God in the Public Square

The government appointed Committee of Experts has been announced. After reviewing previous Constitutional Review Commissions the Technical Committee will make recommendations to be included in the new Zambian Constitution. Evangelicals have been effectively sidelined. Without an official representative on the Committee they have no one to lobby to have their voice heard. How can evangelicals in a “Christian Nation” be excluded from a Committee like this? Are Zambian evangelicals incapable of representing God in the public square?

Before we blame the government for this omission we need to take a serious look at ourselves. Have we represented our views of God in the public square in a united and clear fashion? After all, the government has often requested representation from evangelicals on important issues. Have we made relevant and thoughtful contributions when asked? If so, should we not be stunned by our exclusion? In keeping with biblical rites should we not tear our clothes and put dust on our heads, and fall on our faces before the Lord and pray till evening (Joshua 7:6-9)? Are we afraid that if we pleaded to the Lord He might respond by saying, “Stand up! Deal with issues in your camp that have made you irrelevant and insignificant in the public square?”

If evangelical Christians are the majority, then we do not need to be overly troubled by exclusion on the Technical Committee. The government should take notice when we do things right and whether we are present or not, His law will be included.  It is the church’s charge to go into the world and “turn it upside down.”  In Paul’s time, the church was in the minority. The population took notice of Christian’s unswerving dedication to the teaching of Christ. Supreme homage and total obedience was given only to Christ, the rightful owner. Submitting to Jesus as Lord and King is a political statement. Christianity insists that God is the source of justice and righteousness. When His law is omitted from the public square Christians still follow His law as revealed in the Bible.

Representing God in the public square is a great challenge for any who profess Jesus as Lord. It is particularly challenging for evangelical Christians in cultural centres of power. Social problems like HIV and AIDS, unemployment, orphans and vulnerable children and corruption can be attributed, in part, to the inaction of Christians with political power. Do you not act because you do not care or because you do not know? I think it is often times the latter. The church needs more teaching on the practical implications of God’s Word related to the public square. We need to equip Christians with fundamental beliefs to penetrate every level of society. While the State House is not the vehicle for advancing the church, Christians need to be prepared for thoughtful engagement on issues related to justice and righteousness when asked to contribute. Ultimately, as we represent God to our communities let us remember that ‘the battle is not ours but the Lords.’

Lawrence Temfwe