By Femi Aribisala
It started out as a Sunday morning service like every other one in a Lekki, Lagos parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). One of the church workers was at the podium briefing the congregation on the up-coming events of the week. Nobody thought anything was unusual when the pastor’s wife came to the pulpit and asked to address the church. Nobody thought that to be out of the ordinary, until she started speaking.
“Brothers and sisters in Christ,” she began, “please ask your pastor where he spent the night yesterday. Please ask him, he is seated right there.”
There was shock and disbelief all around. Quickly, someone went up to appeal to her not to continue in that line of inquiry. She offered little resistance when he took the microphone from her and led her off the pulpit. But the damage had been done. By the end of the service, the pastor had tendered his resignation. By the end of the week, he had eloped with his young mistress to address unknown. He disappeared, taking with him among other things, the rent paid to him as estate agent for my brother’s house.
The Good Pastor
Jesus says: “I am the good pastor; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own.” (John 10:14). He says furthermore: “All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:8). What about those who come after him? It is the same. They are also thieves and robbers. Going by his statement, Jesus is the only possible Good Pastor; all other pastors must be bad.
This is because Jesus uses two yardsticks to differentiate the Good Pastor from bad pastors. In the first place, he says the Good Pastor knows his sheep and his sheep know him. This immediately disqualifies all pastors across the ages from being qualified to be good pastors. Not even the pastor of the smallest of churches can claim to know the members of his congregation in the way Jesus is talking about here; and no church-member really knows a pastor. Neither knows the other’s burdens of sin or sickness.
Berverly Miller, my wife’s aunt, thought she knew her pastor. He was a very personable man, well-regarded by members of his church. But one day, some photographs surfaced of him at a wedding in which he was getting married to another man. The pastor was dressed as a woman, resplendent in a white wedding gown. They were sent to the church by the groom in the pictures who had since become disgruntled as a result of the break-up of their “marriage.”
One needs hardly point out that this kind of shocker is out of the question with Jesus. Unlike other pastors, Jesus is intrinsically good and sinless. (1 Peter 2:22). While they are ignorant; Jesus knows all things. (John 16:30). Moreover, those privileged to have of his Spirit grow daily in the knowledge of him. (John 14:26).
Jesus also points out that the Good Pastor lays down his life for his congregation. (John 10:11). This is hardly the job-description of today’s pastors. Rather than lay down their lives for others, the modern pastor requires his church-members to lay down their lives for him so he can maintain comfortable, if not lavish, lifestyles.
Once God revealed the Good Pastor, all impostors should have disappeared. Jesus prayed for the unity of the church. (John 17:21-23). This can only happen if we have the one and the same pastor for all Christians in every age. Only Jesus can be pastor yesterday and today and forever. Therefore, for anyone else to claim to be a pastor today is to arrogate to himself a position that can only belong to Jesus, who is not limited by time and space.
By its very essence, the office of the pastor today is designed to nullify the ministry and teachings of Jesus.
With Jesus as sole pastor, there would be no grounds for denominationalism. We would have fellowships in different places, but the one called Christ Embassy would not need to be at loggerheads with the one called Household of God. Churches would not be the personal empires of different self-seeking men as we have them today. The Jesus of one church would not be different from that of another. There would be no special category of Christians deceiving men into buying them jet-planes on spurious evangelical grounds.
However, today’s pastors militate against these tendencies as they strive to exercise maximum control over their churches. Evangelism has become the bringing of men into the kingdoms of particular pastors who, as Jesus observes, institute man-made regulations; preferring the traditions of men to the commands of God. (Mark 7:7-8). Thus, Isaiah observes that: “They are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are pastors who cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory.” (Isaiah 56:11).
The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is the fulfilment of God’s promise that: “I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). This makes human pastors anachronisms today.
Jesus confirms this. He says: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” (John 6:45). Correspondingly, every man who hears and learns from bad pastors is driven away from Jesus to men. The centrality of every teaching must be of God and by God. This is why the Holy Spirit only testifies of Jesus. (John 15:26).
Accordingly, John also affirms that the Lord, and him alone, must now be our pastor and teacher. He says: “The anointing which you have received from him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in him. (1 John 2:27).
All this is certainly bad news for today’s fake pastors. If Jesus were to be acknowledged as sole pastor, they would lose their strangulating hold over Christians, as well as their highfalutin position in the churches. Christians would seek to know God personally and not just attend church. Jesus says: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). The truth of Jesus sets us free from the bondage and lies of pastors, among other things.
Inevitably, Jesus’ doctrine is extremely dangerous for pastors. Therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, pastors become “Jesus killers.” By its very essence, the office of the pastor today is designed to nullify the ministry and teachings of Jesus. This then is the word of Jesus for these pastors: “tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31).