There are so many churches in Africa, yet we’re not seeing the positive impact on African society that usually accompanies Christianity. What’s going wrong?
Instead of the wrong aspects of our culture ruining the Church, the principles of scripture should reform our culture.
“The African Church must be challenged to impact it’s society. That’s God’s call upon our lives: sound doctrine; leaders that live out that sound doctrine; messages that bring out the ethical implications of it; insisting on Christians being fruitful out there in the world, being zealous for good works and accepting no excuse because the grace of God is sufficient for all of us.”
African Christianity’s Impact on African Society: Timestamps
00:20 – Titus 1:10-16
01:51 – The Challenges Posed By African Culture
03:35 – The Challenge of How To Do Church in Africa
05:45 – The Church’s Historical Impact on Societies
08:22 — Literacy Levels
09:00 — Identity & Human Rights
09:35 — Stewardship & Relationships
11:05 — Societal Structures & Reforms
12:25 – The Different Story in African Society
15:45 – Culture Can Hold A People Back
18:45 — The Challenge of ‘African Time’
22:00 — The Challenge of Ultra-Respectfulness
23:35 — The Challenge of Syncretism & Fatalism
28:29 — The Challenge of Community Allegiance
29:40 — The Challenge of Staying Away From Home
33:27 – Reversing The Flow of Influence
37:34 — Churches Filled With Sound Doctrine
41:12 — Leaders Who Model Biblical Living
45:44 — Gospel Truth Applied To Actual Life
48:55 – We Must Work For The Good of The World
“Instead of the wrong aspects of our culture ruining the Church, the principles of scripture should reform our culture.”
“God, in reconciling humanity to himself, demands a certain lifestyle from all of us.”
“Wherever God has placed you, live in such a way that by the time you die, people will bless God that you lived.”
Other Videos On This Topic
Text: Titus 1:10-16
Date preached: 6 January 2009
Location: Grace Ministers Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa
This is the third and last session and I just want us to read together from Titus 1:10-16.
“For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 Even one of their own prophets has said: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.
I’ll end the reading there.
The Challenges Posed By African Culture
We’ve been looking together at the subject of the Church and the challenge of African culture – or putting it a little differently – the challenge of African culture upon the Christian Church today. In other words, we are not simply looking at culture generally. We are not simply looking at African culture generally. We are basically saying, as a Christian Church at the commencement of the 21st Century, face to face with the context in which we are largely called to serve – which is the African continent – and consequently the culture that is there, what are the challenges that are there before us that we ought to rise to so that that Lord Jesus Christ does not condemn us for being irrelevant to a world in which we are. But instead, commends us for having, like fish in water, swum very well in the midst of it to our desired goal.
What are the challenges that are there before us that we ought to rise to?
How are we to meet this challenge?
As I said to you, we’ve looked at three areas. The first two we’ve already dealt with, and that is in terms of our evangelistic and missions mandate. We saw some of the challenges; some of the things we need to do in terms of changing our entire approach, so that we would be able to minister appropriately within the context of African culture.
The Challenge of How To Do Church in Africa
In the last session, we went on to look at the area of church life: fellowship, worship, formative and restorative discipline, and so on. Again, we saw the kind of challenges which are there, and some of the ways in which we can be relevant to that situation in terms of turning the tide round. So that we do not allow ourselves to see a situation where an exploited and extreme form of degeneration of African culture ends up completely marring the image of the church as it ought to be after the New Testament pattern.
We need to safeguard God-centredness in all things.
We spoke about the need for us to safeguard God-centredness in all things. So that even where we beg to differ, it is primarily because we can still see a sincere God-centredness, informed God-centredness for that matter.
Then we also saw the need for cultural integration. Where, of course, it is possible. So that where the New Testament Church is, it is a reflection of the believers around – rather than the fact that we have separated ourselves simply because of our own backgrounds. And consequently, one group is not benefitting from the other and vice versa.
And basically what I have been doing is taking us to passages of scripture, not because they are primarily dealing directly with that subject, but because they have principles that I think are relevant to the question that we are dealing with.
The Church’s Historical Impact on The World
In this third and last installment, I want us to deal with the whole area of the Church’s impact on the world.
Jesus said to his disciples that, “You are the salt of the earth”, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). In other words, when people come to Christ, they are not to think of themselves simply as individuals who have escaped hell and are now going to heaven. They are also to recognise the fact that they’ve got a great responsibility in God’s world. That they are to be salt there, that they are to be light there. In other words, they are to have an impact upon the fallen world. An impact for good! God-glorifying goodness.
You are the light of the world.
Now, I am very concerned, and I hope you are as well, by the failure of the African Church to impact its community; its society. Because, that’s not true to history generally speaking.
Christianity Has A Positive Effect on Societies
Christianity has been the vanguard of civilisation across history. It has often found people lying in darkness – to borrow the Isaiah phrase. People who are in darkness seeing a marvellous light (Isaiah 9:2). It’s found people chained to all forms of superstitions, poverty of all kinds. But as men and women have been converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, as they have come into the Christian Church and been exposed to the faithful, regular exposition of God’s word, something has began to happen in them and through them it has affected their society.
For one, they have developed a desire to read the Bible for themselves. As a result of that, even though uneducated, they have given themselves to learn the basic principles of literacy. They have taught themselves to read. Not primarily because they wanted to have high posts in their society, but simply because they recognised that here was a book that could transform them and consequently through them transform others.
Identity & Human Rights
And as they have began to read the Bible, they’ve began to learn who they are in God’s world. That it is not that image that they have inherited from their forefathers. It is not that image that they have received from their oppressors. They are made in the image of God and consequently there are certain attributes that ought to be true about them.
They also learn that this world is their Father’s world. And consequently they have a responsibility over it. They are to take care of it. They are to manage it. They are to, as it were, exploit all its potential in order to develop it – from being a garden into it being a city of God’s own habitation with his people.
That has automatically changed a lot of things about them! It has changed they way they have looked at themselves. It has changed the whole aspect of the way they relate as husband and wife. It has changed the way in which they have begun to look at their children, the raising of their children, as far as turning them to autonomous, responsible citizens of society. It has changed the way in which they have viewed their own society; their own environment. And consequently issues of health and hygiene have come to the fore.
Issues of how to take care of God’s world have also become all-important to them. Their entire approach with respect to work and dealing with issues of authority: local authority, state authority. Relationship with respect to those who are kings and governors and so on. Everything has begun to fall into place. And you can well imagine, therefore, the change that has happened in their entire society! It’s not simply within the four walls of the Church. No! There has been a spillover that has taken place in the world around.
And this is why, across history, the growth of education, the improvement of social and health provisions, the reform of local and state government, the pursuit for civil liberties, human rights and women’s rights and children’s rights and even scientific discoveries, have come at the very heels of the Christian faith being planted in society.
But when we come to Africa, the story tends to be different.
A Different Story in Africa
Christianity has been in Africa for a fairly long time. Certainly well over a century. In the northern part of Africa, as you know, it was in Bible-times – but South of the Sahara it was a little later on. And yet we have so many churches and yet very little moral, spiritual and intellectual impact on our society.
We have so many churches, yet very little moral, spiritual and intellectual impact on our society.
I think of a country like Nigeria for instance – I’m sure in South Africa you do have a few Nigerian churches. We do have them in Zambia. And yet at the same time it is listed as one of the most corrupt nations in the world! How can this be? That with so many churches, with so many – I say this with tongue in cheek – ‘apostles‘, you should still have a community, a society, an entire nation where levels of corruption, immorality, crime, poverty, HIV/Aids are still on the increase?
What’s Going Wrong?
That’s the question I want us to answer today. Because it’s a real challenge to us as the Christian Church. We need to ask ourselves the question, what’s wrong? Where are we going wrong? What is it that has happened elsewhere that we are failing to achieve on our own African soil?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that the West is better.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that the West is better. However, we need to at least acknowledge this: that in the West, they rejected Christianity first and the situation turned out into a downward spiral. Whereas in Africa we have the Christian faith sitting comfortably side by side with levels of corruption and crime and immorality that the Bible clearly denounces and condemns. And it’s that point that ought to cause us a lot of thinking.
How can we explain this? And what should we do in order to respond to this challenge?
Culture Can Hold A People Back
Let me begin in taking you to this passage of scripture before us to draw some lessons from there. By saying that cultures tend to take on a certain life form that can with a little thinking be reduced to a few phrases. And often that life form can be the very chain that holds back a people from progressing into a kind of society that God wants us to be.
And so, when we come to this passage of scripture that we just read, the Apostle Paul was able to quote a certain Cretan poet who described his own people in Titus 1:12 as, “Always liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons”. The Apostle Paul even goes on to say, “This testimony is true”. In other words, Titus, you are labouring among a people who are actually like that.
The fruit of our ministry must produce a different people all together.
But as we will be going on to see in a few minutes, what he is saying to Titus is that the fruit of his ministry must produce a different people all together. A people who cannot be described in the words in which their own community is described. But in fact a people that will be determined to so change their community that it will be different.
Now clearly, a people that can be described as, “Always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”, do you honestly expect progress from such a people? Of course not. They will always be at the most basic level of human life and living. In a constant cycle of frustration. Because of these same characteristics that are true of them!
We can say that to some extent about ourselves in a number of ways.
How African Culture Holds Africa Back
One of them is what we often refer to as the proverbial African time. It obviously militates against our development as a people. Obviously!
The Challenge of ‘African Time’
I recall not many years ago being invited to preach at a church somewhere. It wasn’t in the village. It was one of the townships, but back home in Zambia. And when it was getting rather close to the time we were supposed to leave for church, I mean I was pretty anxious. I came rushing out of the bedroom with my Bible and everything and found everybody in the home rather relaxed, pastor included. In fact, he wasn’t even dressed for church by that time. And that really worried me. I asked him whether I had misunderstood the time. “Did you say that church would begin at such and such a time?” He said, “Yes, but don’t worry”, he said. “Don’t worry”. And sure enough we were still at his home one hour after the time we should have started church.
Finally that’s about the time that we left and went off to church.
The natural tendency is that our culture out there will become the culture of the Church.
And when we got there, we were among the first ones to arrive. Now obviously there’s something wrong with that. And even when other people were coming, there was no sign that they were late, no! You’d have thought they were simply taking a stroll as lovers at the cool of the day. But it was well, well passed starting time!
Clearly, it’s an issue that we need to address. Because when you go through the Bible, you’ll see a God who says, “At just the right time”. It’s always a God who keeps his own schedules. And the implication on us must be obvious. And one can develop those arguments further.
You see, the natural tendency is that our culture out there if not seriously addressed, confronted, clashed with – to borrow some of the phrases we’ve been hearing here – will soon become the culture of the Church. With all their wrong tendencies. I’ve got a few here that I have already touched on. But they are worth touching on again.
The Challenge of Ultra-Respectfulness
You recall that I’ve already referred to the African culture being very respectful. And hence the chief of the African culture is now the ‘Superpastor’ phenomenon, so that we fight over titles.
The ‘Superpastor’ phenomenon sees us fighting over titles!
I recall being in a situation once where one lady referred to someone whom I would have also thought was a pastor as “pastor” and he got mad. He literally lost his temper! And said, “How dare you call me pastor? I’m Reverend!” And he was sincere. He was angry. He felt humiliated. And so, this poor lady was, after apologising sincerely to this man, went on and then came to me and said, “Pastor… Oops! Sorry! What’s your title?” And I could see fear written all over her. And you know what I’m talking about. And it’s not just in terms of titles. It’s the air around the ‘man of God’ so to speak. Becoming that which is only akin to a state president.
The Challenge of Syncretism
Then of course there are issues of syncretism. Which, if not addressed, will inevitably enter into the Christian lives in a big way. In such a way that the worship of God will be sitting comfortably with reverence for ancestral spirits.
The worship of God is comfortably with reverence for ancestral spirits!
And it happens, we know it! Where Christians, sometimes even pastors, will come from conducting worship in the morning and spend the evening appeasing ancestral spirits. Because that’s just the way of life and it’s not something that has really, really been challenged. It’s what’s happening out there in the world. And consequently, even those who become Christians simply continue the same way.
The Challenge of Fatalism
Closely tied up with this is our sense of fatalism. Although an African will speak about God, he is generally speaking about a God who is far away. Somewhere between God and himself will be the angels (super-beings). And somewhere between the angels and himself will be the ancestors who’ve gone on ahead of him.
And so, they provide the protection we need because they’ve been here, they’ve lived in our shoes, and now by going into the after world they have taken on more powers. If we can be in good books with them, we should be alright on this end. So, instead of doing all we can to improve hygiene, and health, and safety, and security, we tend to be content with the assurance that if we’re in good books with the ancestral spirits all will be well.
We tend to be content with the assurance that if we’re in good books with the ancestral spirits all will be well.
And if we are not in good books with them then all will not be well. It doesn’t matter what we do! That inevitably has developed in the psyche of the community of African people a kind of, “Whatever will be will be”.
I was talking with some people over lunch that a lot of times when you see people in a bus and the bus is jumping traffic lights when they are red. And I often say to my wife, you can be sure that nobody in that bus has taken that driver to task. Because they’ve made it safely across. Until disaster happens, then they begin to speak about the carelessness of the driver.
Or, putting it differently, you find people at the back of an empty truck – terribly overloaded. All it needs is somebody to move in the wrong direction and a few people will fall off. But somehow the feeling is, “Well, if that happens then whoever it is who fell off must have been in bad books with the ancestral spirits you see. But if we’ve all done our homework, then we’ll still get to our final destiny alright”.
Now, I’m not just talking about unchurched people, I’m talking about Christians going for a Christian camp! Now it’s all just a way of life.
The Challenge of Community Allegiance
Also, I have referred to the strong sense of community in the African culture. Which in itself – I repeat – is fine. However, oftentimes allegiance to the community ends up making families, domestic situations, impossible to handle.
Men fail to rule their own homes: once an uncle has sent instructions, they must be obeyed. Hence Christian testimony in the society is watered down in the name of respect for the family and it really means the wider family or the extended family.
The Challenge of Staying Away From Home
But let me go further. Why do we as Africans fail to develop our immediate environment?
There are obviously many reasons, but I want to throw out one obvious one which I think I have seen in our own country and must be true here. And it’s that most Africans tend to have two homes. One is where they work and the other is where their ancestral land is. The result is often a failure to develop both. They have no sense of allegiance to develop the place of their temporal habitation. Because they are simply there to earn a living and leave.
The result there is obvious. It means they don’t really care about the bad roads across from their own front door, the overgrown grass, the heap of garbage that’s just a few meters away. “It’s other people that must handle this. Here I’m just for work and just this bit of shelter. Tomorrow I’ll leave and go where home really is”.
Even the so-called home is a place where they hardly stay because they work elsewhere.
Well, the problem with that is that even the so-called home is a place where they hardly stay because they work elsewhere. So, they go there briefly, meet friends and family and catch up with real community life. But again, they don’t invest into the development of that area because sooner rather than later they have to go back to the place where they earn their living. They are therefore largely spectators in both parts of their world.
Now what it does is that even in church life it becomes exactly the same. They will be there but they are largely spectators. They’re not thinking in terms of the implications of the gospel. The implications of biblical truth being applied as Christians in their immediate world. No, this is not our home. Our home is elsewhere. And I repeat, these are Christians.
When you ask them why are they not addressing that broken down sewer system, they’ll speak in terms of some government somewhere that will do this. There’s really no serious effort to take on our world today and deal with these issues. There’ll be obviously all kinds of reasons but I’ve just given you some ideas of what’s happening in the world, which is true in the church, because the flow is heading in that direction.
Reversing The Flow of Influence
Now, what Titus is all about is that the flow must be the other way round. Instead of the wrong aspects of our culture ruining the church, the principles of scripture should reform our culture. In other words, what we are learning in the church, we must be thinking in terms of the application of that outside the four walls of the church. Scripture should reform our culture.
Instead of the wrong aspects of our culture ruining the Church, the principles of scripture should reform our culture.
You see God, in reconciling humanity to himself, demands a certain lifestyle from all of us. And we shall soon be seeing some aspects of this in this book. That which goes against the grain of his moral law, the grain of his own mind as revealed in the scriptures, must change.
For instance, therefore, as the Apostle Paul speaks about these people who are “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”, you can immediately see as you go through this book, that he is saying it must be different with respect to the Christian Church.
Laziness must give way to hard work among the people of God. There should be an observable difference. This is what this book is all about. And therefore, if we are to learn some principles from here, there are a number that I want to draw attention to, that should – if they can be applied in the churches, through the churches, through the people of God – reformation will happen in our society, in our communities. Africa will be different.
A Zambian Pastor’s Testimony
Before I bring you to them, just a testimony.
Just two weeks ago I was with one of our former elders – he’s moved to another town for work. And he was saying to me that his employers trusted him so much. He was starting a totally new department and they said to him, “You find the people to work with you”, and so on. And he went out of his way to bring people who are genuinely Christians into that business. He doesn’t doubt their Christianity, but what he said to me is, he’s always catching them stealing. And when he confronts them with it, for instance one of them had been going away with rolls of toilet paper and so on out of the office, he says “Why are you doing this?” Well, here’s the mindset, “Well, it belongs to the company!”
So, it’s a complete detachment. “I just come here to work and off I go. Well, I’m not stealing from you!” And clearly it speaks about need for a mind shift. So that these Christians can see that stealing is stealing as long as you’re taking what isn’t yours with the owner’s permission. It doesn’t matter whether the owner is a company – it’s not yours!
So, What’s The Solution?
Well let’s quickly go through some principles.
Churches Filled With Sound Doctrine
The first is the need for our churches to be filled with sound doctrine: the truth of God’s word. In a sense I touched on it yesterday when I was talking about story telling becoming the order of the day in the Christian Church.
Truth producing godliness.
Look at the way the Apostle Paul puts it in the first few verses of Titus 1. “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness”. Truth producing godliness. Let’s go on, Titus 1:2: faith and knowledge resting… “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and in his appointed season”, there we have the issue of timing there, “he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour.”
When it comes to the issue of appointment of church leaders look at Titus 1:9. Rather, “He”, referring to a qualified elder, “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” He says at the beginning of Titus 2, “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine”. He’s talked about this sound doctrine and then he proceeds to talk about teaching that which is in line with that sound doctrine.
This is a non-negotiable. If our churches are not schools in which the word of God is properly taught in all the soundness of its content, forget about producing godly lives. Forget about having an impact on our society.
Now, I have listened to a lot of so-called sermons back home. I gave you one of them yesterday. That especially through the TV and radio, most of it is poison for the soul to say the least. A Christianity which is a far cry from that which is taught in the scriptures. As long as that remains the norm, let us forget about the Church affecting its environment; impacting its world. Let’s forget it. That’s the first.
Leaders Who Model Biblical Living
But here’s the second: it is being careful in choosing our church leaders. That those who are chosen to be leaders of the church must be individuals who have imbibed this truth into their beings. In other words, they themselves are living examples of what the Bible wants us to be.
The Apostle Paul deals with that in Titus 1. The very reason why by the time he left Crete he had not appointed elders was because up to that point there were none that were ready! So he left Titus to continue with the work until Titus could see men who show these qualifications in their lives: personal lives, domestic lives, and the reputation that they have in society. Then, and only then, should Titus appoint them the leadership of the church. We need to emphasise that in the African Church.
The fact that somebody is the most influential person in the township should not qualify him for church office.
The fact that somebody is the most influential person in the township should not qualify him for church office. It shouldn’t. Is he an example of godliness? Is he able to apply biblical norms to that little place over which he has authority called his home? Can we see it there? Can we see it in society as he applies the same wherever he has jurisdiction? Can we see it? If we can then yes, he may be qualified to come into church office.
Immoral Leaders Weaken Christianity’s Impact
I want to say compromise at that point has weakened the Church in terms of its impact in the community. In fact, it’s gotten to a point where pastors are afraid of preaching certain passages of the Bible because they will upset some of the leaders in the church who are clearly guilty – scandalously guilty – of those same things.
Pastors fear preaching certain passages lest they upset some church leaders who are scandalously guilty of those same things.
There was a time in Zambia when I was invited to preach at a church and I was asked to deal with the issue of sexual purity. And as I asked why the particular church leader who asked me to speak said, “Well, you know there a number of prominent people in this church who are guilty of serious immorality and it needs to be addressed.”
So, I asked, “Well then address it?”
“Oh no! If I do I will be in serious trouble. But you see if you come and you address it, they may think, ‘How did he know? It must be God who somehow revealed it to him!'”.
Well actually I refused to take up the offer. Because I think I was going to be legitimising something which is wrong. That person needed to deal with that issue in his church. Instead of trying to pretend that it’s the Holy Spirit who has told the preacher when you know it’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s you. Leadership.
Gospel Truth Applied To Actual Life
But then in the third place, it’s the application of these truths, the application of these truths. Back to Titus 2:1. It says, “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.”
You must insist on a lifestyle that dovetails into the kind of doctrine that you are teaching.
He’s teaching sound doctrine. But he’s saying, “Look, apart from that you must insist on a lifestyle that dovetails into the kind of doctrine that you are teaching”. Therefore, he gives examples there: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.”
Titus 2:9: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, and not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them”. That’s a verse I think that needs to be applied back home in Zambia in that example I gave! “But to show that they can be fully trusted”. And on, and on this passage goes.
Acting on The Ethical Implications of Sound Doctrine
The ethical implications of sound doctrine must also be taught. We must do that if we are going to transform the world out there. If our people are going to make society sit up and notice, we must insist that their lives show forth the doctrine that they are learning.
Now, one of the areas of application is the whole area of good works, good deeds. In other words, going out of our way to implement in our society something of the image of God who alone is good. And you can’t miss it.
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good.
A few verses that clearly bring it out. Look very quickly at Titus 2:14 it speaks about Jesus, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager”, zealous! “To do what is good.”
Titus 3:1: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”
You find the same in Titus 3:8: “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
And finally Titus 3:14: “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.”
Working For The Good of The World
That’s one aspect of the ethical implications of sound doctrine. As Jesus said, “My Father is always at work and I am working also. For the good of his world”. Oh, that we would burn these truths into our beings, into the beings of our people. That wherever God has placed you, live in such a way that by the time you die, the people will bless God that you lived. They will see the difference that a godly man, a godly woman lived here! Look at the changes that have brought about in our lives because of him, because of her.
Wherever God has placed you, live in such a way that by the time you die, people will bless God that you lived.
Instead of simply sitting under a tree waiting for someone to come and either give them some handouts or give them something to do, yawning away all the time. That’s not the Christianity of the Bible.
Sometimes you go to homes where you find the grass outside is this high. You go into the house, you find able bodies, individuals, watching TV or playing playstation or something. I say that’s not Christianity. There’s something desperately wrong with that. Time is one of those treasures we will have to give an account of before God. We will. We must exploit it to the fullest.
Finally, one more area, and it is this: we must not accept excuses from anybody, because the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. And this “all” does not mean everyone, but it means all kinds of men. In other words, old men, old women, young men, young women, slaves, free, all kids of men. There’s no excuse for anybody to fail to apply the Christian faith in his part of the world. That’s what it means by that.
There’s no excuse for anybody to fail to apply the Christian faith in his part of the world.
That grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
This business of people saying, ‘Ah, after all, you know, us, we’re Africans”, as a way to say because you’re an African you are excused, no! The grace of God has appeared to Africans as well. We too must rise to the occasion! Take our Bibles seriously, apply them in our world! Devote ourselves to carrying out the great mandate of scripture and turn our world around.
Brethren, until this is done, we’ll multiply churches but our world, our community, our nation, our societies will continue in a downward spiral. And in the end, God will be very displeased with us.
As I close, therefore, three quick summaries.
Remember, Biblical Evangelism Is Where It Starts
Remember where we started. The challenge posed to the African Church by the African culture in the 21st century is first of all to drive us back to biblical evangelism. An evangelism that is culturally conscious – knowing the kind of people to whom we are going – that remains faithful to the gospel as it is in the scriptures. Applying repentance to those areas where our people need to repent and at the same time calling them to a gracious God in the person of Jesus Christ. We must do that.
Without biblical evangelism, we’ll fill our churches with goats. Nothing will come out of it.
Let’s not forget the gospel. Without biblical evangelism, we’ll fill our churches with goats. Nothing will come out of it.
Remember, Culture Is A Blind Spot
The second thing we’ve learnt is the fact that though within the context of our church part of our problem is the many gods, we also have situations where we do have sincere brethren who just don’t know any better. Remember I said culture is a blind spot? You need somebody from outside that culture, or you yourself to go outside your culture, before you begin to notice that some things do need change.
we need to learn to accept one another where there is God-centred Christianity.
And as I said, we need in the meantime to learn to accept one another where there is God-centred Christianity. But we also need to do what we can to cross-pollinate: to earn the right to be heard by paying the price of getting into that culture. Holding back some of our own cultural elements for the sake of being able to give a glass of cold water and a person will not reject it because of the hand holding the glass.
God’s Call Upon Our Lives
And then, as we have seen today, the Church must be challenged to impact its society. That’s God’s call upon our lives. Sound doctrine. Leaders that live out that sound doctrine. Messages that bring out the ethical implications of it. Insisting on Christians being fruitful out there in the world. Being zealous for good works and accepting no excuse because the grace of God is sufficient for all of us.
The Church must be challenged to impact its society.
Let us pray.
Eternal and gracious God, our hearts are filled with shame. Because despite the many churches in our countries, in our cities, in our townships, clearly we are not having the impact you want us to have. Instead, it is the empty ways of our forefathers that have been smuggled into our church ranks.
Oh father, help us. Help us to play our role aright so that we may go out there and make a difference to our world simply by living out the Christian life as it is painted, delineated, described in the scriptures.
Oh father, be merciful to us. Grant that through resolved preaching from the pulpit, the tide may turn and we may have a better Africa. An Africa that is simply once again carrying on the change that has happened elsewhere in the world across history as Christianity has been the vanguard of civilisation and everything good.
Oh, father help us to achieve this on this continent within our own African culture. For the glory of your name, Amen