“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” – Romans 1:16 (NIV)
“Ya, the Gospel is great and all, but we need more than that! This message of Salvation isn’t moving Africa forward” (Tired African Christian)
Let’s be honest. If you were born and raised in a corrupt, chronyistic, nepotistic, tribalistic, patrilineal, dictatorial kleptocracy like Kenya, wouldn’t your response be more akin to the tired African than it would be to the Apostle Paul?
While I genuinely empathize with all the impulses of the tired African, we all should ask ourselves, what is the chief end of man? To what end did God create individual Africans, people groups in Africa (tribes), and the entire, beautifully diverse tapestry of people that we call Africans?
The answer to that question is (and forever will be) to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (1Corinthians 10:31, Psalm 73:25). God created all things for His glory (Psalm 150), which is why to sin is to fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). To sin is to wilfully or unconsciously rob our Creator of the glory that is rightfully His – something every human, and yes, every African has done.
Unsurprisingly, to rob, the eternal and holy God of His glory is to rightfully bring upon ourselves eternal and holy wrath. We have sinned against Him, and like our first parents, we die for it (Romans 6:23). We die physically, and worse yet, we die eternally – separated from God’s loving presence and consigned to His just and eternal wrath. Dear tired African Christian, I understand how for you, living in this continent can feel a bit like hell. Just a cursory study of our crime, corruption, poverty, and failed geopolitical States would make your position understandable.
However, the reality is that for the African, there is a fate worse than living in a failed geopolitical State. For African tribes, there is a fate far worse than state-sponsored marginalization, torment, and ethnic cleansing. It is the eternal torment of Africans (and all people groups), justly paying for their sin against an eternally holy God! (Luke12:5)
Do you see it? The problem here transcends our history, present or future, because this problem transcends time. This problem carries with it eternal consequences that can’t be undone after the grave. The greatest problem Africans face is that they are sinners in the hands of an angry God.
But God (2 of the best words in the Bible and arguably in the entire English language) demonstrates His love in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Here is the solution to the African’s eternal problem – God Himself, gave Himself, to save us from Himself. God was so holy He demanded a sacrifice for sin, yet He was so gracious, He provided the sacrifice for sin. By turning away from our sin and trusting in Christ, we can be forgiven of our sin, reconciled to God and adopted into His family as His eternal children (John 3:16-18).
The Gospel means that regardless of our state in this life, for those who are in Christ – our best is yet to come. Does that mean we do nothing about the state of our beloved Continent? Does that mean we turn a blind eye to the wickedness and injustice that has come to not only marr but mark African countries? Does that mean that we say to ourselves, “I’m going to heaven, so too bad for everyone else”? Not at all!
When we obey everything from the Great Commission to the Great Commandment, God uses His redeemed to be little pockets of light that shine for Him as a new humanity, showing a new way to live in the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (Matthew 5:13-16). He particularly shows the Africans around us what life could be like by the witness of a local church being loving toward its own (John 13:34-35).
You see my beloved tired African sibling. It is the Gospel that solves our most dire problem and animates us to solve the less dire, but very severe earthly problems we have. Working for African flourishing is not incongruent with the Gospel. It is a product of the Gospel. My fellow tired African Christian, you don’t need to diminish the Gospel to elevate the socioeconomic flourishing of Africans. Preach the Gospel, use words because they are necessary (Romans 10:14-15), and as you do, live out a life of holy love towards your neighbour. Work for their earthly good, and work especially for their eternal good in Christ.
If we do that, will it make Africa a 1st world Christian Utopia? No. Will it make Africa a godly version of Western Europe? Unlikely. What it will do, is make us – the church of Jesus Christ, unworthy, but faithful servants who shine like stars for Christ in our wicked and perverse countries. Like you, my fellow tired African Christian, I pray for spiritual, socioeconomic, and political revival across Africa. But more than that, we need to pray for revival in our homes and our churches, that we may raise faithful Christians wherever God places them in this continent. Christians who will love their fellow Africans enough to introduce them to Christ – the only true solution to their eternal problem. Christians who are not ashamed of the Gospel – the power of God to save first the Jew, then the African.