That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about the state of our nation, Kenya. Everything is askew, like a bus with a broken center bolt; we’re hurtling forwards and sideways at the same time, hoping to somehow arrive at the next destination in one piece.
This twisted bus that the world sees from the outside is even worse on the inside. Just imagine … the bus preacher is a pickpocket, there’s a constant tug of war about who should be driving, a mechanic recently got thrown under the bus and died, the conductor lost a bunch of tickets, a herd of journalists are scrambling over a drunkard with a paper bag of githeri, everyone else is hurling shoes and groceries at each other, and a baby got trampled to death in the whole fracas. What a mess, indeed!
There is fear, anger, mistrust, disgust … even hatred! Bile has left its proper domain and seeped into hearts.
It’s as if the dams of discreet politics have burst, and in the midst of all this, men drowning in a flood of vice and vitriol begin to clutch at anything, hoping to find—if nothing else—hope itself. They grope with questions, such as “What is wrong with us?” and “Why are we like this?” and “Who is to blame?” and “How can we change things?” and so on.
The one question I’d like to respond to though, from a conservative Christian perspective, is the question:
“Where are the men of God?”
This is an increasingly common question. And it’s a legitimate one, is it not? I mean, “Men of God are always vocal about evil in society” … so … where are they when evil in all its forms seems to have reared its head in people’s hearts right now? Preachers love to loudly crack their whips in order to keep us on the straight and narrow … how then can they be outsung by crickets at this dark hour, remaining silent when the entire country has gone askew?
1. Who Do You Think You Are?
Yes, you read that right. Just who do you think you are?!
The principle here is really simple. True pastors are not primarily social justice activists, they are shepherds. As such, they don’t answer to the court of public opinion. They serve their local churches under direct command from God himself by teaching the Bible faithfully and caring for the spiritual, emotional, and sometimes even mental and financial needs of each member. Hear what the Apostle Paul said to the leaders of the Ephesian church:
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
— Acts 20:26-28
Such gravity! They were in charge of Christ’s most prized possession, a bride purchased with his own blood! And how were they to dispense this leadership? Through declaring, as Paul had done, “the whole counsel of God,” meaning “everything in the Scriptures”. He goes on to say in verses 33 to 35:
I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
— Acts 20:33-35
This is an immense task! And as if that’s not enough, the book of Hebrews holds them accountable in absolute terms:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
— Hebrews 13:17,18
Pastors will give an account before God himself. Those who are faithful realize this and with fear and trembling seek to spend the better part of their energies learning and teaching the Scriptures, then helping their flock apply it in their daily lives and struggles.
In light of this, is it not ridiculous to dictate to “men of God” how they are supposed to be “men of God”? You’re not the boss of them! Who gave you the right to tell them how they are to serve their master, God? If they show up at every fight you invite them to, are they really “men of God” or just “men of men”? They don’t report to you, whoever you or your homeboys think you are.
True men of God are not here to leave a legacy. They are not here to ensure that they write themselves into the right side of history (whatever’s left of it, anyways). They are here to serve Christ the chief Shepherd with 100% commitment and to tend to his flock, a responsibility more weighty than you can probably fathom. So before you demand that they add their voice to the noise, take a chill pill and think again.
So I exhort the elders (i.e. a synonym for pastors) among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
— 1 Peter 5:1-5, brackets mine
The tasks and sacrifices of authentic ministry are above your pay grade.
2. Where Have You Been?
When an unserviced car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, is it the mechanic’s fault?
I find it incredible that people who on a normal day want little or nothing to do with local churches suddenly gain the audacity to demand that “the church” join their crusade (pun intended). It’s a little funny, actually.
Look, if you want to hear what pastors are saying about stuff that affects you, go to church and get involved. If your pastors are not teaching the Bible and taking good care of you, find another church. There are solid men out here being faithful every single week, rightly dividing the word of truth with mechanical precision and getting their hands greasy dealing with people’s real issues. Find them. Get serviced (again, pun intended).
Remember that media houses focus on the bizarre and the shocking. Don’t expect them to feature preachers who faithfully repeat the same old story, that because of Adam’s sin, man is dead from birth but that there’s the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus.
3. What Are You Going to Do?
The irony of it all, is that according to the Bible, every Christian is a “man of God.” Remember how the Ephesian elders were supposed to teach the whole counsel of God? Paul said this in his letter to Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:16
So every Christian, i.e. “the man of God”, is to be equipped by Scripture. Equipped for what? “Every good work,” it says. Every Christian is called to “ministry.”
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ
— Ephesians 4:12
Did you catch that? The shepherds (i.e. pastors) are to equip you, the saint (according to the Bible, every Christian is a saint, forget what the Catholics say) for the work of ministry … for every good work … for building up the body of Christ, including those among them that are facing various injustices.
Just as Jesus taught, the question is not, “Who is my neighbor?” The question really is, “Am I a good neighbor?”
So on second thought, please go ahead and keep asking, “Where are the men of God?”
So long as you also ask, “Am I being a man of God?”
— Huston Malande.