Imagine that Jesus Christ were to return to earth and join the Kenyan presidential race. This is obviously a wild imagination as His promised second coming will be nothing like His first. He will not come to live under human systems, but rather as the all-powerful King of kings, to gather up those that He considers His people and declare a harsh judgment on those who are not.
During His life on earth some 2,000 years ago, Jesus displayed some attributes that made Him a political figure not to be taken lightly. He was articulate, bold and enjoyed engaging with intellectuals on issues of the day. He was very personable and connected well with ordinary people. He was a charismatic leader with the ability to mobilise crowds. Like many Kenyan politicians today, He attended funerals and weddings and held rallies and occasionally fed those who attended.
Jesus was an activist and a crusader for justice. He genuinely cared for those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. He was also concerned about the paucity of authentic leadership, often referring to the masses as “sheep without shepherds”. He was focused and often refused to be drawn into trivial sideshows.
On one occasion, He was confronted by a man who wanted Him to help resolve a family property dispute. He tactfully recused himself and then said to His followers, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:13-15). It was a loaded statement; that the unbridled pursuit of money as the all-important measure of success is unhealthy.
On another occasion, a young tycoon approached him and publicly declared that he wanted to join the Jesus movement. For the average Kenyan politician, a well-heeled investor with deep pockets joining the team would be celebrated.
Not so with Jesus. He engaged the young man to establish his motive and then delivered a bombshell. “Go and liquidate all your assets and give the proceeds to the poor,” Jesus told him. “Then come and follow me.” As the young donor walked away, sad, Jesus told His stunned followers that the fallacious value that people place on money is the reason that so many are lost. (Mathew 19:16-23)
Going by these two incidents alone, we can conclude that Jesus would not run a conventional presidential campaign in Kenya. His campaign would not involve expensive helicopters and cash handouts to churches. He would not solicit for campaign money from His followers, nor would he seek to strike deals with wealthy lobby groups. Jesus would likely present His simple message of hope and promise to “whosoever” would be willing to trust in His flawless integrity.
But politics is, ultimately, a game of numbers, and electoral success depends purely on one’s ability to garner votes. In Kenya, the tribe has traditionally served as the all-important starting point. If Jesus were in the race for the 2022 elections, he would probably reject the notion of being branded as a tribal kingpin. A logical base for Him would seem to be people of the Christian faith.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 85 per cent of Kenyans identify with Christianity. That is a huge constituency that would seem to guarantee Him front runner status. After all, these are His people who are called by His name. They go to church, pray, sing and do all manner of things in His name. But would they actually give him their votes? The answer is most probably NO.
Jesus, with His empty pockets and solemn message of hope would not stand a chance against the divisive campaigns fuelled by corruption and deception. Many would reject Him and sacrifice their votes at the altar of greed and short-sighted bigotry. As it was 2000 years ago, Jesus would most certainly be mocked and maybe even killed. It should not come as a surprise. He’s been there before, and He’s not coming back to repeat history. He is coming back, but that second coming will be on His own terms.