A plea for Church unity

BY NICHOLAS MKARONDA
Now that The Church has been touched by the wounds and pains of the people of Zimbabwe, it brings glory to God by being one rather than fragmented.
A group of national ecumenical church bodies comprising the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops

Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches have come together to form what they call The Church in Zimbabwe. In defining and identifying themselves, they have distinguished and disassociated themselves with what they call some Christians in Zimbabwe.
Their point of departure is that The Church has remained untouched in the current crisis facing the nation, and now The Church has come together with one voice for constructive engagement with the government of Zimbabwe in resolving the crisis. The Church distinguishes and disassociates itself from some Christians whom it accuses of destructive engagement with the government.
“The Church in Zimbabwe is only beginning to wake up to its role in the social, political and economic affairs of Zimbabwe in a more comprehensive way. As opposed to non-engagement some Christians have chosen the path of aggressive engagement or confrontation with the government. The three umbrella bodies have, however, chosen the path of constructive engagement,” says the document.
Since The Church has identified itself by naming itself, it is important that we bring to the fore some of the Christians being accused of destructive engagement with the government so that they do not remain some ghostly bodies. We have Archbishop Pius Ncube of the Roman Catholic Church in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference, a thousand-plus forum of pastors, the Christian Alliance being convened by Bishop Levy Kadenge of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Women Together in Prayer for Zimbabwe, the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe and the churches in Bulawayo.
This response simply wants to inform The Church and its new-found allies in government and would-be allies from the international community that while The Church remained untouched by the crisis, “some Christians” have been touched for so long that they have wept like the children of Israel in Babylon when they think of Zimbabwe.
It is regrettable that The Church finds the holy anger expressed by ‘some Christians’ as destructive.
It is clear from The Church that the church in Zimbabwe is divided and polarized. One gets the sense that The Church refers to church leaders who occupy certain spaces of power and authority within the confines, structures and rigidities of the EFZ, ZCC and ZCBC; and that ‘some Christians’ refers to the powerless who have been rendered voiceless by The Church that wants to be seen as the voice of those whom it has silenced, and when these refuse to be silenced they are criminalized and demonized as destructive elements in The Church.
It is mischievous for The Church to talk about the strides of the first 15 years of Independence without reference to the orchestrated violence that was meted in Matebeleland and Midlands against unarmed and powerless civilians in search of some 120 or so dissidents. It is mischievous because at the end of the paper, The Church argues that it is in touch with people, it knows how they feel and is perhaps the only body that can represent the people. Not only was The Church quiet when these state atrocities were committed, it remained quiet even when the Catholic Commission on Peace and Justice together with the Legal Resources Foundation made public their findings of the atrocities.
My understanding of the crisis in Zimbabwe as a Christian is that of Jesus who is crucified in Zimbabwe and the challenge of the resurrection. My understanding of why Jesus was crucified in the first century is that he was (and remains) the way, the truth and the life.
As the Way, Jesus illustrates to us God’s interaction with humans and creation – he eats and lives with sinners not only to show them that God cares but to bring them to new life. Sadly, in Zimbabwe, relationships have broken down and those in dominant and powerful positions, be it the secular or the religious, propel their existence by sustaining the broken relationships.
As the Truth, Jesus reveals the omniscient God who knows that which is deep within us, pricks our conscious, lets us make our choices, but exposes those choices for what they really are. For this Jesus is crucified, but the truth in it is that God does not die because Jesus has been crucified – the truth cannot be killed.
The Life in Jesus is the vast possibilities that we have in life abundance – the possibilities of the blind seeing, the dead being raised, the deaf hearing; the resurrection itself. It is the overcoming of the forces of darkness, even where the religious institutions and powers work with secular powers as custodians of darkness.
So long as the way, truth and life are denied in Zimbabwe, Jesus is crucified. The Church that obliterates truth in Zimbabwe works not for the resurrection – it needs the Damascus experience.

Post published in: Opinions

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