The people of God have always faced opposition both internally and externally. Christ assured the disciples that challenges of all sorts will follow them because of their decision to follow Him. And throughout her history, the church of Christ has faced and fought battles of all kinds, and that is the status quo today. Though there is nothing new under the sun, dynamics change from time to time, and it is therefore a healthy practice to take stock of the dangers that are with us now and those that are on the horizon. I am not a prophet neither am I a son of one, but I see four (among many) challenges that the church in Zambia should be prepared to face.
A love for the world in the church
The first challenge is an internal one. Believers have always battled with the love of the world, however I sense a different kind of worldliness within the church that seems to be creeping in at an alarming rate. The worldliness I am talking about has come as a result of what may be termed “a revolt against the traditional positions of mainline Christianity.” Some of these positions are regulations that the church has espoused and talked about (strongly) that are not necessarily the teachings of Scripture but the convictions and preferences of men (issues like music, drinking, tattoos, worship styles, etc.). So as most believers (particularly the younger believers) have become enlightened about what Scripture actually teaches, they have reacted by choosing to be the opposite of mainline Christianity and the end result has been a daring worldliness. The church has to begin to have honest conversations about some of these issues and be willing to admit what the Bible actually teaches without conceding the fight against sin. The moment the church becomes worldly is the moment it loses its testimony and witness to the world.
Charismatic teachings and practices
When an average Zambian hears the term pastor, they often think of charismatic preachers: self-exaltation, fancy (often colorful) dressing, dream explainer, tongue speaking, motivational speaker, miracle worker, demon slayer and lover of money. Gone are the days when pastors are merely viewed as teachers and preachers of the Word of God. The charismatic movement is a cancer in our country, and its teachings and practices must be aggressively exposed and uprooted before they eat up the entire church! These practices include: deliverance services, altar calls, the viewing of pastors as mediators between God and man, hierarchy of offices not taught or practiced in the Bible, the making of pastor’s wives into assistant pastors, Christ-less gospel and sermons, worship services designed to entertain, unity that ignores and compromises the truth of Scripture etc. What makes the charismatic movement appealing in Africa is that it resonates with our African worldview. This is a challenge that should not be faced head on. If there was ever a need for faithful preachers of the Word of God, now is the time.
A rise in atheistic thinking
While there not many atheists in our country compared to other countries, the number is rising. Atheistic thinking is more common than we care to admit. The number of people that deny the existence of God either in word or deed is alarming. Popular motivational speaking for instance is largely based on evolutional thinking. Man is no longer a created being who is totally sinful, but someone who is inherently good who just happens to be in the wrong place with the wrong people. Another result of atheistic thinking has been the battle of the races and sexes. White supremacy and male supremacy has led to a reaction where you have blacks and females pushing for their own supremacy. Atheistic thinking is becoming very popular among young adult college students because it is viewed as progressive and intelligent. In light of this danger of church cannot afford not to be clear about matters of origin and the implications of the gospel in peoples lives.
A denial of the sufficiency of Scripture
Most people believe the Bible is the Word of God, and it is good and helpful for your spiritual wellbeing. However, not many people believe the Scriptures are sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). As a result, the truths of Scripture are constantly under attack especially in the recent times when the Bible is generally viewed as out of date. It is therefore not uncommon to find people who are committed to church and do not apply or even think about what the Scripture says about an issue. This is often reflected in marriage, family, births, funerals, education, entertainment, work and business and our involvement in politics. For most people the Bible is for Bible studies and preaching sermons and not for “actual” life. The church cannot afford to be wishy washy about this issue. Now is the time for preachers to raise their voices in proclaiming thus says the Lord!
These and many other challenges will batter the church from all angles. And the temptation to succumb will be great, and sadly many will fall along the way. However, now is the time for the church to take its stand and not waver from upholding the truths of Scripture; now is the time for courageous preachers who will preach the Word with boldness and clarity. Now is the time for Christian homes to unapologetically be biblical. Dear friends, against unnumbered foes, let courage rise with danger.