Transformed Citizen Participation…What Moves Us!

The African Forum on Religion and Government (AFReG) calls on all Christians to continue in prayers as a faith community dialoguing on “Africans Rising Together: A Transformed Community for the 21st Century.” Our third 2021 Webinar is entitled, “Transformed Citizen Participation…What Moves Us!”

God has placed us in the various contexts in which we find ourselves as residents and citizens for a purpose; to be the salt and light wherever we are found (Matthew 5:13-16). Bland, meaningless lives and darkness have become major features of many countries around the world. Injustice and corruption have become the order of the day in this sinful world. And then, for the last 18 plus months the world has been under the dark cloud of COVID-19. Citizens and residents of many nations seem helpless against the dark realities of our nations. Occasionally when the injustice seems overwhelming and the authorities do not seem to be doing much about righting the wrongs, citizens rise up, take to the streets and protest, as happened when George Floyd was unjustly murdered in May 2020 in Minnesota in the USA. Even in such times, there are many Christians who wonder whether it is our place to be found in the streets marching alongside those who are indignant about all the wrongs.

What role do Christians play in our nations as citizens and residents wherever God has placed us? Are we to stay silent when evil seems to be triumphing around us? Can we rise up and join mass protests? Do we need to organize our own protests? Is our participation in societal transformation limited to the “spiritual sphere” only? What can we as Christians do practically to show that indeed we are the salt of our nations and we are the light that God has placed in our nations? How can we overcome the tendency to hide under bushels the light we are called to be?

In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah called upon the people of God to rise up and rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:17). Today, we can receive the same call to rise up and build the broken walls of our nations – walls broken by sin, corruption, injustice, diseases including COVID-19, and conflicts. What moves us is this call comes to us who have, by God’s grace, been transformed. Once we have responded to the Lord God’s love demonstrated on Calvary’s Cross for us and have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, He transforms our lives to become transformed citizens. Our transformation is not an end in itself.

As we remain on this side of eternity, our transformation makes us salt and light in our nations. We cannot keep our transformed nature hidden. We are called to participate in our nations in ways that make a difference – in ways that bring transformation. Our participation as citizens can be God’s channel for turning our nations away from the evil that surrounds us into life-giving communities. Our Lord Jesus says that if our light shines, it will make people glorify God (Mathew 5:16). Our salt character and light character as we participate in transforming our communities will attract people to God. As more people are moved to God, our nations can be transformed and we will be able to overcome the darkness of injustice, corruption and diseases.

For this to happen, we need to play our roles as good citizens and good residents wherever God has placed us. Silence is not an option. Participation is the call. Even while in a foreign land, the people of Judah were urged to seek and work for the good of the land in which they were sent into exile (i.e. Babylon) (Jeremiah 29:7-11). There is no excuse for staying silent or being inactive when we need to rise up and build the nations in which we find ourselves as citizens or residents, even if it sometimes means being in the streets. We are transformed to be part of God’s transformation agenda. This means rising up to work against the evil and diseases that ail us, as well as the injustice and corruption that undermine us. There is no room for passivity. 

The Psalmist calls on the people of God to pray for the peace of our “Jerusalems” and to seek the good of our lands (Psalm 122). If evil, disease, corruption and injustice are eroding the peace of our nations, we need to pray and act. Our prayers lead to acting as good transformed citizens participating in actions that will transform our nations for good. The call still comes to us today. As good citizens let us rise up and rebuild.

Let us pray:

We thank you, O God, for placing us in various contexts as citizens and residents of our nations. We confess that very often we have been passive citizens who have not been faithful in participating in your work of using us as salt and light for transforming our communities. We ask for your forgiveness and that you renew us. Please tune our hearts, minds and attitudes to you, so that by the power of your Holy Spirit in us, we will be your instruments as good citizens wherever you have placed us.

Grant us the vision to see the brokenness in our nations and the power to respond with courage as the salt that brings a new taste and the light that dispels the darkness. We thank you that you stand with us through it all. We know that even as you send us to be effective transformed citizens participating in the renewing of our nations, you are going with us. We thank you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.