I want to make it very clear that this article is not designed as an attack on the church or church leaders, in any shape or form. Indeed I believe that we are ALL at fault. I’m hoping that this article will open eyes and stir hearts. If it doesn’t, then I genuinely hope it encourages someone else to write something along the same lines with much greater impact.
The only message one seems to hear when attending the average church in Nigeria is ‘prosperity prosperity prosperity’. It is so common and so monotonous that it is almost beginning to sound like those ‘clanging symbols’ that the bible talks about.
Jesus came to earth as a carpenter. He personified humility and love. He personified simplicity. He rarely preached in a church building; and on the second occasion that He did, he was upset by what He saw – a place of business.
Jesus, whom Christianity is all about, told us to ‘go and do likewise’. In other words He wants us to love unconditionally, to give to the poor and needy – both in provisions, time and love, to heal the sick, to encourage and uplift those around us; to spread the great news that He has done all the ‘works’ that will ever be necessary for our permanent justification and righteousness.
When Jesus said that ‘money is the root of all evil’ He obviously wasn’t saying that money is evil. He simply does not want us to have money as the root and centre of our focus. The more money becomes the root and centre of our focus the more likely we are to compromise our faith and principles because of our innate and passionate desire to have it.
Unfortunately the constant prosperity preaching we are bombarded with in our churches isn’t helping at all. There is so much focus on what we must do and how we should do it in order to be ‘blessed’. So much so that Christianity in many churches today has more or less become a formula for blessings and breakthroughs. The result of all this is that our hearts are straying further and further away from God.
Remember, God looks at the heart and not what car we’re driving, how big our house is or how much we have in our bank accounts. It’s almost as if our only focus is earth. The whole point of our faith is that we are assured of blissful eternity in heaven. But way too many of us live our lives as though everything is about this place called earth; as though earth is the final destination.
I am not saying that one should not aspire to be the best they can be or to be successful or wealthy. Indeed, as a staunch Welfare Capitalist who believes that everyone should be given equal opportunity in education, health and housing etc, to go on and do as well as they want to do in their careers, such a notion doesn’t gel with me at all. But this should not be the main focus of Christ’s body. Money and success, as we have defined it, should not be the biggest and loudest messages coming pulpits across the country.
The greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. The second greatest commandment is for us to love each other in the same way.
How often do churches focus on love for one another? What is unconditional love? How do we serve one another? How can we transform our society into one of love, mercy and selflessness? What does it mean to have a heart for God?
Not service in order to be blessed. But service because we love God and love each other.
These are all topics that we should be focusing on more in our churches.
The fact is that we ALL (I know I certainly do) need help in this area – individually, and as a society.
A dire consequence of the constant prosperity preaching is the effect on young people. The youth of today are basically being brought up in an environment that is telling them that money is the root and pinnacle of success. As most of you know, I coach and train people. I often ask delegates what their goal in life is. About 60% of them say ‘I want to be very rich’. When I ask them why they want to be very rich they tend to get stuck.
Many are chasing wealth but don’t know why. This constant desire and chasing of wealth will more often result in frustration, emptiness and anxiety. Worse still, it results in a nation of ‘self’.
Listen out for the loudest Amen in church and you’ll find that it is when the pastor says something like ‘God will bless you’.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong in saying that. However there is a danger in there being too much focus on this, as it inevitably leads to a rather selfish society; the very antithesis of Christ’s message.
Christianity is fast becoming a faith of ‘self’.
We need to go back to basics; back to the heart of Christ.
I wrote this article because I sincerely believe that we ALL need help in this area. As far as I am concerned church leaders have a huge responsibility to help to create a selfless and loving society.
Every Sunday we pray for God to heal our land. We pray for God’s kingdom to reign in our leaders’ hearts.
We need to start praying more fervently for God’s kingdom (of love, humility, service to God and service to each other) to reign in OUR hearts.
For our country to change, WE must change.
We must change from being a people of ‘self’ to being a people of ‘selflessness’.
The tool that God wants to use to change our hearts and mind-sets is the church.
This is a responsibility that church leaders must embrace.
We need to go back to Love and Service.
A nation in which we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.