The events obtaining on the ground in Zimbabwe have left me with a lot of questions. Is the voice of the people is the voice of God? Is God still in it? Does God Really Appoint Our Leaders?
Sadly the second week of 2019 saw Zimbabwe on fire. Riots, looting and absolute mayhem took front and centre culminating to the total internet shutdown. This all down to the people choosing to express disgruntlement over fuel hikes and the incessant corruption that has become the mainstay of the current government (so-called-the new dispensation)
When confronted with his poor governance performance and failure to deal with rampant corruption, President Mnangagwa seems to have declared war against the citizens, opting to protect the cartels and cash barons who continue to enjoy luxuries at the expense of the poverty-stricken masses.
Part of the problem in Zimbabwe has been and still is the way the modern Christian leadership cowers people into submission and subjugation. Most of these so-called-prophetic churches have become tools that aide the suppression and repression of the people’s will. Military force has been abused by the current government to physically brutalise people. While on the other hand spiritual abuse has also been used to keep the people in line. Many of these spiritual leaders are being used by the government and in return they are left to scam and abuse congregates.
How many times have we heard these so-called prophets saying, “Everything that happened was part of God’s plan”?
Is it really? Is it God’s plan for the masses to be humiliated and brutalised by the military? Is it God’s plan to have these thieving sexual perverts who masquerade as prosperity prophets take lead as community champions? That’s kind of an odd plan for God to have for you, isn’t it?
God is in it?
Many times, calls have been made to pray for Zimbabwe. It almost looks like we pray to be rescued from the pan only to fall straight into the open fire.
Many Christians who believe in the sovereignty of God, have shared a similar scepticism during these turbulent political times. No matter what your political views are, the idea of God’s control in a system which relies on violence and manipulation of the will of the people, creates difficult questions—especially when the political leaders and church leaders are themselves so polarizing.
This uncertain season has left many Christians with more questions than confidence.
Questions could go something like this: “Doesn’t God appoint our leaders?” And if so, is it God’s “plan” for the two most corrupt institutions the church and the government to be standard bearers in Zimbabwe—and maybe even the solution to Zimbabwe’s current crisis?
If God, in His providence chooses a nation’s leaders, then should we not, as the Bible commands, submit to their authority?
This winding road will often lead travellers to two very different destinations.
They will either affirm God’s providence but disagree with His choice; or they will deny His providence at which point His involvement no longer matters. So, what is a better way for us to make sense of this season of uncertainty?
Is the voice of the people the voice of God?
Tisutakakuisa tisutichakubvisa (we gave you the mandate to rule us; and so, we can take that away)
The real question here is not whether God is involved or if He appoints our leaders.
Many who believe the Bible know that all authority comes from God and no person, from parents to presidents, teachers to tyrants rise to that position apart from God’s providence.
As Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch theologian and politician, once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Indeed, everyone and everything belongs to God. The good the bad and the ugly. The corrupt church leaders. The brutal politicians are all God’s creations. The question is why do Zimbabweans always get the worst with regards leaders?
God’s providence and control is not in doubt. The question we’re actually seeking to answer is this: Does God’s providence equal His approval? Is President Mnangagwa’s government the providence of God? Does God approve of the repression and brutality perpetrated by this government?
As Christians we don’t just want to know God’s will, but to stand in it. So, if the answer is “Yes,” to if God’s providence equals His approval, then God has chosen national leaders (whomever they may be, the likes of Chiwengwa and even Chamisa). He must approve of the national leaders and we should support the national leaders, too.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it quickly abandons reason and actually runs counter to the character of God. In order to navigate this kind of question, we have to understand that God’s providence is absolute, but His approval is not.
Understanding the Tension
Simply because something occurs under God’s providence does not mean that He approves of it or desires that it happens.
For example, Scripture tells us that we are all sinners, but we know that God neither approves of our sin, nor does He desire for us to continue sinning. God provides grace for sinners, and the greater the sin, the greater God’s grace.
But Paul makes it abundantly clear in Romans chapter six that this does not mean that we continue to sin in some kind of misguided effort for grace to abound. Likewise, God reigns over human affairs and in his providence, leaders rise and fall. But we absolutely should not assume that all human affairs meet God’s approval.
Of course, understanding the difference between God’s providence and His approval creates tension.
The chief example of this tension is Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate, in a rare democratic move, places Jesus before the people. The authority is his, the choice is theirs and the people chose and cried out “crucify Him!”
Christ, the creator, was crucified on the very tree He created and was put to death under the authority which He granted to Pilate.
At no point was Jesus in limbo, but at no point did God call that event good. Was the crucifixion an evil deed? Yes. Was it ordained by God before the foundation of the world? Yes. Was it committed by evil men, who stood guilty with blood on their hands? Yes. Did God redeem that evil act, so that the very blood on their hands had the power to save them? Yes!
Fast forward to today. Is God sovereign? Yes. Do we have choices in the course of human events? Yes. Are we held responsible for the choices we make? Yes. Does God’s sovereignty give us license to make poor decisions? No, it does not.
Understanding how God’s providence and His approval relate does cause tension, and in that tension faith thrives.
Comfort in the Chaos
Everything that we do in our lives, every vote that is cast, every leader that ascends, all of it happens under the providence of God. However, God’s sovereignty does not give us license for sinful choices.
So as the corruption and chaos in Zimbabwe proceeds, take comfort in knowing that God stands in control amidst all this chaos. But remember, we are called not merely to rest in His control, but to actively display His character in the choices we make. Leaders may rise under His providence, but as long as we choose them, we will be held accountable for whether they meet with His approval.
One other thing, was the looting and destruction of private and public property necessary to make a statement of disgruntlement? Is it justified?
In what other ways could the people express their anger towards the failure of the Mnangagwa government to govern the nation and rid it of corruption?
Please place your response in the comments section below.