By Dr. Stanislaus Steyn Paridzirai Matindike
In Part II of this article, we gave examples of corruptive behaviour in the Church, government and community. The examples were a reflection of the chirigo practice emerging in different situations. In Zimbabwe today chirigo is becoming a culturally justifiable offered fee or fee on request for any transaction between two or more parties. The practice is emerging in contrast with the spirit of the Ten Commandments and the laws on commercial and social welfare undertakings between any parties.
In the current third part of the article, I am attempting to reflect on the chirigo concept in the context of the Christian message according to St. Paul:
You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian or Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ; he is everything and he is in everything, (Colossians 3: 9-11).
According to St. Paul, adopting the image of Christ removes all forms of discrimination such as race, colour and belief. Humankind is all one in terms of humility, love, empathy. Human acquisitions such as education, social rank (in Church and secular settings) and wealth debase people who abandon the value of the human soul so precious in the eyes of Christ. Titles are confused with human worth and dignity defined in terms of the human soul coming from God. Interacting amongst people should be an expression of human love to God. Christ’s love for humanity knows no race, region, colour, social status defined by level of education, economic achievement or physical power. The twelve apostles had to adopt values and practices symbolized in Christ’s way of life. The first Christians, the apostles, had to spread the values and practices to those interested in Christ’s way of life. Christianity was extended to all people and nations through the evangelization process, a process expected to trounce cultural values and practices failing to put Christ at the centre of one’s life in thought and action. Evangelization became a missionary activity among all nations through the three missionary journeys of St. Paul among non- Jews or Gentiles. Consequently, the evangelization process became “catholic” (a word derived from a Greek word translated as “general”, or “universal” or “world-wide”) with Rome as the centre for coordinating Christianity with the aid of the Bishop of Rome (the capital of the Roman Empire). A norm of situating the chair of a bishop in the capital of an administrative capital of a civil province up to now.
By the fifth century, Rome had assumed the role of the centre of Christianity for the rest of the Christendom. The following words to the Bishops of Africa by Pope Innocent (401-417) reflect the assumption of the Bishop of Rome:
We approve your action in following the principle that nothing which was done even in the most remote and distant provinces should be taken as finally settled unless it came to the notice of this See, that any just pronouncement might be confirmed by all the authority of this See, and that the other churches might from thence gather what they should teach.
The central form of organizing the church seems to be common in all church denominations. It has become a specified line of communication up to today. In the Roman Catholic Church, the See or Pope (Bishop of Rome assuming the role of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the world) remains the top of the Church. The copycats of the Roman Catholic Church are denominations with similar organizational structures whose heads may be bishops, archbishops or any other titles conveniently chosen. The head of each church denomination teaches/instructs and guides the Church structure in accordance with their statutes and tradition presumably based on the teachings of Christ or the Holy Spirit. Each church denomination also has its rules and regulations administered at the applicable levels of the church organization under a leader at the top. Members of different church denominations are made to believe that each leadership represents Christ in thought and deed for the benefit of the faithful, the beneficiaries of Christ’s love to the world. With the proliferation of churches today, the belief has become highly debatable and nonsensical in some proven circumstances.
The implication of the ideas analysed above is a challenge to the belief that governments are the only institutions responsible for upholding national constitutions and human rights without regard to church beliefs. The love of Christ should be at the centre of human values and practice promoting equality and equity enshrined in the biblical teachings, instructions and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Through spiritual intuition and inspiration, the church leadership should be empowered to keep on enlightening the faithful on the best practices that promote human dignity, unselfish love and equitable distribution of goods and services. True believers should get closer and closer to Jesus Christ as children of God. Christ instructed the apostles that whoever wants to be great must be a servant. Thus our leaders should not forget that they are the people’s servants and must be accountable to them in whatever they do.