Do you have any young children? If you do, I’m sure you know what it means to wear bananas: left pair on right foot, right pair on left foot. For 2 year olds, easy to let it pass. Cute even. But as a metaphor for the state of the church of Christ, it is sad.
We seem to be doing our Christian walk in reverse. Too often, the way we live seems to be the exact opposite of what the Lord taught. Our contemporary experience as a church within the context of the Nigerian state provides ample material for examining this serious problem that is challenging our witness.
“To whom much is given” Jesus said, “much shall be required”. Scarcely can one find anyone in his right mind who will argue that God hasn’t given much to Nigeria as a nation, and if you think about it, you might also realize that the body of Christ in Nigeria, if situated in the story of talents; is the servant that received 10 talents.
In what seems to be a shocking reversal of that parable however, it is the servant who has received the 10 talents who has done nothing with it. Nations with far fewer resources have been better stewards and the body of Christ in jurisdictions more hostile to the gospel seem to yield a greater harvest of righteousness.
Indeed to a great extent we have reduced our religion to a riot of empty rituals done by rote, completely disengaged from our real, everyday lives. While Christ has called us to retire to our closet in prayers, we tend to seek out street corners and blare away at a God who appears so far away. While he has said to do our alms discretely, we prefer to descend on the needy with a loud and outlandishly dressed entourage, with the full complement of camera crews to deliver a few cartons of Indomie noodles to mark some infrequent anniversary.
Even the things that he permitted, we have touched it with our unbridled greed and utterly misplaced our priorities. With the regularity with which we harp on tithes, who would have though that Jesus ever said; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you give a tenth of your mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected and omitted the weightier (more important) matters of the Law–right and justice and mercy and fidelity. These you ought [particularly] to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 AMP)
Clearly, Jesus viewed the every day matters of fairness and honesty to be of greater importance than the strident nit-picking and fear-mongering about tithes. Indeed, the law of Moses dealt exhaustively with the civic matters of life on the street but rather than place as much emphasis as God does on those issues, we have rather focused almost exclusively on helping the Almighty raise His internally generated revenue profile. All to what end?
In fact, for a nation like ours that likes to make a show of fasting and prayer, God points us back once more to simply dealing fairly with our neighbours. NEWSFLASH. here’s what God says about fasting…
“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. “Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. “If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon”. (Isaiah 58:6-10 GNT)
Again and again we are pointed away from the rituals to the ‘street’ as the place to live out our faith. He said “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 AMP).
The question is, where is that moral excellence of which Christ speaks on display? “We are the light of the world” he says, why is every sector of this nation engulfed in darkness?
It is so because this Sunday, many people with questionable ‘wealth’ and even known thieves will come to church and listen to the usual motivational, get-all-you-can-and-can-all-you-get stump. Unlike Zacheaus, they won’t run after Jesus and climb trees to catch a glimpse of him; more than likely they will park their luxury cars in reserved parking spaces near the pastor’s, and will be received by a fawning protocol team and sometimes a scraping and bowing pastor.
My brethren, these things ought not to be so. We are focusing all our energies on treating the ringworm on the head when a knife has been put to the neck. We are wearing bananas o!