policies that will gag the preachers of the Gospel, or ‘regulate’ how the Gospel should be preached. The moment anyone begins to ‘regulate’ the preaching of the Gospel, that moment, such a person sets himself up as an enemy of the Christian faith.
God bless the people and government of Nigeria.
IN HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE,
J. M. Obodozie