“The terrible immoralities are the cunning ones hiding behind the mask of morality, such as exploiting people while pretending to help them.”
– Vernon Howard.
Without going preacher on anyone reading this post, I think it’s time I aired my view on the extremism of new age/generation churches, and on preachers and their prosperity driven messages.
Now, although the Nigerian economy is the 26th largest in the world and the first in Africa, we still have a great percentage of people living in poverty. And regardless of the steady rise of the middle class, there’s still so much gap between the rich and poor. The balance of the economy has been terribly upset.
“Look how the world’s poor people are amazed at apparitions, signs and prodigies”
– William Shakepeare.
It’s easy for the weak and poor to always seek the face of God. Since they assume too many odds stacked against them. That’s why they are most gullible and are easy to pass off the excesses of ‘men of God’ as signs from God. The prosperity messages that have filled our ears these recent years have got me thinking why we even bother to serve God.
With unemployment rates at 29.5% at 2013 (thisdaylive.com) and a very non chalant government to go with it, people device get-rich schemes for daily bread.
Every damn thing is attached to a sacrifice—offering, for instance—which is why before church ends, one would have given about five different kinds of offering. You should let no one deceive you on giving sacrifices or using Abraham as a model as he gave sacrifice offerings to God for his promises. The greatest sacrifice has been paid, and that is with Jesus dying on the cross and you do not have to give God any material thing. The idea is, there’s really nothing you give to repay him for sending his own son to come and chop koboko for me and you. Except your heart and devotion. That’s all he asks for, unconditional love. A life to true God-worship.
The problem with doing dishonest work, extorting from people poor people and getting fast money is that it takes away one’s humanity. It really is the only explanation I can give as to why properity preaching churches have men of God who are very wealthy and church members that can barely feed. I am mentioning no names.
If we are to be Christ-like, then the riches of this world should matter less than is blathered about. Maybe the need to bite more than we can chew comes from the way the rich live lavishly and rub their wealth in our faces. Maybe because technology has made it easy for us to peek into the life of lavish living people and hunger for it. Let’s get in sync here, I think we should all lead comfortable lives, be able to feed and enjoy the good things in life, but it’s only better and peaceful when these things are gotten honestly.
It’s a breeze to recall Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Americanah’, and how Ifemelu refused to help with church decorations because she knew, as well as everyone, that the man they were celebrating was a thief. The church would collect his stolen money and do whatever with it and it isn’t just fiction. It’s like churches have become trade zones where the chief mode of trading is by barter system.
The ones who claim to be in touch with the father exchange their sermon goods for our money and material goods. Even from those who can barely feed. At a sermon, some time last year, the preacher told us of a said man of God who’d said God will visit the girls that wore red panties and after using fear tactics on them, he asked for money. It is also said of another, who after having a power-filled miracle and deliverance service, asked for money but only from one thousand naira and above, and so if anyone had less, they couldn’t give. What on God’s good earth is God’s business with the colour of pant that human being is wearing? Or the amount in one’s pocket? Such trivialities are not his concern. God will bless both Good and bad people. Surely the rain and sunshine and for the evil and righteous. Most times wily preachers mislead people into thinking a christian shouldn’t suffer. Who then should suffer? Even the bible says this of suffering.
“Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to finding yourself. your true self. What kind of deal is to get everything you want but lose yourself? what could you ever trade your soul for”
Matthew 16:25-26 (The MSG)
Let no one decieve you with a fat load of cash because there’s blessing. This is where blessings lie: Remember when Jesus was at the synagogue and during collection everyone went dancing and smiling with their wealth that they cared not for and knew that they wouldn’t miss, but the old woman? The one who gave her all, whole heartedly. The littlest out of the abundance that was giving. That one, only that one pleased the Lord. Still, no one is saying because your iPhone 6 plus is very precious and you will miss it, you should give it to the church, no. Just give whatever is placed in your heart to give with a thankful and honest heart. O paari!
Men of God with private jets have become demi-gods. They run the town and we worship them. I once listened to a woman preach on TV. This woman’s message was solely about how devil runs things on earth (at least the topic said so), but this woman kept on about how she got a gift of a jeep and some bad belle people did not want her to drive it. Another time she got a gift of a car and she almost got lost. For the whole time I cared to listen, the only thing I heard was narcissm at its zenith.
Narcissm, self, self, self. Too many preachers talking about how they have to rush seminars at NY, Jamaica, Paris and Utopia all in one day. Talk about plane rides from Ethiopia to Canada to Sri Lanka from New Jersey. Wearing the best designer suits and heavy blings and rings that cost a fortune.
If Jesus’ message was self, christianity might have never survived beyond his lips. History has it that Jesus spoke about God’s kingdom and how open it is to everybody. God’s kingdom has nothing to do with race or gender, skin colour or texture of hair. God’s kingdon is not #Teamlightskin or #Teamdarkskin. God’s kingdom is not exclusive to APC or PDP members. God’s kingdom is neither socialist nor capitalist. Jesus was able to ignore the trivialities in his time to focus on getting people to love themselves and their neighbours.
“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma, look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.”
Matthew 7: 15-20 (The MSG)
Jesus did not come to tell us to be religious. In fact, here’s a reading: Matthew 23: 1-10. In it, Jesus warns his disciples to watch out for preachers who turn living a God-lead life into fashion shows with all the trivialities like honorary titles and being seen up high at occassions.
In my understanding, one ought to:
Love their enemies; as opposed to praying that holy ghost fire consume them. God isn’t some hitman or assasin that your hire to avenge your transgressions. No more every arrow sent to you by God-knows-who be gone back to sender in the name of Jesus. No more tit-for-tat, but living generously and graciously with one another. If Jesus was in the tit-for-tat business, y’all know you wouldn’t be reading this. We have grace, an abundance of it. Hence, the New Testament.
Pray in simplicity; as opposed to using big grammer and being boastful. Kicking and boxing the air and passing germs. You need not shout and bring down any wall of Jericho. I’ve learnt that it’s the heart that God sees and he knows our every need even before we ask. Look:
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will see his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for nonsense.”
Live a life of God-worship; as opposed to living a life of Pastor/bishop/general-overseer/man of God-worship. They are human like us. Give them respect, but do not be foolish.
Giving generously, not for eye service. Giving from the depth of ones heart, not out of compulsion, or because there is blessing attached to giving. And we do not always have to give money enriching the ones who should help enrich us spiritually. We can give our time, our ears, our compassion.
Love. Afterall it is the greatest commandment.
Not everyone is after your prosperity. Sometimes it’s just you, other times it’s a test of faith and in time you will get what is yours.
So yeah, I accuse some churches of being extremists, all for their selfishness. Extremists because they use certain Christian principles to their own advantage, using reverse psychology fear tactics and mind games, to win the minds of people. The effect is slow death and a congregation of money loving people. A congregation of materialistic people. A broken group of people who become paranoid and think someone is against them when things don’t work their way. A people who are detached from knowing Christ and becoming better christians. A breed of people that are not God-centered.
Extremism, in both major religion Islam and Christianity begins
with boju-boju people. LOL no. It begins with disgruntled people. No jobs, no food, no house and man must survive. And it’s on this fact that people are dragged and deceived.
Heaven help us.