Memo To Jet Pastors: We Have Cause To Be Uneasy By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Nigeria is on the wrong road. The spiral is clearly downward and time is running out for Nigeria. And if that is the case, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on. When you know you’re sick, you will listen to the doctor.
Nigeria has become enemy-occupied territory. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top of our political leadership.
Then we wonder how and why we continue to slide back into misery and ruin. In real life, people are cruel for one or two reasons – either because they are sadists, or for the sake of something they are going to get out of it – money, or power, or safety.
Political history of nations has shown that in the midst of chaos, turmoil, persecution, and oppression such like Nigeria is now engulfed, the last two institutions – the court and the church – are the last hope of the oppressed.
Unfortunately, the two institutions in Nigeria have been corrupted and compromised. The acquiescence of Nigerian courts is not all that surprising or disappointing because the quality of the people on the bench reflects the leadership quality and vision of those who appointed them.
But the church has no excuse. As a writer, I believe it is my solemn duty to elevate deliberate provocation on your silence to a higher level on the tough times poor Nigerians are going through because of some obvious reasons.
First, your Theology of Prosperity has fueled a revival of materialism among Christians. In the Biblical parlance, you are a unique new breed of fishers’ of men and women.
Second, you command a loyal, obedient, and submissive huge flock that the ruling class cannot afford to disregard or dismiss in their political calculations.
Lastly and most important, as spiritual fathers and or advisers to the president, governors and other senior political appointees, you exert a strong spiritual hold on them so much that if you asked the president or the governors to jump, they’ll ask you how high.
Do we have to suffer too much from that which is evil? Do we have to continue living in crucible of morbid fear? Do we have to wait for corruption to put an end to Nigeria?
Your spiritual and political silent stare concerning the exploitation and oppression of the poor by the tyrannical few in government is unbiblical. “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold,” Edmund Burke warned us, “is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
We have watched and waited and wailed over the events in Nigeria in these dark days. Nigerians have watched in horror and fear, waited with dread, and wailed because they are timid to stop the madness.
Look at your congregation and look at the country at large. It’s a story of people who struggled as life died in their hearts, breaking them.
Your silence and neutrality and indeed your fellowship with the oppressive ruling class means you’re committing crimes of conscience.
Let the truth be more than politics and justice more important to you than pride. Now is the time to shatter your self-imposed silence into a thousand irretrievable pieces.
Your callous indifference therefore is frightfully unfair and is a cause for us to be uneasy. It is wrong of you to choose to lie down when the situation demands that you stand up.
Your continuing indulgence and participation in the crimes against the poor must stop. You have allowed and assisted brutes and brutality a place in the governance of our people.
Now, this is not the time for you to vacillate on a choice. This is the time for you to stand up, so we can identify which side you’re on – the oppressors or the poor.
Today is the moment. This is the chance for you to choose the right side. God is holding back to give you that chance. It will not last forever. You must take it or leave it – now!
So far, by your action you have remained neutral in the oppression of the poor. You have become willing allies of the government to further oppress the poor.
Time and again, you have proved non-combatant in both theological controversy and political debate which the situation in Nigeria demands. Use your God-given influence for good.
The Bible contains numerous warnings about the danger of false prophets, those who pretend to represent God but who actually are his enemies that are out to destroy his people. God is angry!
Remember, you’re surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses, the writer of Hebrews reminds you. As pastors, you are meant for better things. The path is well trod by the Old Testament models and martyrs, whose faith and perseverance are constant source of encouragement.
In them we discover a liberating truth that faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. The Christian life would be a breeze if it were only a sprint – a hundred-yard dash of endurance, a quarter mile of patience, half a lap of steadfastness.
Unfortunately, that’s just not case. The Christian life is more like a marathon. For Moses, it turned out to be a 120-year “hike” from Egypt to Midian, back to Egypt, and on to Moab.
For Noah, it involved a century-long shipbuilding project under God’s watchful eye. For Abraham, it meant a wait of 25 years for a promised son. No sprint to be sure, but an exercise in endurance.
And it was their enduring faith over the long haul that provided these heroes of the Old Testament with an enduring testimony that continues right up to the present.
More can be learned from life’s trials than from its triumphs. James reminds you with ringing clarity that a faith that produces no change in action or attitude is really no faith at all.
Partiality, neglect of the poor, greed, lies, exploitation, unholy alliance with thee oppressors of the poor, and a proud attitude all are inconsistent with the royal law of love that Christ proclaimed.
If you’re the real pastors that you project yourselves to be, don’t just preach God’s words, you must do what it says (James 1:22). Lest you forget, I’ll like to remind you of your calling – I mean those of you that were really called by God.
Fighting on behalf of the poor can cause you to grow not grumble. Majority of you no doubt, believe the injustices against the poor should be taken to God in form of fasting, prayers, and night vigils. But as you well know, prayer without action has never worked.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail April 16, 1963 reminds you that “We are caught in inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… one has the moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Socrates, the Athenian Greek philosopher believed it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from bondage of myths and half truths to the “unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal.”
Seize the plight of Nigeria’s poor as opportunity to create the right tension in the country that would force the ruling class to end the persecution and pauperization of the poor.
As Peter declared, in your everyday lives, your character and conduct should be above reproach as you imitate the Holy One who called you. He argued further that since you’re God’s special people, your lives should be marked by submission to others.
Challenge and resist “the errors of these wicked people,” said Peter. Don’t reject the great principle which was the very foundation of reforms – that the word of God is the full-sufficient rule of faith and practice.
Arm yourselves with a healthy fear of God and a robust commitment to do what is right. Listen to Paul: “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
Don’t fall into erring guide and substitute the changeable for uncertain standard of your own feelings and impressions.
Don’t follow the footsteps of some prophets of old and noon day pastors in our midst by misleading or hindering few honest Nigerians who have been on the vanguard for necessary reforms in our country. Please Join them, lead the way, fight with them, and speak truth to power!
Don’t deceive the poor with the Gospel that they should submit to inhuman treatment and obey their oppressors. Don’t quench the fire of rebellion required to free the marginalized and the poverty haunted Nigerians.
You will agree that many of the so called men of God many a times through their behavior and ungodly acts, have revealed themselves as men of unsound judgment and undisciplined passions while claiming to be specially illuminated from heaven.
They constantly seek to deceive the poor and lead them to call sin righteous, and righteous sin. Men who are but agents of Satan are praised and flattered, and even looked upon as martyrs, while those who should be respected and sustained for their fidelity to God are left to stand alone, under suspicion and distrust.
Counterfeit holiness and spurious sanctification form the framework of their deception. Even laymen are better acquainted with the Bible teachings than these self appointed men of God.
God had said, “Let there be light,” because these self proclaimed men of God joined the oppressors in oppressing the poor, they are keeping the poor in perpetual darkness.
One could easily imagine what a vast different change might have been obtained if Adeboye, T.B. Joshua, Ashimolowo, Oyakhilome, Oritsejafor, Oyedepo, and so very many others of your Pentecostal group sincerely desired, worked, and suffered for change for Nigeria which might have been.
The Protestant Robert Olivetan, the translator of the first French Protestant Bible and a cousin of John Calvin; said there are but two religions in the world: “The one class of religions are those which men have invented, in all of which man saves himself by ceremonies …”
The other, according to Olivetan, “is the one religion which is revealed in the Bible and which teaches man to look for salvation solely from the free grace of God.” By not taking an activist’s role in fighting the corrupt and repressive system in Nigeria, that brings you under the first class of religion.
“Every Christian is to become a little Christ,” says C.S. Lewis. “The purpose of becoming a Christian,” continued Lewis “is simply nothing less.” If you abdicate the role your position thrusts on you, it means you’re trying to evade a good cause sanctioned by God.
Christ says, “Give me all.” Hand over the outfit of your desires – comfort, luxury, pleasure, money, women, selfishness, greed, wickedness, and silence – and Christ will give you a new self instead. “In fact,” says Christ, “I will give you myself: my own shall become yours.”
Come out of your palaces and join the crusade for the soul of our country. We are in this together. Sure, the process will be long and painful, but that’s what we are in for.