Recently, an argument erupted in a chat group I belong. Atheists challenged church-goers to explain why they stuck to a habit deemed harmful to themselves and the nation. Below is an expanded version of my contribution to the argument.
At 66 I regularly attend church. True, I stopped for years but now am back. Reasons?
- I realise every society on Earth is anchored on one or more faiths. Faith, therefore, serves a purpose. Otherwise, given the abundance of human intelligence, faithless societies would abound and prosper.
- My then 6-year-old daughter once asked: ‘baba lo mama, when are we going to see Jesus?’ I blinked and replied, ‘we don’t have to.’ She insisted. I sighed and shook my head. The following Sunday the whole family was at church. She enjoyed the company at Sunday school and found lifelong friends. My son enjoyed the sweets distributed and like his sister made lifelong friends.
- I’ve favourite Bible verses that guide me. These include: ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
- I’m fond of some parables and several hymns. At one time, things were not going well at work and every morning, I sang to myself the hymn – We Nhliziyo Yami. With passion, I sang the lines – Never stop fighting…Don’t throw down your weapons, Rely on them and you will conquer. One day I was surprised when a colleague I had thought to be one of my adversaries whispered to me, ‘we see how they are trying to break you down and admire the way you are fighting back. Man, you inspire us all!’
- Asserting that the non-scientific basis of religion is proof that the faith is a lie, is itself a deception. First, use your science to prove the non-existence of the Supreme Being before demanding that I prove His existence. In 1 above, I have already established humanity’s natural need for a faith.
- I’m aware that some brands of Christianity have kicked out the teachings of Jesus from the faith but still call it Christianity. They are wrong. Engagement with them may bring them back home and at the same time, they point out my shortcomings.
- All the faiths I know something about have the ultimate goal of improving the state of humanity as a whole. I, therefore, have no quarrels with other faiths but believe in my circumstances our goal can best be achieved under the banner of Christianity.
- I’m not perturbed by contradictions in the Bible because the books were written by ordinary people. As our elders say: ‘akusoka lingelasici – to err is human, to forgive, divine.’ Differences in the same story when told by different people will always be with us. Have you ever read identical reports of a football match, a rally or a debate when written by different reporters? Besides, contradictions are natural. No wonder in the Bible, Egypt is a place of bondage and later a place of refuge for the toddler Jesus and his family.
- Before rolling out the Ten Commandments, God, like a praise poet, introduces Himself as: ‘the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of bondage.’ So God is proud to be a liberator! Not surprisingly therefore, progressive leaders like Chief Albert Luthuli, Garfield Todd and Martin Luther King were practising Christians. Paul teaches, ‘in Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female for you are all one.’ The challenge to a Christian in my era is cut out – to be a liberator, to fight racism, tribalism, male chauvinism and all beliefs that belittle fellow human beings. I often fall short in my actions but at least I’m aware of what I’m supposed to do.
- Dear reader, if you’ve read this far, you too must have reasons why you regularly assemble with fellow believers or why you think you ought to be doing so. Come now, let’s hear the reasons!