Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a guy who seems to want to refute any “God talk” I put online. He usually tries to make it a conversation about countries. From his comments, there are a few things I pick out:
- He believes the practice of religion (chief of which is Christianity) is one of the biggest reason for African countries’ underdevelopment
- He thinks that western countries have moved on from Christianity and live better by doing that
I try to always respect the opinions expressed by other people. No matter how much they differ from my convictions
In spite of this, I cannot help but wonder if there is a misunderstanding about God and Christianity. And if we stretch that thought to its end, a lack of connection between God and the prosperity of countries.
So what has God got to do with it?
What Is The Meaning Of Christianity?
Almost everyone has an opinion of Christianity. Some see it as a tool for oppression and subjugation of personal expression. And they have valid reasons for this point of view
Some see it as a collection of dogmas from days long gone with no relevance to the thinking modern man. They have a smart way to explain this opinion
I will try not to go metaphysical in explaining Christianity. Christianity is meant to give personal assurance of being accepted by God while giving the power to live with confidence to serve God and man in a God-honoring way.
Christianity is both personal and relational. And there is no dysfunction between both aspects. To ignore either would be to reduce the expression of the Christian faith
The personal nature of Christianity creates a transformation that can be seen in every public relationship.
And this is why the practice of true Christianity is meant to influence every sphere of human interaction.
It starts with you, moves to your closest relationships and it spreads to relationships on the outer realms. And when more people practice it, it creates changes in all layers of the society
When Christianity Got The Wrong Mix
If you are like most people, you want to be able to explain why some things happen.
And it was no different in the past. Early Christians reflected their faith in their relationships and it influenced their behavior.
Centuries later, these behaviors were codified and became the source of writing the laws in most western countries.
But as years rolled on, the tyranny of men who were profiting on others using organized religion made most western countries throw out Christianity.
This is why some think that Christianity has failed. Christianity has been mixed with religion, politics or economics. And this has left people with a poor view of it.
When Christianity Changed A Society
I have had the opportunity of visiting countries in the west and made some interesting discovery.
Despite the overt disinterest in Christianity, there is an embrace of behaviors that Christianity stands for. A lot of this is down to the carry-over from days when Christian behavior formed the basis for developing the law.
The Christian lifestyle is been practiced in bits without acknowledging the Christian faith. I have seen people who would want to have nothing with Christianity show compassion in ways that would shame some Christians
The practice of protecting and providing for the least of society: these are Christian principles at work.
People have adopted the Christian lifestyle without embracing the Christian faith.
It’s the age of the moral man
When God Blesses A Country
A country may not be Christian but God will bless it for practicing charity, serving its people in justice and defending the interests of the vulnerable.
This does not mean they live with God’s stamp of approval. It simply means that the “goodness” of the society will sustain its prosperity
Founding countries on justice and truth will extend the length of prosperity the countries enjoy. Justice is important to God: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” Ps 89:14
God will bless countries because of the good found in them.
It’s a bit like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ten men doing “good” in it could have done the trick and guaranteed its survival. The city was not destroyed because of only the bad men in it. It was destroyed because of having less than ten good men in it.
When God Takes Time
One of the things that happen when people hear stuff like this, they come up with an exception. So, I bet you are probably thinking “there are countries that are bad but still enjoy prosperity, so what do I have to say about that?”.
Well, I have an example to work with from Bible. Let’s look at the Canaanites.
In Gen 13:14-17, God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham. Yet, He did not give him the order to clear out the current inhabitants.
According to God, He would let the current inhabitants stay there for 400 more years so they could be as “big and bad” as they wanted. (Gen 15:12-16).
It seems that God gave the land to the Canaanites but because of their sin, He was taking them out. But He would still give them time to get their act together or become as “big and bad” as they could.
By the way, God even gave them 30 years extra before deciding to move out the Israelites from Egypt. (Ex 12:40,41). They even got another 40 years extra because God punished the Israelites by having them wander in the wilderness for their lack of faith in Him.
If we add the numbers up, the Canaanites had almost 750 years before God executed the wipe-out program on them:
– God promised Abraham the land of Canaan about 25 years before Isaac was born,
– 180 life years of Isaac,
– about 70 years from Jacob since he was born when Isaac was 60 years old and lived in Egypt for only 17 years
And let’s not forget, the land of Canaan was really booming during all this time – except for few years of famine recorded in the Bible. The 12 Isreal spies came back with a big bunch of goodies to show how good the land was. Num 13:23, 27
Just think of that – the Canaanites that God had given a wipe-out order on were living large and enjoying good times all through these years.
Don’t worry if the bad guys are having an open-house party, God will still come for them.
Why Are Countries Blessed
God blesses countries because of the good He sees in them.
And Christianity, when lived right, brings the greatest good to countries. God may bless unchristian countries if they govern based on principles that align with the Christian lifestyle.
The Christian lifestyle is founded on justice, truth, love, and righteousness. Countries that claim to be Christian and do not live by these principles are lining themselves up for an end-of-civilization event. It may take time but it’s bound to happen.
So, I don’t think Christianity fails countries – it’s the countries that failed it.
G.K Chesterton wrote “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried”
And that is why a number of people hide behind the toga of laziness and blame it on Christianity. Instead of taking action, they sit, sing kumbayah under the sun and wait for everything to fall from the sky
The Israelites discovered that the promised land meant no more manna from the sky. They had to practice farming and animal husbandry to experience the milk and honey in Canaan
And God still expects all nations to do that
Christianity is not irrelevant in the new century.
The value of Christianity in countries of the world should be in the quality of relationships that Christians live out and how they work to add value to their countries.