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    Friday, March 28, 2014

    Let's talk about the Nigerian church

    What we don’t speak against, we speak in favour of, and what we don’t act against, we act on behalf of. A man remains at the centre of evil if he speaks not to shatter the spine of evil. The four walls of the Nigerian church seem to be in romance with countless unwholesome activities.We speak to these ills not because it is a joy ride doing so, but because we understand that it is evil in itself when we maintain silent in the face of plethora perpetrations of wrongs.

    It is factual that the Nigerian church and the Nigerian society are conjoined twins with calcified conundrums.The list of atrocities perpetrated within the four walls of some of our churches is endless.Evil in church is evil everywhere around it, and we cannot neglect what is going on in church and expect sanity to take place in the society at large. If judgment will begin from the House of God, according to God’s word, it means that which is right and righteous must begin from it. The church’s enemies are within and they are blasphemers and betrayers of Christ in the pew and on the pulpit. “O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared” (Martin Luther).

    True men of God stand up to misdeeds, not promote them.  True men of God stand against what ails the society and lend a helping hand in the alleviation of it. True men of God are true and truthful and not harbingers of tell-tales and untruth. However, the behaviours of some men of God make them sound as if they are God who can do all things. There are some among us who think they are Deputy-God who will take over from God when He (God) dies.  Our God, however, is immortal. But I tell you, MEN OF GOD ARE NOT GOD OF MEN! They get hungry, and they get angry, they get broke, and they get the stroke. They get sick, and they get weak. They can be good, and they can be bad. They have tendencies to lie, and they also tell the truth, they have desires, and they do retire. They get sick and they do die from sickness, they pray prayers that God answers quickly, and they pray some that never receive an answer. Whether they fast 365 days a year, or blast in tongues for hours unending, MEN OF GOD ARE MEN FIRST, THEY CAN NEVER BE GOD OF MEN! Men of God must understand this.

    Some preachers have set the bars so high on purpose as if they are specially-packagedangelic beings who were not born of a woman, and who are not clay in the hands of the Potter.The whole drill is still around manipulation for money, power and control. This does not help the church’s image. A Man of God must come down his high-horse and ride with the rest of the world he serves. We can sit up high on the altar, we can have our big offices and cars, we can feel big, talk big and look big, but God Himself will make us small in His own time if we don’t act like Jesus who went as low as possible to cleanse dirty, ugly feet. Man of God is not a gift to the body of Christ if he does not reflect the Giver of gifts.

    I thank God for the big church, big congregation and big money; it is the prayer of many to attain that height too, and there is nothing wrong with the blessings. But how some of us flaunt the blessings and brandish the boisterous bling in the eyes of the bruised and the battered are what God abhors. What does a servant of God need bazooka and AK47-totting men for in church? What does a servant of God need a siren-blasting convoy and entourage for? What is the purpose? How do these things win souls into the kingdom of God?They are all irritants that keep men and women away from the Household of Faith.

    In the US for example, nearly one out of five young people age 18-22 now self-identify as atheists. Christianity now has the slowest growth among religions.Between 1990 and 2001, Christianity grew only seven per cent; Mormonism grew by 112 per cent, Humanism by 169 per cent, Buddhism grew by 270 per cent, and Hinduism 337 per cent. The Wiccan religion that celebrates witchcraft and wizardry became the fastest-growing at 1,675 per cent. Although our God is real, but the actions and or inactions of many of the practitioners of Christianity are turning people away from the God of heaven.

    The haughtiness and arrogant dispositions of some however inform why men hate the church and its shepherds. If some pastors carry the anointing of Jesus when he walked on water, they will advertise themselves as the Risen Redeemer. But God ensured that no man has ever walked on water except Peter for a few seconds. Even with blatant, in-your-face betrayal of Jesus by Judas, Jesus did not slap him; Judas slapped himself with suicide. With their mannerisms and manners, many pastors in Nigeria will be in trouble with the law if they run ministries in nations where their laws are not as loose as Nigeria’s.

    In the life of some pastors, many things are not real.Some put on fake spiritual “wigs” with a comb in hand as if the hair is real, but what is there to comb? Many put on spiritual “false-teeth” and then smile in the public as if the teeth are authentic.You can be a pastor and still be yourself. You cannot be a Jew in the church and be a gentile somewhere else.We are all humans with weaknesses, but I believe that the man of God should settle with God first in the areas of his weaknesses before he mounts the pulpit. Immediately we mount the podium, we become an open book for the world to read without our permission. If a Christian is broke, he should get a job not start a church and become a pastor.The church is neither a business nor a job; it is an adequately-rewarded assignment from God for human services. Many Christian workers and church members should understand that respect and reverence are accorded a man of God for God we see in them, not because of their jeeps and wealth.Because you are a sheep does not mean you should be sheepish. We should be very sensitive to scriptural interpretations that trumpet manipulations.

    Some great men and women of God in Nigeria are doing great works that we all see. There are some in our nation who have turned many lives of the needy and hopeless around, and many have taken up caring for widows in manners that make our hearts glad. There are men and women of God whose churches have put thousands of orphans through schools and impacted their lives forever. These are the ones we will always salute.

     Whatever I suggest here as a remedy next time I write will not be a one-size-fits-all. It will however jump-start a conversation that is long-overdue. This will be our focus in the concluding part of this write-up.My belief is that if we can get it right in church, the government, the governed and the governors will not have a choice but to sit up and do right as this nation forges ahead into the new century. If we cannot, however, the hope for restoration and sanity in our society will remain a pipedream.

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