Liberia: How the Church Can Change Liberia

opinion

As events unfold in Liberia over the years, we are witnessing the devolution of a nation. It doesn't matter which side of the political aisle you rest, Liberia is increasingly becoming a divided nation as signs of disunity and conflicts abound. From family breakdowns, violence, economic meltdowns to the abiding selfish divide that captures the three branches of government's inability to function, it is clear we are a fraying nation. Additionally, the moral decay is engulfing us. Whether it is misuse of public funds, resources, a media that continues to dumb down decency, or an educational system that increasingly seeks to impart information without ethics in the name of freedom from religion, our homeland is in serious trouble! Apparently, things are unraveling at warp speed.

At the same time, we face a threat not only our future, but the destiny of our children and grandchildren as well. Liberia, a land enshrined in liberty for all, is quickly becoming a place of nightmare where there is no guarantee for individual safety. Arm robbery and theft are increasingly posing serious threat as more and more citizens become disillusioned with the direction things are going. People gather in various quarters - be it government sanctioned summit or civic groups - seeking to find solutions to the myriad of issues plaguing us, and yet, real long-term answers continue to elude us.

In the midst of all this, God's church seems to be impassive in praying for real answers to real problems, in spite of increased presence of Christian literature, churchgoers, programming, and facilities. God is calling Liberia to turn back to Him, in the hope that He will reverse our course and restore our unity to His definition of what a nation ought to be, when it operates under His rule. Such restoration must be led by His church; for God will empower the church to change the Executive Mansion (Ephesians 3:10). Liberia's best hope is God and His rule through the church.

The church operating under His authority is the means for the realization of that hope. The church alone has been given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19). I believe God, working through the church, can bring genuine spiritual transformation and tangible change to rebuilding Liberia.

Therefore, I encourage, inspire, and challenge believers in Christ Jesus to become disciples through whom our God can work to bring revival to His church and through the church, to our beloved Liberia.

Liberia's Problem is Spiritual

Read online news, newspapers or turn on political talk shows at any given time and you will be privy to turmoil and ruin on a myriad of levels. True, some stories rise to the surface as having a greater and more long-term impact, but the sheer volume of crisis in our homeland today is alarming. News analysts often give a political, economic, or even social diagnosis for what had gone wrong. Moreover, the media and others hold the Liberian culture as culprit for our problems. Yet, despite it all, we rarely make a spiritual connection to our problems.

The condition in Liberia today and in our lives, is spiritual at its root and requires a spiritual solution. The right diagnosis is that we have committed cosmic treason against God (Romans 3:23). We cannot discount the impact we are experiencing as a nation under crisis. In Romans chapter 1, we clearly discover that the root cause of destruction and devastation is often tied to the physical consequences of turning away from God.

However, we just think that the economy tanked, the collective health of our citizenry diminished, dysfunctional families, insidious redefinition of marriage under the rubric of gender equality, and political uncertainty erupt by themselves, while government sees these problems too large to handle. Because of hearts hardening toward and turning from God, He allowed -- as the natural consequence of spiritual rebellion -- internal damage and deterioration to occur, ultimately affecting a nation. It is not that the people referenced in Romans didn't know God either. In fact we read, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks" (verse 21).

They distanced themselves from God and His Word, which is a pattern we see in the Old Testament times of spiritual judgment that serves as the core cause of those judgments. The root of individual, family, and societal mess still stems from the same cause of distance from God. The church is not immune from similar root problem, either.

Is the Church's Influence Diminishing?

It appears that the church has become a co-conspirator in its own demise through compromise with the culture. The church has lost its ability and authority to influence those around us. We have divided and aligned ourselves with the power and preferences of man. We have let the compromising realities of politics erect a division between us, permitting political expedience to override the kingdom of God.

Until we recognize each other as representatives of the same kingdom, thus responding through an intentional embracing of oneness in purpose, we will continue to contribute to the devolution of Liberia. Either two things are happening in the face of all these things: the end time is near as ever before with expectation of Christ's return to judge and establish his earthly kingdom or we are enduring an active or passive wrath of God whereby He allows a person or a society to experience the consequences of their rejection of Him. The more people marginalize the true God of the Bible the more chaotic things become.

The crises we face in Liberia should open the door for revival when God's church returns to Him in humility and repentance. We have the ability to revive our social and cultural benefits very much so. The Liberian church can be empowered when it turns about to God in repentance. Church, used in this context, is not necessarily a building. Rather, it refers to every professing followers of Jesus Christ (Body of Christ).

God is the True Solution

The problem with Liberia today is that we turn too quickly between God and other things that we look to in His place. As a result Liberia is undergoing the consequences through active and passive wrath of God. Our nation's ills are not merely the result of corrupt politicians, for our troubles can be traced directly to ineffective Christians (believers in Christ Jesus). The real tragedy is that the Liberian church, as a whole, has not fully advance God's kingdom and principles in society in order to be godly influence for good in Liberia. Moreover, when God is your problem, only God is your solution.

As mentioned already, the impetus behind the problems, even crises, occurring in Liberia today is spiritual, even though the symptoms reveal themselves as physical, social, financial, cultural, and more. Those are merely the fruit. That's why we will never see lasting solutions until we - the body of believers - appropriately return to God. Until we hear His voice.

Until we humbly fast and pray and get on the same page of seeking the face of God. Liberia's solution to its problems will not be found in the executive office of the presidency. In a speech, President George Weah revealed this divine fact, knowing it is not him but God can save and change Liberia: "I ask Liberians to pray so that God will bring peace and stability, and bring about unification to ourselves." Our solutions will primarily be found in the house of God, because God is ultimately in charge and God's people have priority access to Him.

No Lasting Solution and Change in Politics- Only God

The problem is that too many people are looking to the government for solutions. They believe the government can save them from all the woes of life. And because of that, they see the ballot box as a way out in the election of public officials. Thus, putting their hope in the political realm. But God warns us about what happens when we put our hope in kings (1 Samuel 8:9-18). There is no salvation in such thing as government (Judges 8:22-23).

There is no need to look any further, because God alone sits as the potentate of the universe, saying - as He did through the prophet in Ezekiel 43 - "I am the only Savior in town." Therefore, what we need in our nation today is a radical, comprehensive, covenantal return to the God of the Bible, our true and only Savior. We can do so through collective revival when we seek revival from the individual level to the family, church, and society. Moreover, we need to integrate and influence culture through all possible media. These efforts will not only require the church, but also require the cooperation of the masses for the common good.

Because God is the Sovereign of His universe, it follows that He is intimately concerned with the political affairs of the nations. Nothing happens in the governments of men that does not flow out of the sovereign rule of God. "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 2:11). All through the Bible we see God placing people strategically in the political realm (Genesis 41:38-49; Daniel 1:8-21; 2:46-49; 6:1-3; Judges4-5 ). Moreover, God created the church to act as a vehicle for his rule and glory.

To talk about the activity of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son both in history and in the future is to merge the sacred with the secular in the arena of politics. We may also talk about separation of church and state, there can never be a separation of God and good works because good works bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16). Nevertheless, we must be mindful of insidious politics that can cause division and hatred instead of love. God's house belongs to Him and, therefore, politics of our day should have no place there.

It is not the CDC's view and God's view that we are to proclaim in the church. Neither is it UP's CPPs, COP's , LP's view and God's view that we are to have. Only God's view supersedes all in all. God has given us a roadmap as a blueprint through His Word to upright society. It is only God who rules, and His people have been called to influence society. Therefore, the goal and the bedrock of our activity is for us to become Christ's true disciples to bring glory to Almighty God.

God is Calling our Nation to Pray

Unrighteousness and evil have dominated the Liberian culture because God's glory has been marginalized. Make no mistake about it: Liberia's future is not in the hands of the politicians or the social scientists. Most don't know what to do. They are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). The reason the future of our culture is in the hands of Christians is that the cause of our cultural demise is spiritual. And if a problem is spiritual, its cure must be spiritual. Our greatest sources of hope we have is the promise that we can move God's heart and hand through prayer. We must return to our knees. If we are to restore our whole nation, including great family life, this incredible verse holds everything you need to know.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In this hallmark passage, God calls us to pray. Prayer is an earthly request for heavenly intervention. Prayer enacts God's hand in history like nothing else because prayer is relational communication with God. In the midst of the motions, we dare not forget that what is on the inside is what matters most. Going to church and filling up on good music, worship, fellowship, and the Word is good, but until we have the right stuff down deep within - the living Spirit of God - we will continue to merely bump along, not getting far at all. One of the greatest tragedies of the Liberian church today is that we are operating like everyone else does - like a civic group or social party.

We know the God of the universe and the Creator of the nations, yet we are sitting around waiting for our solutions to come from the powers-that-be. God has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who can. The root of the problem facing us, though, keenly reflects what the prophet Ezekiel spoke of concerning the Israelites in his day. The Israelites, like Liberians today, no longer comprised one nation under God. The prophets words, found in Ezekiel 43, addressed the return of the glory of God to the temple. God's previous absence had brought chaos in the land.

The citizens witnessed an increase in crime, social deterioration, and a lack of order as Ezekiel announced God's return and reasons for leaving a wayward people (Ezekiel 43:7-9). Human kings (the government) set up shop among God's rule in God's house. God had made clear that His house was to have only one throne-His own. But Israel had allowed politics to interfere with God's house. Because of that, God's glory left. God's covering departed. His influence, power, protection, and guidance was removed because Israel invited another throne to sit next to His own. In today's Liberia, they had allowed partisan politics, tribalistic practices, secularism, humanism, and the likes to intrude on God's viewpoint and His rule-in His house.

Conclusion

The absence of righteousness in the Liberian culture has everything to do with the absence of God's people living as His disciples and thus influencing the culture. Jesus said we are the "salt" and "light"of the earth. Salt penetrates food for good taste while "light" shines in the dark. We are called to penetrate the culture for godly influence. Indeed our elected officials of the political landscape to be servants according to Romans chapter 13, but their politics is not the "salt and "light" of the earth." Why? Because the people of God are the only ones endowed with the spiritual resources necessary to do God's work God's way (Matthew 5:13-16).

If enough of us will commit to follow Christ Jesus as His disciples, we will gain the ability to positively influence our culture and our country, turning to God. Otherwise, we are guilty of helping to destroy Liberia simply by our spiritual neglect, inertia, and lack of commitment. Our culture is deprived of righteousness because we fail to live as disciples of Christ Jesus to influence the Liberian culture. The nagging and challenging question remains: are we ready to influentially penetrate the decaying culture of our time with the Gospel - the good news?

The author, Alexander Redd, is a Liberian and Christian theologian. A founding member of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), he formerly worked as a broadcast journalist in Liberia and served as guidance counselor at both Oakland and Berkeley Unified School Districts in California.

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