(As written by Lanre Afolayan)
This topic is a grey area within the church today which often times generates a lot of controversy among church folks. Many people that concur to this line of thought are neither bold nor courageous to discuss it publicly because of the backlash it would receive.
We however can not be mute or timid on matters that are crucial to God and to our faith simply because we don’t want to be persecuted.
There is a priority of the Kingdom of God that we must begin to shove into our hearts even as Christians, which is the soul of man in eternity.
It is paramount therefore that we begin to retrace our steps back to what is important to God as we acknowledge that He is the king of the Kingdom.
The church today has misplaced her priority making benign the most important assignment and mandate given by God to her. While we celebrate the splendour, glory and the blessings that acrue to us even as children of God, we must however not forget the most crucial thing which is the soul of man.
For this purpose God deployed His most precious, most valued and only begotten son Jesus Christ to this world.It is rather unfortunate and unbelievable that we who are beneficiaries of this uncommon and only plan of God for the deliverance of the souls of men, have reduced the importance and significance to common wealth.
Thereby minimising on the major and maximising on the minor in our assignment. Whether we believe it or not, wealth is common to man.
No man has monopoly of wealth, whether jew or gentile, white or black, hindu or eatheist, muslim or Christian. Many of the world’s wealthiest men and women are not even Christians.
Our Lord Jesus did not die on the cross just so somebody can be rich. John 3:16 for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
This is the anchor for our faith. It is also probably the simplest and most easily remembered and recited scripture in the Bible, hence most often overlooked.
The truth is, it is the most precise and most expilcit scripture that describes God’s only eternal plan for mankind.The focus of this discussion therefore is that Christianity today must return to what makes it distinguished.
Our churches today seem to impose money on the congregations as though it is a prerequisite for eternal life. In fact it appears in some quarters that if you are rich and wealthy, then God is truly working with or for you.
That however is not to say that being poor is a virtue. The truth is, whether you are poor or rich, has no significant consequence on your eternal life. Whether you are poor or rich, life comes with various challenges and presents to you the incumbent burden of choices that you have to make on a daily basis.
At the end of time, God is not going to ask you how many houses or churches you built on earth. Or how many cars and private jets you had. Or why you were not able to afford 3 squre meals a day. Or why you were not able to pay your children’s tuitions. The questions will be narrowed down to your soul and walk with God.
The gospel is very simple, clear and unambiguous. Unfortunately, a lot of our pastorstoday have made it rather complex and unattainable to grasp by reason of trying to manipulate the scriptures to suit or fit their strategies for cajoling and cohersing people for money.
They twist scriptures and design messages to target the pockets of their congregation and not their souls. Have you not noticed that at the end of every of their messages is money call instead of the alter calls?
Every program is a subtle designed for fund raising. In fact, when you are going to some churches or programmes you have to be thinking about money for 3 or 4 offerings and seeds.
They say things like ” God wants to make 20 people here tonight billionaires by end of this month, 20 people to sow 100, 000 naira or dollars” as though God is a magician.
Before you know it, 100 gullible people have come out and 80 won’t be sent back. Or they show you various scriptures on giving just so to corroborate their message to compel people.
Then people that could give leave church service feeling like fake billionaires and people that didn’t have to give leave church service feeling sad or challenged, then go to commit crime (steal office money) to give next time in church.
That is why some people can’t go to some penticostal churches again. The truth is ignorance is prevalent among a lot of people so they become preys.
Every child of God must show himself approved and not tossed to and fro.
There are some pastors that have perfected and equipped themselves to raise funds in various churches. So when some churches want to raise funds, the pastor knows who to invite to get the job done.
Such pastors have become fund raisers and not soul winners. Honestly, you don’t want to meet these fund raisers in any programme. If you do, you stand a chance of loosing your precious car joyfully in the name of sowing, and finding yourself treck back home. Or empty your account without knowing.
God help you, if you don’t have anything to give, you may decide to sow your wife or child if they are with you.
These guys really know how to raise funds with scriptures. They have various powerful testimonies of how it has worked for them or other people, such that by the time they are done with the congregation, everyone comes running to sacrificially give. Some will even call out your mobile phone number.
The next thing you see is the man of God cruising the latest Mercedes benz suv or buying a private jet. These then go on and on. Then the younger associate pastor sees the opulence and affluence of the senior pastor then goes to start his own church without a call from God and begins the same. That is why we have serious proliferation of churches today influenced by vanity of life and not eternity of life.
It is not a sin for a pastor to drive a great car or own a private jet but it is an abuse to humanity if you as a pastor have people in your congregation who have no means to proper health care, feeding and welfare yet you own a private jet.
You have people around you that can’t afford tuition for their wards and you cruise around in a 30 million naira car. All things are lawful but not all are expedient.
Pastor Tunde Bakare did something so remarkable and worthy of emulation recently. He turned down the offer of a luxurious 2015 rose royce. He could not imagine how he would drive the car around within an economy and environment where people are struggling to eat 3 square meals a day.
Now, only a good politician and true pastor says or thinks that. I have also heard on tape a pastor preach saying ‘ your life is your money’. When the Bible has clearly informed in luke 12:15 that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Now this is Jesus Himself talking, admonishing us to watch out. When we die in flesh and leave this body, we don’t take with us any of our earthly possessions.
It is an acceptable thing to have a pastor live large on luxury materials if he or she has a personal business totally unconnected to the church economy or has a great job that pays the bill. But when the bulk of the money he uses for flamboyance comes from the church’s purse and economy, then it is totally unacceptable.
The place of the pastor is the place of compassion and care. There’s no way to convince a member of your church who is genuinely struggling with house rent or tuition fees for his wards etc that you care when you don’t make any reasonable effort to alleviate his pain.
As pastors, we have the smart way to explain it away or justify the need to acquire such luxuries, but we must check our hearts to desist from vanity. I see and read about pastors flying private jets and how they defend the need for it that they need to be in 2 or 3 countries in quik time and so on.
My question is, can you save the whole world ? or are you the only preacher in those parts of the world. Even Jesus did his own part and asked us to raise disciples to do the rest.
The church has unfortunately become wordly as though we have forgotten that all these things are temporal and won’t matter after all.
We have concerned ourselves seriously with matters that don’t matter in the equation of life and eternity. There is absolutely no need for a pastor to possess 5 to 7 luxury cars personally. They say ” they are gifts” , why not sell one or two to help other people in your congregation?
Some even will sow a 20 million naira car into another pastor that has 10 cars in his yard already. What is the meaning of that? Hebrews 7:7 says ‘ and indisputably, the lesser is blessed by the greater.’
Some of such pastors have twisted this clear transparent scripture to mean that the poorer people, or the struggling Christian seeking for breakthrough is the one to sow seeds that he doesn’t have into the man of God.
The principle of seed sowing is great and scriptural but not by cohersion. Every time Jesus provided for someone or people in the Bible, it was out of compassion and care for their welfare and not because he expected something in return.
I have studied the synoptic gospel over and over again, and it appears that Jesus was always trying to reduce the attention on wealth acquisition. Now, this is contrary to popular teachings in our various churches and programmes today…..
To be continued….