Zimbabwean society has perfected the art of hatred in a very big way. It is no longer only the politicians, as this has encroached into the religious arena. Christians are appalled when traditional practitioners want to take part in religious ceremonies of their own. The best they can do is to ignore them like they do not exist.
The irony though is when traditionalists come across Christians doing their own thing, they are very respectful and will not dare interfere. If Christians on the other hand, could have their way, they would disrupt the activities of the former, calling their rituals demonic practices.
This shows how intolerant Christians are towards other religions. One traditional healer was happy to inform me that one member of their family was a leader/bishop in one denomination. This would be anathema on the Christian’s part.
The scriptures are clear, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you…,that you maybe children of your Father in heaven’.” (Matthew 5: 43-48)The level of hatred is now being exacerbated by those Christians who claim superiority even over others. We hear prophets, pastors, apostles and men of God declaring “back to sender” messages. Someone thinks they are being bewitched and a ritual of “back to sender” is performed and those claiming to have been helped dare go on air claiming that what had been sent to them had been returned to those who had sent it. Such is the tragedy of our faith!
It now seems natural to reject what we had become used to in our lives. They say human beings are rebellious by nature. We have seen people drifting from the so-called mainline churches or historical churches and we thought they were going to improve the quality of worship. Some of us celebrated this move, only to regret at some stage when all sorts of weird behaviours were now being encouraged.
They show their happiness by witnessing the one who is alleged to have sent the spell suffering and dare thank God for that. Then we ask what the Christian gospel is all about. When Jesus cast out the evil spirits from the man tormented by them, he sent them to the swine and not to supposed witches. Characteristically, they have been joined by the US president Donald Trump whose favourite Bible verse is “an eye for an eye.”
Adverts over the radio like “let’s come to bury the witches” that are being flighted on our local channels are very disturbing. They even quote scriptures like “thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22: 18). What does this mean?
The Old Testament called for an eye for an eye but the coming in of the New Testament changed all that. The gospel of Jesus Christ we preach is of peace, unity and forgiveness.
God says revenge is his. We are not in any way encouraged to return evil for evil.
The solution is to love those who hate you. Once you love them, they become enemies no more. You destroy your enemies by loving them. That is what Jesus did. While hanging on the cross Jesus asked for those who had hanged him to be forgiven for they knew not what they were doing.
Where has the gospel of turning another cheek gone to? When someone asks for a jacket, give him/her another one. When you are asked to go for a mile, go for two miles.
Parents are being discarded like they were never worth anything. We hear these days that some churches are providing their members with parents and aunts while the parents who gave birth to them are ignored. Parents are being invited to their children’s weddings while some are not even invited.
Sad stories are told by some parents who discovered that their children were wedding in a few days to come. Some could not get over the shock of it. In-spite of parents having been snubbed, many of them have gone on to witness their children wedding. They have loved even those who have disregarded them.Revenge has become the watch word. While Christianity has not been saintly all along by its involvement in crusades, the message from the bible has been that of advocating for peace, justice and reconciliation. The bible has always taught us to love our parents but this has been thrown out of the window.
You come across a family with a story of a child who has left home and has vowed never to be part of the family again. The church would have taken that child by removing him/her from the family. They are taken through rituals which make them commit themselves to the church and turn their backs on their family.Some have even gone to bid farewell to their relatives, telling them that even when there is a funeral at home they should not be informed. Those who have not experienced such separation may not understand the extent to which such teachings have broken many a family.
Individuals have now turned to support their pastor, ignoring their parents. Cars and properties have been donated to pastors, while parents have not been treated to such.
When Jesus fed the 5 000 from five loaves and two fish, we thought that was going to be the trend. Now we witness 5 000 people feeding one pastor. What a mockery of our faith!
Is this not greediness? What we would have expected is for the pastor to teach his followers to bless their parents first before they bring anything to the church. Perhaps selfishness dictates otherwise.
There are some congregations where working members bring their full salaries to the pastor and he will give back pocket money to them.
Jesus came and took a radical approach to life. He challenged the culture that he was born into even after he had been initiated through the same. He demonstrated that he could be in and above culture because he is God. He said it is not the act of adultery that is the issue only, but that by merely looking lustfully on the opposite sex, one would have already committed a sin.
Could they be taking it from Jesus’s response when he was asked to attend to his parents who had been looking for him and he said those who did his father’s will were his parents and relatives. Jesus, though, never abandoned his mother, even when he was on the cross, he instructed his beloved disciple John “here is your mother.” (John 19: 27) One wonders where we get the teaching of ignoring our parents even to their graves.
It does not help us to then do all we can to have what we call decent burials for our parents yet when they were living we ignored them while being encouraged by the church to do that. But as we have discovered, some of these Christians would have nothing to do with their parents when they needed help the most. They would even prefer not to be told about their death in the first place.
What then happens when one is in the opposition political party? By the same token, they become enemies. Whether one is Christian or not does not matter for all are encouraged to hate those who do not belong.
One would have thought that Christians would lead by example by showing their unfailing love through forgiving even those who could have wronged them. Jesus went to the extent of eating with sinners. A tax collector Zacchaeus, who was a corrupt man found himself sitting at the same table with Jesus. (Luke 19: 1-10). Jesus invited himself to the latter’s home.
Let those with ears hear!
Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College, Harare. Can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org