Greetings in the name of our Lord Yeshua, who was, and is, and is to come.
I guess you could say that this is one of those articles that was written with Ghana's community of gospel adherents in mind. Nonetheless, I am quite sure that this piece will equally weigh on the conscience of non-Christians in Ghana. The subject of this piece can be summed up: “How Christian or Christlike are you?” I will therefore introduce a new term to Ghanaian vocabulary. This is of course, if it has not already been introduced to the local milieu. The term, kristometric.
Defined in its most basic sense, the adjective kristometic is the essence of its root words “kristo” and “metric”. The word kristo comes from the Greek, khristos, meaning anointed. The word khristos refers to the Jewish prophet and Messiah to mankind, Yeshua (Jesus Christ). The word metric is also of Greek origin. Its root, metron means measure and also gives us the Latin metricus. But enough with definitions for right now. The aim of this piece is to speak to the hearts (spirits) of all those church-going, halleluiah-singing, amen-shouting, “Nyame me do wo” – by now you've probably got a sense of my target audience – types in the Republic of Ghana and to cause you to consider carefully the measure of Christlikeness you currently portray in the scheme of what sometimes appears to be a sitcom that could very well be titled Sermon from the Republic of Ghana. So ladies and gentlemen, don't delay, the camera is rolling and the Almighty Director sometimes gets fed up with having to reshoot scenes. Everyone to their places! Lights, camera…action!
The State of the Nation, the State of the Individual and the State of the Church In the simplest terms, it can be said that a nation state is a collection of individuals and whatever knowledge or influences these individuals bring with them to construct what we call “national affairs”. Therefore, when a nation continues to repeat the same mistakes of its past, it is an indication that nationals of that nation are also continuing to repeat the same mistakes of the past at the individual level. I recently tried to explain this concept to a Nigerian brother in the things of God. He didn't seem very attentive, just bent on attaining to his own desires in life at any cost, with an unspoken “by all means necessary”. I guess history does repeat itself.
Throughout history, it has been proven that the spiritual health of a nation is clearly reflected from the state of the church (believers in Yeshua) in that nation. And so I shall make a logical deduction based on the former premise. I have chosen to state it in the form of a mathematical equation. If mathematics is not your forte, don't worry. At least you and some Ghanaian politicians share the same Achilles' heel. 'Tis a cause for the display of humility. I hope the politicians and preachers are listening. Corruption + Bribery + Ghana = Injustice in Ghana = Injustice in the Church in Ghana = Corruption + Bribery + the Church in Ghana. Don't you like the truth? It's so logical. Kind of like mathematics. The reciprocal of the previous equation is, Integrity + Justly Earned Wages + Ghana = Justice in Ghana = Justice in the Church in Ghana = Integrity + Justly Earned Wages + the Church in Ghana. Having engaged you to consider for a moment the variables associated with these “kristometric” equations, let us move on to further examine them in order to understand why Christians in Ghana are falling short of the “glory” or true nature of God.
The First Commandment Let me start by introducing to you the “first commandment” of Yeshua. It is written, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30, KJV).
The variables of the kristometric equations are based on four underlying factors derived from Yeshua's “first commandment”. I meant first, as in the greatest commandment. As this piece unfolds, I will make reference to each aspect of the human make up Yeshua commanded his followers to love God with. Since we are examining the Christian standard of Ghana, one must also engage in some self-examination in order to fully understand the state of the nation as a whole. After all, a nation is just a collection of individuals and the knowledge and influence these individuals bring with them to national affairs. Knowing the state of the hearts of Ghanaians (especially those in the church) will ultimately help us understand what is crippling the Ghanaian spirit.
Kristometry: The Discipline of Examining Your Christlikeness It is interesting that in handing down his commands, Yeshua never spoke to his disciples in less than absolute terms of obedience even though he fully recognised human weaknesses and inconsistencies in obeying his teachings. Despite this fact, Yeshua did not command his followers to do anything that was out of the ordinary by the grace of God. After all, Yeshua knew the experience of living in a human body and the influence the body has on the human spirit. When translated from the Hebrew into English, the term heart as used in Bible verses such as the statement to love God with all one's “heart”, most often refers to the human spirit. The Hebrew term from which we get heart is laybab – or part of man that knows. In order to examine the Christlikeness of an individual it makes sense to consider first and foremost what an individual knows or does not know about Christ's teachings. For example, Yeshua commanded his followers to love God with all their heart (or part of them that knows). The Apostle John expressed, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3, KVJ). If one really claims to love God, this love can be measured in terms of how well one keeps (or guards through obedience) His commands. But how can one keep God's commands if they do not know them? This is a major problem in the church in Ghana. The word of God was meant to be taught. So let me teach, knowing that it is written, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). If you teach or are in a position of authority, recognise that you will face more rebuke for anything done contrary to protocol. To Ghana's leaders, again, I hope you are listening. If you don't want rebuke then examine yourselves daily.
Corruption and Bribery Revisited I take this time to address corruption and bribery in the Republic of Ghana again – this time with less emphasis on kristometrics. Unknown to some Ghanaians is the fact that the Bible speaks against corrupt business practice and bribery. Now, given that the heart or spirit is the part of man that knows, then one can only obey any teachings on corrupt business practice and bribery in accordance with what they know. Abi, I dey lie? Didn't think so. So if you have never been clear on the matter of corrupt business practice, bribery and what the Bible says about these things, here is a proverb that can set the matter straight. It is written, “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor” (Proverbs 28:8). Usury refers to the practice of lending on interest. Unjust gain refers to any type of prosperity acquired through illegal or wrong methods. Anyone who applies either one or both of the previous methods as a means to prospering will lose what they have wrongly acquired to those who will not mistreat the poor but will rather render a godly level of justice in their dealings.
Throughout the Bible, the theme of corrupt business practice and bribery is portrayed as being filthy in the sight of God, and therefore in the sight of the Son of God, Yeshua. As far as Christians should be concerned, they should be setting the standards for ethical business practice, refusing to pay bribes as well as openly discouraging the payment of bribes. Amos 5:12 says, “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.” One can learn many things from the history of the nation of Israel as well as that of other nations. The context of the previous verse illustrates that God, who spoke to His nation by the prophet Amos considers bribery a sin or breaking of his law. He also hates false balances: one law for the poor and one for the rich.
Having dealt with basic theory, let us proceed to make application of what we have learned. If corrupt business practice and bribery is wrong in the sight of God, the question needs to be posed: Why do Ghanaians, even many within the supposedly moral corridors of society readily pay bribes? Why do some Ghanaian parents openly teach their children to pay bribes by paying bribes, thus setting a bad example and by communicating to their children using rhetoric like, “it is the only way that you can get anything done in Ghana?” Also, why do ministers of state, soldiers and other civil servants demand bribes in Ghana? Lastly, why do Ghanaians permit foreigners to get away with paying bribes in their country? These are questions that Ghana's elders must answer. But let me give you my take on the answers to these questions. After all, I am the writer ooooooo!
1. Why do Ghanaians, even many within the supposedly moral corridors of society readily pay bribes? Answer: Fear and apathy. 2. Why do some Ghanaian parents openly teach their children to pay bribes by paying bribes and by communicating to their children using rhetoric like, “it is the only way that you can get anything done in Ghana?” Answer: A seared conscience, selfishness and fear. 3. Also, why do ministers of state, soldiers and other civil servants demand bribes in Ghana? Answer: Obviously they are not qualified to hold these positions. 4. Lastly, why do Ghanaians permit foreigners to get away with paying bribes in their country? Answer: Nugormemase. This is Evhe (Ewe) for “no understanding”.
Ladies and gentlemen, beloved children of Ghana and all the others that count, let me take this time to point out that parents CANNOT teach what they do not know. As for preaching what they do not practice, we'll save that one for another day, perhaps the Sermon on Mount Afadzato. Bribery, whether it be asking for it or paying it, is wrong! To the many Ghanaian parents who week after week and year after year wield their Bibles and march to their local church assemblies, church conventions, all night prayer meetings etcetera after paying bribes to put your children through some school that they didn't necessarily have to go to, I've got a message for you today. Guess what? You are a HYPOCRITE! No, not hippopotamus, HYPOCRITE. Now I know that stings unless of course your conscience is seared. Also, yes, I know it went deep into your spirit and may even have reminded you of one of Azumah's many bouts in the ring. But I assure you that my aim was not to knock you out. Push you into the corner yes, but not to knock you out. Kpo ha bo! Just kidding J.
Again why do some resident Ghanaians ask for them and why do others pay bribes? Here are some observations. The one who asks for a bribe operates under a false belief about themselves and about the one from whom they demand a bribe. He or she who demands a bribe falsely believes that they have the right and power to do so. During the growth period of the current youth generation, a message must be sent to every Ghanaian worker – your level of prosperity is your personal responsibility! The laws of prosperity that govern the universe are there for every Enyo, Nana and Rashidi to accept or reject. To be more exact in my communication, a meagre salary does not give you any justification whatsoever to demand or even expect a bribe from anyone. To the Christian or Christlike individual in Ghana, consider carefully that your King and saviour did not pay bribes. In fact, it is written, “The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). Everything that exists in the material and spiritual realm is under the King's authority. Therefore, he or she who demands or pays a bribe is also under the King's authority. The next time any public servant requests a bribe from you, consider carefully that you are the King's advocate, that you have access to the King through prayer and that the King hates bribes. These things should remind you that you have the mandate to hand over a lawbreaker to the King for judgement. He or she who demands a bribe is a lawbreaker no matter what degree title, professional designation or political rank they hold. God is no respecter of persons!
Other reasons why some ask for and others pay bribes are the greed and fear factors respectively. Greed reflects an individual's emotional state and that they have not matured to the point of recognising that one can only truly enjoy that which they have honestly worked for. A greedy person does not know how to control their passion for the acquisition of material things. This unbridled passion for material possessions is to the point where they will do anything to gratify material desires. This is the fool's prosperity the Bible speaks of. A fool is defined as a morally deficient person. And a fool's prosperity does not last. This type of prosperity is fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow. When an individual in a position of authority demands or accepts a bribe, it is an indication that they DO NOT qualify to hold that position. In effect, their actions qualify them as a fool – CAPITAL F. If we are to look critically at the Republic of Ghana's government ministries, we might have to consider training Junior Secondary School (JSS) students to oversee public institutions. Outrageous you say? I shall therefore say more. By putting these JSS students over national institutions there may be more success in teaching these JSS students the value of integrity in comparison to 50-year-olds who despite longevity have obviously not learned much – just show me your level of temperance and I will show you how mature you are.
Coming back to the issue of why some pay bribes, let us recall that some do it because they are afraid to do otherwise. Obviously, cowardice and the Ghanaian – males in particular – have developed a symbiotic relationship and seem to be in a state of homeostasis. Norviwo (brothers and sisters), let's take a lesson from history. Before European occupation of Africa, manhood training was mandatory and more widespread in many African societies. As they came of age, young men were marched to the bush and given opportunities to prove whether they were worth the calico between their legs. Well, I guess our ancestors might advise that we reinstitute manhood training – yes, I meant the women too – to cure the nation from the cowardice that has engulfed it. Yes, we could march every Ghanaian 15-year-old into Dodowa's thick forest and present them with two options: be disowned by your parents or pay a bribe. It would be interesting to see how many would choose to pay the bribe. Again, you may think “outrageous!”, but consider that Yeshua's exact words in this context were that he did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matthew 10:35). Clearly, this is a spiritual revolution we are yet to witness in the land of the black star. And so corruption and bribery continues because of fear.
The state of any nation reflects the state of the church in that nation. Yeshua the saviour of mankind made it clear to Israel that they should love God with all and not some of their hearts. Christians are called to do the same. To say that one loves God is to say that one obeys His commands. Knowing God's commands and disobeying them constitute hatred of your creator no matter how many church sermons you attend. So how much do YOU love God? When was the last time you REFUSED to pay a bribe in obedience to your God? When was the last time you DEMANDED a bribe contrary to the teachings of Yeshua? When was the last time you PAID a bribe because you were afraid? I've done my homework by ensuring that I balance my kristometric equations. What about you?
To be continued in Kristometrics – A Challenge to the Ghanaian Christian (Part 2)
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