By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
They put themselves there. They parade a Big God. Yes He is big. But they do only small things. They are never embarrassed. They cover their ineffectiveness by exaggerating their small mundane deeds.
It’s not the fault of God. God wanted them to be heavenly minded but they are preoccupied with the world.
There are two brands of pentecostal christianity. One loathes prosperity. So those who embrace this are allowed to replace work with eternal fellowships and slothfulness in obsession with miracles. This congregation is filled with stoics and spartans. There is widespread abiding poverty and ignorance. The congregation is conditioned to view prosperity as distraction , lasciviousness. In their midst there is solidarity but no real love. They look out for their brethren but are always so sectarian their charity doesn’t extend to anyone else. Their outlook is always narrow. They never see beyond their denomination. They are often not bothered by politics.
Being very poor they are more conscious of Heaven than the others. They dream miracles of turning water to wine and destruction of witches. Something about their orientation and circumstance leaves them closet sadists.
Their pastors tell them so much about sexual sins but not enough about humanity. Their pastors teach them the righteousness of pharisees, which is good, but haven’t been able to explain to them why they claim so much spiritual powers against witches but none against hunger and diseases.
This group is rightly told that Prayers can work wonders. But they have never been told the truth. That their prayers haven’t really worked much . That there must be something fundamentally wrong with their lives and their understanding of God.
Then there is the other extreme.
They claim high spirituality too. Their spirituality has a human face. It is tempered by their focus on earthly success. So they worship God because they want to be rich and healthy on earth. Heaven is desired but it is essentially secondary.
Their preoccupation with success, career and wealth allows the recognition of prosperity as the chief blessing of God. And because prosperity feeds the flesh, this group is content with mild-moderate spirituality. Pragmatic spirituality rather than the claustrophobic variety of the earlier group. This is the group that makes mountains out of mole hills in the name of testimonies. The group that finds success through all means and attributes it to God to settle Him.
Having made prosperity the essence, they make a lot of noise when little money comes their way. They are told God blesses His people with abundant wealth. But no one has explained to them the phenomena – Bill Gates and Malaysia.
No some of their pastors have tried. These pastors who wear expensive suits and ride luxury cars have said that it is the adherence with the principles of God that makes one rich. That’s how they explained Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and Norway. But that’s sophistry. That’s not the Bible.
Nigerian pentecostal doctrines may be spiritual but are hardly well philosophically grounded. They are never thoroughly well thought out. So they can’t be well explained.
So one pastor tells his congregation that prayer is the key. But his congregation watches prayerless people excel. And another pastor tells his congregation it’s hard work and his congregation wonders why they need to come to church at all. And neither pastor can explain Nigeria. No one can explain why with millions of pastors praying and working so hard we seem to be godforsaken.
Oh some have tried. They said that were it not for the intercessions and works of their ministries Nigeria would have become desolate.
Thats the point. They never feel embarrassed.
But there are those flowing in the middle, in an insipid orthodoxy.
They are fed tradition and cliches. They are fed spiritual powerlessness. They expect nothing. They hope they would make heaven if it exists because they mouth Jesus. But nothing about Jesus moderates their lives. They mock the ones that claim spirituality. They pray perfunctorily. They give offerings. They are not very sure of what they are doing. But they won’t worry about it. They are taking it easy.
The contradictions are stark. The conflicts are troubling. But there is an explanation. The apostles died violently. The earth must be a short passing phase. In the grand scheme of things the pains and joys here are ephemeral. Too ephemeral to count.
The church is in a fix because it’s preoccupied with earthly living. The church can only be relevant when it switches its preoccupation heavenwards.
The Churches must preach it. They must preach holiness. But they must preach love. They must preach miracles. But they must preach simple living and contentment. The churches must concentrate on Heaven. So human beings can live in moderation and love and focus on God and charity while here.
It’s a very short passing phase.