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A Serious Warning to the Nigerian Christian – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

I have a serious warning for Christians living in Nigeria that they must be vigilant, wise as a serpent and seek the leading of the blesseth Holy Spirit in all their spiritual endeavors and undertakings lest they fall prey to scammers that are well camouflaged as pastors of the word of God. My last visit to Nigeria has opened my eyes to the seemingly estranged world of Christendom in Nigeria, how pastors and self-appointed men of God of modern day churches in Lagos and throughout the fruited plains of Nigeria are fleecing their congregation and smiling all the way to the bank. This is clearly a deviation from the well-intentioned mandate given by the Holy Bible and some Nigerian pastors are violating this precept without let or hinder. This trend is alarming and regrettably shows no sign of abatement; it confirms the Biblical proclamation that the end is near.

In Nigerian churches these days, the primary focus of salvation which is the cornerstone of the Christian faith has been jettisoned for the more fashionable gospel of prosperity, the mantra is the four ‘Ms’ of “Money, Money and More Money” and this has become the motivation to orchestrate an intractable web of deceit to pull members into their fold. It is no surprise that this topic resides permanently on the lips of these pastors as it appears to be their ticket to prosperity. Most of them except for those (may God bless and prosper them) that are still true to their calling and remain pious and dutiful in the face of rampant avarice have stopped preaching the “fire and brimstone” gospel in order not to offend the ‘big donors’. They now preach about prosperity, they say “Our God is not a poor God”, therefore, one must amass all the wealth in the world and by all means. During my stay in Nigeria, none of the churches I attended warned of the consequences of sin and disobedience to God which is exactly the problem with Nigeria, rather, they all preached the “feel good” gospel of prosperity and blessings; and to think that these were once churches that preached the sound gospel of Christ belies the perilous times in which we live. They have all been sucked into this money-making mentality, the church is now seen as a mint, a cash cow for these pastors to lead extravagant lifestyles that are in stark contrast to those led by their congregants.

There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture and even the Bible states it clearly in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” But these pastors are not concerned with this injunction, they are not concerned about the righteousness of His kingdom, they draw hefty salaries, drive expensive cars such as the Bentley, Hummers and the finest the automobile industries around the world have to offer while members of their congregation can barely afford three square meals. This is unconscionable and an aberration of the word of God. The Bible assures in Deuteronomy 32:4,“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Therefore, it remains inconceivable that the just God would be selective in his blessings and bless the pastor while his congregation lingers. But that is the exact situation in most of these churches where the car park is filled with worn-out motor bikes while the pastor drives a Hummer or Bentley; while a majority of the congregation lives in slums with no in-door plumbing with weird and unsightly creatures as neighbors, the pastor lives in opulence in the finest architectural edifice. What is even more worrisome is the fact that these pastors do not see it necessary to have the true calling (or anointing, if you will) of God to become stewards of His words. They do not feel the need to be trained and soused properly in His word through the formal educational mediums that those before had taken.  These days, the pastorate appears to be a means to en end, an answer to the high unemployment that is ravaging our country and that is why they often speak uninspired words because the anointing is glaringly lacking.

I witnessed some of these pastors prey on the vulnerabilities of their members most of whom were severely burdened by one spiritual ailment or material obstacle seeking relief through divine intervention. The victims were mostly young women seeking husbands or those with husbands seeking the fruit of the womb and young couples in search of  financial breakthroughs in a country so corrupt that some Christians have to constantly bribe their way through society and pray for forgiveness afterwards, and next minute repeat the same feat. Regrettably, some young Christian sisters appear to have forgotten the rudimentary tenets of the Bible as they easily succumb to such pastors even in sinful endeavors. When a pastor asks a young married sister with difficulties having children to see him alone (without her husband) in remote locations and at ungodly hours it is often a sign of impending impropriety. But this happens so often in some Nigerian churches and some members with warped mentality follow such pastors sheepishly even to their deaths as witnessed in the case of Rev. Chukwuemeka King who has been sentenced to death for setting some members on fire, killing a young lady in the process.

With the swelling number of churches in Nigeria and Lagos in particular where every nook and corner appears to have a church tucked in, one has to wonder why Nigeria has remained one of the most sinful and corrupt countries on earth; it ought to be the country that serves as the prelude to heaven. We hold endless prayer meetings, prayer conferences, riotous crusades and night vigils yet Nigeria, our beloved country, continues its free fall into the abyss with seemingly no hope of restoration. Could it be that sin and the abundant pretentiousness that is permeating Nigeria’s Christendom is serving as a buffer between Nigerian Christians and God?  The Bible notes in Proverbs 14:34  – “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” It is impossible for God in His righteousness to coexist with sin and that underscores the essence of our spiritual malfeasance as a nation; until this cloak of ostentation-ism is dispelled and Nigerian Christians begin to reclaim their faith from the false prophets all efforts might just end up in futility.

To complicate matters, it is now commonplace for some Nigerian pastors to combine their pastoral duties with politics. What greater calling can a man (women) have than to be a servant of the most high and why taint such divine responsible with the solecism and vulgarism of politics of the Nigerian variety for that matter. The Bible notes that our God is a jealous God and does not fancy divided loyalties. In Exodus 34:13, he warns – “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” As we know, in Nigeria, politics has become an intoxicant, a god in its right and anyone that pursues it must bow to its dictates and tow its crooked path. To keep us away from such duplicity and betrayal, God offers additional warning in Matthew 6”24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” While it is our collective responsibility to serve our country, it is a higher honor to serve God in the capacity of the priesthood, but some Nigerian pastors of today appear to have other lucrative ideas that could only be self-serving and seen as incongruent to the divine manifesto.

Some of them now perambulate as tin gods in their congregation – they appropriate themselves titles that even our Lord Jesus, the chief evangelist of all times could not appropriate to himself while he served His father on earth for thirty-three years. Nowadays, they take on the title of CEO (as though churches were corporations) and I understand one has called himself the ‘president’ of his church. They travel in bullet proof cars with the most able bodied men in the land as their security forgetting all along the promise of God in Proverbs 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

These days, the competition among the pastors is fierce and they trip over one another in self-glorification and aggrandizement. They no longer measure success by the number of souls they have led to Christ but by the number of fancy cars and mansions (in Lekki and London, most likely) they have; by how big their churches are and the size and cost of their private jets. All of these supported by tithe money and offerings from the faithful congregants most of whom are deprived of any form of financial transparency and accountability. I was told the other day that a Nigerian church had introduced the idea of the “thirteenth” month where members would pay tithe for a phantom month evidently to support the imprudent lifestyle of the pastor…such brilliance!

With all these worldly distractions, it will be difficult to know if the Nigerian church is still about Christ or canality has taken a stronghold. Is Christ still the “front and center” or has He been relegated to the back and replaced with money, fame and ego? Let every Nigerian Christian beware that not all that call the name of the Lord shall enter the kingdom.  Some of these pastors have abandoned their true calling for the thrills of the flesh and some never had the calling but have mastered the art of acting on the pulpit. The Bible states in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” It further notes in Matthew 22:14 that “many are called but few are chosen.” Indeed!

 

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Posted by on Jul 16 2011. Filed under Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, P, Religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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