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gentle giant
Jun 9, 2012, 01:34 AM
The Church and I
A very odd and probably ridiculous topic, I agree, nevertheless it begs much to be discussed.
As a corps member, shanghaied into the service of my nation by a rather obnoxious edict, I have had to travel to a terrain of my country that I am rather unfamiliar with. Although where I'm coming from, churches abound in numbers, this new milieu seems to take it to a whole new level; every corner in every street harbours a house of worship.
My concern or argument is not against the multiplicity of the church (the more the merrier, I always say) rather with the essence, psyche and sensibility which the churches effuse. A fellow corps member friend told me that if the number of churches we have in Nigeria were equivalent to the amount of higher institutions we have, every Nigerian will be a graduate.
The bill boards, the posters, the flyers... all come together these days to paint a picture of a pious society deeply entrenched in a thirst and quest for supernatural wholeness and spiritual sanctification. It is however painful to say that this is not the case.
The Christianity which find practiced in my country is rather 'faithless'. Pecuniary dividend for both the shepherd and the flock has come to be the central theme of the brand of religion in my country. Recently, I honored the invitation of a friend to come to her church. The church's services were held in the banquet hall of a hotel; an arrangement which, as a conservative, I found incongruous but was willing to overlook.
The highlight of my surprise came when the preacher or 'pastor' while talking about his sermon on wealth creation said "yes, we know of the glory bye the bye but we need the glory now and now" this were not his exact words but this is what I could reconstruct. Simply put, this was the message he was trying to pass across "Christianity and faith is a catalyst to earthly glory and upliftment". Faith, I think, should be the hope for and believe in substance unseen, a belief in the empirically unproven
While I am not an advocate of ascetic or austere faith as a prerequisite for serving God, I do not think that the church is the appropriate place to talk about money making either. If I wanted to hear that, I know the appropriate seminars and symposiums to attend.
It seems to me that what we are in effect promoting is that profit and gain is the only incentive to follow the way of God. Thus, the stickers and banners continue to read "MY YEAR OF FINANCIAL FULFILMENT" "MY YEAR OF UNCOMMON FAVOUR" "THE GOD OF WEALTH AND ABUNDANCE'. Christ and Christianity have become a fast selling blue chip company in the religion stock exchange which a believer must buy into and watch his stock soar.
The believer pays his offerings and tithes, not because it is an obligation, duty or requirement of his faith but because he is expecting a double blessing or miracle for the 'gift of giving' that he has displayed. Therefore, the bible verses "give and it will come back to you, " and "my lord will supply all your needs..." have become hackneyed offering time chants and rotes.
From the foregoing, some will be quick to conclude that a conservative prig who is averse to change is just reeling off and spewing out his poison against new ways and trends. Yes, I am a conservative, this I do not deny, but I am a liberal conservative. One who believes that change should be measured: advancement should come but should be built on existing civilizations, we cannot decide to sweep aside what has been in one fell swoop of madness because we want to dance to the tunes of the world. The church is a symbol of our faith and belief; we cannot incorporate it into the sensibilities of the world, NO! It will be trying to make two parallel lines meet. We cannot serve Mammon and God. I believe Christ made this clear enough, although modern preachers continue to obfuscate his teachings to suit their own selfish ends of showing the people what is not. So they justify bribery and corruption with verses like "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and give unto God what is God's" amongst other atrocious things.
Religion and faith are age long institutions. This is not to say that they should not be subject to changes. If they were not, they would be dead. However let the change be examined before it is adopted, let it come but let it be gradual and well scrutinized so that as the modern world takes over all aspect of human endeavour, let us still be left with this little sanity of yesterday; we should not just erode our institutions in our crazy drive to evolution lest we find that our triumph in human advancement was pyrrhic if not, ferocious.
Religion and faith are not matters of convenience, it should not be when it suits us, this why Christ said, to the man who wanted to bury his father before becoming a disciple, that "let the dead bury their dead" I translate this to mean; leave the affairs of the world to the world. On the issue of comfort that whoever wants to follow him must be willing to "carry his cross"
Finally, on the issue of using the church as a media for financial upliftment, thereby forsaking the spiritual matters (our connection with God, our faith in Christ, the tenets and requirements of Christianity) I have this few words by Christ himself to give "lay not for yourself earthly treasures...but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal."
The important phenomenon in Christianity, to borrow the words of J.F. Kennedy, is not what faith can do for you but what the believer must do with, in and sometimes for faith. The good things that come from having faith should never be seen as profits or dividends that must proceed from a bargain rather they should be seen as bonuses or dashes. They are not the essence of faith rather they are just by the way happenstances.
E.A.G. 2011