Dear Malawian Citizens. Please allow me to make my contribution to the issue of pastors joining front line politics. There have been mixed reaction to the issue of pastors joining politics. This is in respect to the recent trend when a number of members of the clergy are joining front line politics. We have such examples as Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakweka who resigned from Church presidency to join MCP Presidential race hoping to be its 2014 presidential flag bearer saying that he is responding to God’s call in that respect and Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango who said he is praying for God’s confirmation to join politics, I am not sure!
I am writing on personal capacity knowing pretty well that different people would have distinctive interpretation. In that respect, my opinion is not final but others would have a glimpse of sense in it. The issues of pastors getting into politics would not have a one binding answer depending on your understanding but here is what I think of it and subjected to criticism with gratefulness.
Meaning of Politics and Politician
The term politics comes from the Greek word politikos, meaning of, for, or relating to citizens. Some dictionary meanings of politics are; “the profession devoted to governing and to political affairs”, “the art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.”A politician is “a person who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making.” This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election or inheritance.
Leaders are Chosen by God
Reading from the bible the Israelites insisted of having an earthly King to be like other kingdoms despite Samuel’s warnings (1 Samuel 8:1-21). God through Samuel anointed Saul as their first King, then David (1 Samuel 16:1ff), after Saul had fallen short of the grace of God because of sin, then Solomon who even asked for wisdom to rule God’s people (1 Kings 3:1-15) etc. I understand that citing Bible verses would only be relevant to those who believe in it but allow me to argue my case that way for now. When you read 1Kings and 2 Kings, you will note that, God blessed Israel depending on the King in power. God used to abandon Israel whenever the King becomes evil and disobedient to God but blessed them when the King led them to obeying Him.
Basing on the Bible, leaders are to be chosen by God and if our pastors who are joining politics are really called by God to do so, they will easily win the election and we will see the fruits of the Holy Spirit from them (Galatians 5:22-24) which will benefit the whole nation such as reduction in corruption, insults on political podiums, political party trotting which comes as a result of greed, promotion of immoral rights and others evils which have been dominant for the past 20 years. Does any one have a problem with that? However, it will be astonishing to see the called out one loosing election. That will be incredible because God’s plans can never be frustrated in any way. In 1992/93/94, we cried for democracy just as Israelites cried for a king. God may work his own good within the democratic world since that’s the only way one can use to lead the nation. When pastors get involved in politics, care should be taken not to allow politics become their god as others have done to the point that politics is the priority but to lead the country as God would.
Taking it home, the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi (Chapter 5:32:1) gives all its citizens freedom of association with joining politics inclusive. I believe that before everyone else becomes a pastor, s/he is a citizen who is entitled to all rights and freedoms stipulated in our constitution. However, each and every Church denomination has a constitution or manual which guides those who belong to it and by choice people join a particular denomination. In this regard, a pastor of a particular Church denomination is subject to its constitution in respect to joining frontline politics. If their constitution has no problem with it, then let them be, thus depending on their conviction and biblical interpretation of related verses.
Don’t forget God’s Call
Politics should not have to overtake the core purpose of a pastor which we have for the past years witnessed. We had some pastors (names deliberately withheld) who were also in politics but never portray the picture of pastorate; all they did was using obscene languages in parliament, putting the name of the Lord to shame. I remember one rally held in Salima by a veteran politician Gwanda Chakuwamba some years ago when democracy was a toddler in our country, he said that he has theological training in that if politics do not go well with him, he will go to the pulpit to preach. In this case, I would not say that He was called by God into politics since he is not preaching since he became inactive in politics. Remember that Jesus warned us against serving two masters (Matthew 6:24). The motive matters. In case of Dr Lazarus Chakwera, for example, if his claims that God has called him to lead this country are true, I have no problem. I think we would say that we are lucky to have someone called by God to lead us. I also believe that the faith community would rather be associated to Chakwera other than voting for people who have no regard for God. Israel’s Kings such as David were God fearing but also in politics by being Monarchs. God will bless us if our leader is a God fearing. There has been promotion of evil in our society, all in the name of minority rights which may end by having a God fearing leader.
Looking for Greener Pasture?
Politics is not bad, but when pastors enter politics in the name of God for personal gain. This has seen some pastors ditching their call for greener pasture in politics leading them to holding rallies on worship days. Having a God fearing president would be so good, but I am afraid that politics is no longer conducive for pastors. People will not like someone who truly hates evil such as Homosexuality, corruption and others. We are in the world where righteousness is evil and evil is holy. Pastors would be in the danger of serving two masters and later dump God.
We know that democracy, the practice which started in the city of Anthens by such proponents as Aristotle is from two Greek terms; “demos”, meaning people, and “kratos”, meaning rule, means a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally, either directly or through elected representatives but today’s democracy is the opposite where minority are to rule.
Every citizen is a politician in one way or another. We are in one way or another associated to particular political parties including those who deny to vote. Politics is the way to rule or making decisions for the nation. It is not a dirty game but dirty people make it dirty. We make a voice by voting to put leaders of our choice on positions and remove those who have frustrated us. That is politics also. So I wouldn’t say that pastors are looking for greener pastures in politics if God has called them to that ministry. It is better to have God fearing people in governing positions with integrity than political party trotters.
*Pastor, Robert Masikamu: A Malawian Master of Arts Student at Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi, Kenya
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