Non-Christians in Australia behave better than Christians in Kenya. Those are not my words but the observation of an elderly Australian man I met recently who has lived in Kenya for the past 8 years. He has been frustrated by county and government officials and so far he has not been able to do what he came here to do. It was a coincidental meeting at a seminar in Nairobi. I sat next to him and as we talked during the break he mentioned that he lives in Kitale which is my hometown. My curiosity was aroused and I wanted to know more about him and what he does in Kitale.
So, this guy came to Kenya in 2008 with a friend who was doing some projects at Moi’s Bridge, Trans Nzoia County. He enjoyed his visit and decided he wanted to settle in Kenya. He went back home, packed his bags and a few months later he was in Kitale.
Most things were planned. He works with metal and so he wanted to use his skills to build footbridges in some parts of Trans Nzoia and beyond. This was his mission, he was going to use his own resources to bless the communities. But one thing didn’t occur to him, that he would be asked to pay to help.
He soon realized that he could not practise his charity without a work permit. The day we met he had made yet another visit to the immigration office to check the status of his work visa which is now ‘almost done’. County officials haven’t been supportive of him either. Trying to get permits and partnerships with the county has been frustrating. Nearly every official has directly or indirectly asked for a bribe. They want him to bribe them to help the citizens.
Just like himself, most of those he met identified themselves as Christians, and this is what confused him. Because they were the same people who wanted ‘facilitation’ to help him do his work. As he narrated the story to me I could feel his frustration as he compared public officers in Australia and Kenya.
And then he quipped ‘non-Christians in Australia behave better than Christians in Kenya’.
You have heard it and I have too, that Kenya is 80% Christian which is evidently untrue. Maybe we need to correct that and say that 80% of Kenyans are non-Muslim as I heard someone suggest a few days ago.
Non-Muslim or not, a lot of Kenyans go to church which could be over 60% of the population. On a typical Sunday, I can hear at least three churches from my flat, all loud enough, maybe competing for ‘God’s attention’. I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how being loud helps a Christian.
I have to qualify here that a Christian in this article is a person who identifies him/herself as a believer in God.
But then we have to ask ourselves some questions. Why are we so corrupt as ‘Christians’? Where is the disconnect? Why are the statistics wrong? Are we incapable of doing the right thing? Are we in some kind of captivity? Why is it that our character gets left so behind as we ‘grow in faith’?
Wait! Do we really believe in Jesus?
Do we know God or do we have some shades of Him? Are we even Christians in the first place or are we living in a ‘Christian culture’?
In Kenya right now politicians are always in churches on Sundays. You would think a revival has broken out and our leaders are seeking God, but its known that most of them are casting their nets wide ahead of the elections. Our ‘Gospel artistes’ are making tabloids lots of money in clicks and ads by the stories of their crazy lives. Teachers, parents and students colluding to steal exams in ‘Christian schools’.
A judgement rises in us when we see politicians, musicians, teachers behaving like that, mostly before we examine our own lives and realize that somehow we are bad Christians. Low or high key we fall short at some point in our walk of faith. The difference is that while down, some raise their voice and call on the Perfector while others try to get up with their own strength.
Let’s look at some reasons why Christians behave badly.
Not really saved in the first place
You cannot be saved by Jesus and not know that you are saved just like you cannot be immersed in water and not know that you are wet. Some people behave badly because they are not Christians in the first place and so they are just living their natural carnal life. If it doesn’t bother you giving or receiving a bribe, having an affair, cheating, stealing then you are not saved. There is no Holy Spirit in you to convict you that those things are wrong. I believe that a true Christian will always know when they sin, maybe a bit later but they always know and it bothers them. The Holy spirit leads them towards repentance.
If a person identifies as a Christian and they are indifferent concerning bad things that are happening in or around them, then they need to ask the question; Am I born again in the first place?
Christian culture rather than Christianity
I think most people are here. Born and raised in a Christian family or community. They went to Christian schools and often attended church as kids until they left home and then charted their own course. They never really made a conscious decision to follow Christ when they reached the age of understanding but some lessons from their church days linger in them and they use them here and there.
Problem is they are not anchored, whatever godly lessons they have in them are not updated and barely enough to guide them in a changing and challenging world. The seeds sown in their formative years are slowly dying and so they end up behaving just like a non-believer.
Their culture is ‘Christian’, they have nothing against church, they even attend occasionally especially when they visit their parents or for specific events. When they get married they allow and even support their wives and kids to go to church but they cannot say that they know Jesus for themselves. They would like to think they are Christians but when an altar call is made, they always have some doubt of where they really stand.
Taking grace for granted
Can someone be truly saved and still behave badly? Yes, and this is just my opinion. I think it is possible for a born again Christian to behave badly, in the process of growth. Salvation means receiving Christ into our lives by faith, it is a free gift of God through His grace and mercy.
We also understand that there is a process of sanctification, renewing our mind from the old sinful nature that we were in into the new life that we have accepted. We do this by obeying God’s word and heeding to instruction of the Holy spirit in us.
Now, is it possible to behave badly in this renewal process? Yes! In the process of growth we can stumble simply because we do not know better. As we grow we become better people by the help of the Holy Spirit in us.
We see failure a lot in the bible. We see genuine failure, genuine repentance and genuine restoration. Sadly, we also see those who let their hearts be hardened by sin despite God’s constant intervention.
But then we can take grace for granted, which can be a result of lack of understanding. When we sin knowing that God will forgive us anyway when we repent, then we do not understand grace. It can be a long explanation but simply put, the grace of God is what saves and gives us power to say no to ungodliness. It cannot bring salvation and at the same time give us a license to sin. That is a contradiction.
People who perpetually use grace as license to sin may belong in the category ‘Not really saved in the first place’.
The danger of fake Christians
It becomes hard to evangelise these days, especially to people who know you well. They simply don’t see the fruit of your Christianity and so they wonder why should they be part of that. In fact, they know where to ‘catch you’ and the buttons to press in order to prove their point.
Then you console yourself that even Jesus was rejected in his home town. They did not reject Jesus, they rejected the version of Jesus that you portray.
When you think of the long-term ramifications of fake Christianity, we end up raising a mediocre and hypocritical generation which cannot stand by what they believe. People who cannot give you their word and keep it because they have seen it perfected in the lives of their parents, older siblings, teachers and leaders. They think it’s the way life is supposed to be lived.
Roots before fruits
You know an avocado tree does not struggle to produce avocados. Once a farmer sows it in good soil, fertilizes it and makes sure there is enough water the rest is obvious. The tree will produce its fruit.
Maybe as Christians we have focused so much on fruits and neglected the roots. Maybe the reason why we behave badly is that our roots are not deep enough, our lives not surrendered enough and our convictions not godly enough.
Maybe we need to go back to the cross and ask ourselves whether we truly understand the sacrifice offered there for us. Maybe we need to open the bible and understand what true salvation means. Maybe we need to quit doing Christianity by our own efforts and surrender the driver’s seat to the one who knows the way.
Maybe we just need to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.