“Follow the shepherd, not the butcher”.
Great admonition by popular OAP Freeze.
Why should the response of a ‘man of God’ to queries about the high tuition costs of his university be that it is ‘ordained by God’ and that those who criticize it could face the wrath of God as opposed to saying something rational like the cost of running a university is high or something like that?
Reading about the life of Jesus Christ, I have come to understand that he was one who would rather be exploited than exploit people; he would rather admonish than threaten. So why do modern day pastors believe that they have to threaten and brainwash their congregation into submission with the ‘wrath of God’ as if it were a whip hidden in their wardrobes that they could summon at will to discipline those who questioned them or their methods?
It reminds me of an incident that happened on one of my journeys a few weeks ago. An ‘evangelist’ started preaching on the bus asking people to repent or face condemnation in the lake of fire. That’s normal these days even though Christ’s original message was ‘repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand’.
Things took a different turn when the ‘evangelist’ started to deliver a message of hate and judgement. He said all Catholics and Jehovah’s Witness were going to hell. That if you were a woman wearing trousers, you were hell bound. If you wore any form of jewelry, including wedding rings, you were to throw it away because wearing it would send you to hell.
The discomfort in the bus by the sudden change of tone was palpable as people began to shift uneasily in their seats. I was initially asleep when his ‘evangelism’ started but his loud and authoritarian voice woke me up and as I heard him speak these things, I was wounded in my spirit.
I had to cut him short.
“Oga, what are you preaching? Are you preaching what Jesus Christ said to preach or you added yours to suit your purpose.” I asked.
“All these things I’m saying are in the Bible.” He retorted haughtily, like I was some insignificant insect who had interrupted his flow and tried to continue but I cut in again.
“Where in the Bible? I have a Bible on my phone. Quote the verse, let’s check it out.” I asked.
He ignored me and continued with his sermon of hate and judgement but I persisted. When he saw that I wasn’t ready to back down, he said “Don’t question God?”
“I’m not questioning God. I’m questioning you.” I said.
Realizing that I was probably a troublemaker, he ignored me and continued with his message of hate which I allowed finish after which I asked.
“Why do you feel it is necessary to threaten people with death and fire for them to change their ways? Is that how Jesus did it? Is that the concept of being Born Again? Do you know that if you threaten a man with death instead of appealing to his conscience to make him change his ways and he does, there is no conviction in the heart, only fear. And sooner or later, the fear goes away and he is right back where he started?”
The ‘evangelist’ had no answer.
“How do you know that all Catholics and Jehovah’s witnesses are going to hell? And please don’t tell me its in the Bible because its not.”
“So you sat there in your own righteousness, basically a filthy rag in God’s eyes and decided to hand down judgement because you are God or God told you to do so?”
“Ok. Let me ask something different. Why do you preach?”
“If you are a real Christian, you preach because of love for your fellow man. You preach because you want him/her to right their ways with God and man and save themselves from eternal condemnation. There is a reward for saving souls too. In heaven, there is a crown with stars for soul winners. Since according to you, jewelry of any sort is evil, if Jesus himself gave you one, would you refuse it?”
“Your understanding of the Bible and the word of God is fuzzy, ignorant and misleading. The crown of stars is a symbol of achievement, much like a wedding ring is a symbol of marital union. That all people who wear wedding rings are going to hell because its a jewelry is laughable. Who told you?”
By then, the bustle on the bus had resumed as the occupants wondered why he had no response.
The lady sitting next to me then spoke. “Who told you that trousers is exclusively the clothing of a man? Don’t you know there are trousers for men and trousers for women?”
“Women are not supposed to wear trousers.” He grumbled.
“Where is it written? Did Jesus wear a trouser when he was on earth? Was it not robes that was the fashion of the day at that time? What about Scottish men who its their tradition to wear skirts? Are they going to hell too?” She asked.
“What you just did is like throwing away the baby with the bathe water. A deeper and broader understanding is needed to explain away what you vehemently believe to be wrong from your own enclosed perspective.” I added.
“My worry is that there are too many gullible people out there whom you have misled with your limited understanding. How do we undo that?”
No man alive can and should claim monopoly of the access to, knowledge and understanding of God. When ‘men of God’ elevate themselves to demagogue status with the approval of their followers, they open themselves to the inevitable corruption of power and the followers open themselves up to consensual abuse. No preacher is a god because he claims to have access to God. If you want access to God, you can have it.
That’s why we have Jesus. That’s why he died so that all can have direct contact with God through him. Do what’s necessary and God can use you, anybody as He used great preachers of old. Direct contact to God is not an exclusive club for ‘men of God’.
The reality is that we live in perilous times today where people are driven by greed and lust for power. This is no less so in the Christendom. This man-made institution has been corrupted so bad that the original meaning of the word “Christian” which was the description given to true followers of Christ who modelled their life and passions after him in the early years after his death.
This why the arrogance of many of today’s “men of God” rankles deeply and is responsible for the lethargic attitude of the world to Christianity. The hallmark of the life of Jesus Christ and his followers could be explained in two words; love and humility — characteristics alien in modern day churches today.
The man-made institution of Christianity has been deeply corrupted and somehow infused with a mad rush for materialism. As Jesus said, you can’t serve God and mammon. Instead of the salvation of the souls which was the singular mission of Jesus Christ, we have all sorts of “preachers” who have become prosperity ministers and are willing to at a moment’s notice provide skewered biblical interpretations to favour their agendas. Little wonder why the motto of a popular branch of a church in Nigeria can have as its motto, “Turning little shots into big shots in a short time”.
There is no excuse to be ignorant at times like these especially as information is at every one’s finger tips. The least anyone can do for himself is to be knowledgeable in the things that concern and interest you so that you can ask questions and never be afraid to do so. If we don’t challenge a system poisoned by greed and lust for power, we will forever remain slaves.
Photo Credits: Somewhere on the Internet