I looked him straight in the eye and told him, “leaving your church doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get into heaven, we will both meet there and thank God you wouldn’t be at the gate to determine who comes in.”
We had helped start off the church and served faithfully, however, we were leaving the city for another city. And though we had first thought we would attend the headquarters of our mother church, we decided otherwise and because we did so, our pastor told us not to come to his church anymore pending our departure. He said this to us, even though we were tithe-paying, matured Christians and diligent workers in the church.
We left and I have had no remorse whatsoever about leaving that church because with time and from a distance, I had noticed a lot of things I mightn’t have been able to overlook. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it wouldn’t have worked out in the end.
I have been an adherent of Christ for a long time now, over 30 years and I can say that I love God with all my heart and I am very hesitant to consciously go against His will for me. In all these years, I have seen doctrines come and go, moves of the spirit rise and ebb and through it all, I have noticed that the character of God has remained unchanged in the times and seasons. As a young Christian, I was zealous about my beliefs, judgmental in so many ways, quick to condemn and often viewed life in black and white. Nowadays I am more hesitant to judge; more tolerant and forgiving of others because I am more aware of my humanity and the abundant grace of God towards me.
Right from an early age I have always believed in the equality of all men irrespective of their colour, social status and race. I have always used Mr/Mrs and Sir/Ma for people of lower social class than I and believe that the good things in life are not for the rich alone. I have never been afraid to speak my mind irrespective of my audience, cannot be cowed or manipulated and abhor partiality and injustice.
For instance, I have wondered severally at the stance of the church in America during the years of slavery and racial discrimination and I personally believe the church (especially the white ones ) did not do enough to end slavery especially in the light of the fact that many churches justified it from the scriptures. I have been shocked at the silence of most church leaders in the Black lives matter movement. I have been saddened at the church’s wholehearted adoption of and identification with Trump and QAnon because as far as they are concerned he is sent of God and there are prophecies to prove it. I am dismayed and ashamed at the stance of the Pentecostals on the provisions of the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), perplexed at the lies, half-truths, conspiracy doctrines and uncouth language emanating from the pulpit in recent times.
It is a sad day in Christianity when a pastor can call someone ‘a bastard’ ( by the way under the Nigerian constitution, there is no illegitimate child and so no one is a bastard) because he insults someone you hold high, when curses are placed on people in a place where blessings are invoked, when self-serving sermons are preached in order to ensure the other person’s submission, it is downright frightening when your parishioners urge you on whilst you misbehave and no one can call you to order because you’re a G.O!
The God that we say we serve doesn’t believe in demeaning any man. He values Man because he is made in His image, He is not partial and He causes good and evil to come upon all for He is the God of all flesh. He gave us all a free will and even though we go against His will, He doesn’t coerce us against our will. He doesn’t not insult, pull down or devalue us neither does He Lord it over us.
But it is not so with some of our Men of God, I have heard of pastors that you kneel to talk to, that you dare not look in the eyes, defy or have a contrary opinion; of pastors choosing and /or vetoing who people should or should not marry, what sex styles are godly or devilish, who abuse and talk to people rudely.
I have had cause to write to a church next door to my house threatening to call the police on them after several sleepless nights because they were having a 30 day vigil.
Before you come for my jugular, let me say that pastors and people in the ministry are a gift to the church, they should be honored not revered, respected not feared, loved not worshipped. Their ministry is highly important and necessary but they should not take the place of God in our lives.
We cannot preach love, redemption and the fruits of the Spirit and turn around to abuse, curse and disrespect people who are the most precious things to God. I am of the firm belief that Christianity is about developing good character and being Christlike but I must say that the actions of some Christians and their leaders is abysmal and because of them the name of Christ is brought into disrepute.
But it need not be that way we can change our mindset to welcome everyone that graces our doorstep, begin to see value in the poorest of the poor in our midst, treat everyone with great respect and value their time and money, refrain from manipulating people in whatever form and in every area of their lives. Only then can we be said to truly love and respect one another.
Men of God are not infallible, they are human, they make mistakes, they are subject to wrong emotions and when they do so they should be corrected and called to order and should have the grace and humility to apologize if found to be wrong.