By John Moyibi Amoda
THE negotiation between the Christian religious establishment and government on taxes of the income of churches is the occasion of this reflection on the difference between God of His business and traders in God.
Godâ€™s business predates by eternity the trading in God.Â Trading in God began with manâ€™s attempt to build a city and a tower.
â€œAnd they said, go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they imagined to doâ€ (Genesis 11:4-6).
The building of the city and the tower was the first biblical description of concerted work of the children of men outside of the will of God.
God took notice of the development of manâ€™s wilfulness and confidence in self and God noticed and saw that â€œnow nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to doâ€.
This self-independence of God and with unrestrained imagination is the mind of traders in God.Â Traders in God are of ecumenical variety, they are inventors of religions, finding their authority in the rites and rituals that they legislate.
In their holy books their God is described as God, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
The holy books differentiate these traders in God, and across-holy books contrasts and comparisons are religio-centric and thus a theologically invalid endeavour.
Exposition of the contract between God in charge of His business and traders in God is valid only as an intra-faith appraisal.
Thus, my concern in this essay is necessarily limited to Christianity in its Pentecostal dialect.Â It is thus theologically illustrative of the contrast as conceptualized in the titled pf the essau.
Each faith, each sect, each denomination has its specific dichotomy of concerns, the concerns of God and traders in the concerns of God.
For each, the difference is the difference between principals; in the concerns of God, God is his own principal; in the traders in the concerns of God, the traders are the principal.
This difference in principals, Jesus of Nazareth made clear in the following exchange between the Pharisees and Himself:
â€œThen went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.Â Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou?
Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?Â But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?Â Shew me the tribute money.Â And they brought unto him a penny.Â And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
They said unto him, Caesarâ€™s;Â then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesars; and unto God the things that are Godsâ€.
Jesus answered the Pharisees thus:
-Give to Caesar the things that have the image and inscription of Caesar.Â The things that are Caesarâ€™s are the tribute money.
Give to God the things that have the image and inscription of God.
There are the things which are Caesarâ€™s and there are the things which are Godâ€™s.Â God demands tribute in the things which are made in His image, and after His likeness.
This is the business goal of God and the aim of His Kingdom on earth.Â Not so, the aim and goals of the traders in God.Â In the name of God, they are in business in competition with Caesar.
They demand the things that are Caesarâ€™s from â€œChildren of Godâ€, and thus Caesar is justified in his response to those who have set up their kingdom in his realm and who deny him the things that are his – his because he made these things.
The relevance of the above in the present discussion between the Lagos State government and the Christian establishment is evident in the fact that the Lagos State government is Caesar.
Those who dwell in the State are required by the law of the State to pay tax; that is, to render tribute to Caesar with the tribute money demanded by Caesar.
The Lagos State government is not demanding from the Christian churches or the Moslem mosques, or from the Juju temples, the things that are Godâ€™s.
There ought to be no dispute between the traders in God and the State; the dispute arises because the traders in God demand from their faith-adherents the things that are Caesarâ€™s.
For the Christian principal, especially those of my tribe, the Pentecostal Evangelical Christians, their dispute with Caesar arises in their statement that they need to receive the things of Caesar to enable them undertake the merchandising of God as â€œnicheâ€ product.Â This claim the God of the Holy Bible does not endorse for He is the principal of His business.
The God of the Christian Holy Bible demands only the things that are His and what is it that are Godâ€™s?Â Obedience to His commandments.Â And all men have failed to give Him what are his.Â Adam and Eve failed, and became the progenitor of all who cannot but fail God.
â€œFor all have sinned and come short of the glory of Godâ€ (Romans 3:23).
The above is the conclusion.Â What are the evidence of God as His own principal?Â We will provide illustrations of God and His business from the Christian Holy Bible.Â We begin with creation itself; God does not create with money.
All of Creation was by His Word.Â From Genesis 1:1-31 we have evidence of Godâ€™s technology.Â He spoke creation into being; He did not employ factors of production.Â He commanded the things that be not as if they were. (Romans 4:17)
â€œAnd God said, Let there be light: and there was light (verse 3) And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.Â And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so (verses 6-7)
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so: (Verse 9). And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so (verse 11)
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for season, and for days and years.Â And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so (verse 14-15)
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so (verse 24)
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earthâ€¦And God saw everything that he made, and, behold it was very good.