I’ve been struggling with Christianity for a while. Especially the fact that Jesus didn’t found the “religion” called Christianity in the first place. It used to be a descriptive epithet for a way of life. Not so, anymore.
From my limited understanding of scripture, it would seem that Jesus came to help humanity to restore a long-lost relationship with God. A relationship that the “Law” could not mend. He came to show us how to build lives dedicated to love, good works and social impact. However, I’ve observed that any time people try to mix tradition and culture with the Jesus-life, it results in a disproportionate focus on morality, fear and human control.
Many times, when you critically look at human religious institutions, you wonder where the love, good works and social impact have gone. In their place, you see regimentalism, sacrifices and codes of conduct – essentially, the Law. It was Apostle Paul who said, that anyone who insists on living according to the Law is under a curse (Galatians 3).
The intractable commingling of religion, traditions of men and the Jesus-life has resulted in what I term, Black or African Christianity. This type of Christianity is a cursed legalistic thing. It produces fear, fetishism and bitterness. The African form of Christianity can be vengeful, condemnatory and excessively showy. In some cases, it is also mediocre and unintelligent. It focuses on “miracles” for self, instead of hard work and selflessness for communities. Many who practice this African style of Christianity, have adherents who are more concerned with personally “hammering” than in helping others.
Nations and communities that practice this form of Christianity also tend to be backward and poor. Their adherents are neither salt, leaven nor light, in the societies in which they live. Unlike the scriptural dictum in Ephesians 1: 23 (MSG), these communities are peripheral to the world and play no significant role in culture or the affairs of state. It was not always so. Christianity used to be a force for much good, enlightenment and transformation in Africa. What went wrong?
It seems the African form of Christianity afflicts Blacks in the Western world as well. I once heard about the US General Social Survey, which stated that Charismatic Christians are among the most wretched population groups by religion. Their divorce rates are high, health poor and education limited. Atheists, Catholics and Jews perform better. What the data tells me is that Christians who insist on operating religious traditions, instead of pursuing a liberating relationship with Jesus, are to be pitied. Jesus is neither wretched, unintelligent, selfish nor overly focused on money.
Many first world nations seem closer to practicing the tenets of love and The New Testament, as enshrined in Matthew 25, than African nations that are steeped in Christianity. They practice the principles of Christ without knowing it. When I see viral pictures of Caucasians rescuing “witch” children from death in Africa, I say to myself, “That’s the Gospel in action.”
To be fair, so many Africans love Jesus and are strongly devoted to good works and acts of kindness. But somehow, this is not popular culture and the charlatans are now center stage.
This must change.When you mix tradition & culture with the Jesus-life, it results in a disproportionate focus on morality, fear and control. Click To Tweet