Arthur Owiti | Posted March 11 2009, –
Middle Class Christianity in Kenya
Concerning what some call’ Middle Class Christianity’ It is titled so because it is practiced and held mostly by the well to do or those climbing- up –the- ladder Christians. Personally, I grew up in and served zealously in this form of the Christian faith but rejected it on coming to the knowledge of the truth. In summary middle class Christianity in urban Kenya is Americanized/Westernized in form, style and doctrine.
A look at the characteristics of Western Christianity will confirm that most urban Christians in Africa are eating from the same plate of Western Christianity. Mega –churches are becoming common in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya like mega churches abroad.
Church music borrows songs from abroad, although the western thought of pluralism has restored the use of African dance music in church. A lot of freedom is seen in the mode of worship, as seeker friendly churches which are seen as bringing the e youth to church, are on the rise.
Being a highly educated lot, many of these Kenyan Christians read a lot of Christian literature at the expense of the word of God. Some use the ideas from the books to be the foundation of truth instead of testing the books by the word of God. Sadly, it is from these books that doctrine and truth is established in the lives of the believers.
The teachings given in the churches are mainly based on well being, prosperity being the most major theme in the Evangelical churches in the cities. This is increased by the media outlets that air TBN programs and local programs that are no different or a rendition of what is on Western Christian media. Divine Health –wealth, Promotion, Deliverance from Curses, Good Family Relationships, Dating are some of the main teachings in the middleclass Christianity. This is because many have their minds and hearts focused on these things or could be facing challenges in these areas.
This type of Christianity has brought more harm than good in Kenya. There is a laxity towards sin thus the fear of God is diminished. Sin displayed in Western TV and cities is covertly in the churches and sometimes open thanks to the media exposures. Many do not see the need to repent sine we are saved by grace. One told me that he knows he has no sin so the repentance message should go the’ children of the devil’
It also was this Christianity that added to some of the causes of post election violence. Many churches encouraged the young Christians (who rarely vote) to vote in an election which was openly divisive. Thus it divided Christians economically, tribally and religiously resulting to chaos and death
Middle class Christianity has brought hypocrisy. With many middle class Christians attending church, one is shocked to find the gap of economic inequality so large. Christians are known to be givers and are to care for the poor among them without Government aid.
However in this case one can even find poor Christians totally disconnected from Rich Christians. This exposes the loveless of middle class Christianity, which when it returns to love, will be able to improve the state of many poor Christians and reduce poverty. It has also exposed that these Christians worship the Government instead of God; Government must be good for our lives to be good mentality or seeing Government as savior and fixer of their problems
Middle class Christianity has many individualized Christians thus creating selfishness. Out of these when one goes to church they group them selves in social cliques or clubs. Thus division and partiality is what one tends to see amongst the old and the young instead of impartial treatment and love.
Moral Decay is also born out of this Christianity. Divorce is increasing, rebellion in the family set up is on, immorality, adultery, absence of parent’s guidance due to love of money and economic pressure etc .This is because the Christians faith is now focused on earthly things making the spiritual life dead. A weak inner man cannot overcome sin and thus sin prevails and spreads in the Christian home.
Disregard of the word of God is another great effect of this Christianity. Many are drunk on books, Christian TV, websites, busy lives, that bring confusion and being unwatchful in these last days. And some of those who know what time it is are lost in theological arguments on rapture, Israel and other topics that are not even in the bible.
Thus sharing the truth with many who hold on to such Christianity requires patience, wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s guidance because such Christianity hardens the heart since what it portrays is godliness when actually it is a form of godliness denying the power thereof.
What is clear is that the time for us to repent has come. Money based Christianity or Middle class Christianity is not even mentioned in the bible as true faith .Instead it makes us enemies of the cross of Christ. The true image of Christianity is that of Jesus Christ and obedience to his gospel.
We are called to be holy and separate from the world. My prayer is that God would open our eyes to see our helpless estate and return to the ancient paths of holiness and love in Jesus Christ. Let us, the zealous Kenyans and Africans who subscribe to middle class Christianity examine ourselves and act by returning to the truth in the name of Jesus Christ.
True Restoration and the Word of God
Many have been having revival events and conferences, hoping to rekindle the love of God and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Whereas this is a good step forward, let us not forget the example of revivals given in the bible. They all had one common bond —a return to the Word of God in practice in both individual and collective repentance.
The days of King Josiah were marked with spiritual renewal or revival. After finding the book of the Law and hearing its reading, the King fell in mournful repentance in sackcloth. He saw and heard for himself how his nation strayed from the commandments and the covenant of the Lord. The action he took was to destroy the abominable idols and their high places (individual responsibility) then the nation pledged whole hearted allegiance to the Lord (collective responsibility).
Ezra and the remnant from exile also were revived on the reading and hearing of the Word of God. Ezra first sought to do the commandments of God (individual responsibility) then went to teach the people to make them understand what the scriptures said. On the hearing of the word of God, the people could not help but weep. However Ezra ordered them not to weep for it was a holy day. The fact is they saw how far they were from God when they went back to the Word of God. Their response to the word led to repentance by them turning away from the strange wives some of them acquired.
In the early part of the 1900s it was the reading of the bible that made African Christians rise to genuine Christianity. They saw the hypocrisy of some of the missionaries because they read and knew what the bible says about the true Christian faith. This led to the rise of independent churches, some true others false. This also led to revival in some quarters that brought fellowship and church without being organized by man.
However, today apostasy and false doctrines have put many Christians to sleep in Africa. Nonetheless if we here in Africa and around the world individually repent by returning to God’s word under the new covenant, in doctrine and deeds in Jesus Christ, then when we meet collectively we can repent and be restored for the greater works of the Lord in these Last Days.