In the Church today, we are saddled with the wrong values and priorities; our value is no more on the story line or the story of our lives but on success and prosperity. The more you don’t have the success and the prosperity defined by the worldview (which has crept into the church), the more you shy away from God, not knowing if God has endorsed you or not. The focus has changed because everyone is looking to give one testimony or the other and people around will also be drawn to you by the testimonies you give. The moment your testimony is negative, people seem to draw away from you and you are therefore seen as one who isn’t “blessed” by God.
Many Pastors in today’s Pentecostal settings are also crazy about success, prosperity to mention a few; so much that growing to become a mega-church becomes their vision and aim. They have allowed the world (worldly church) and what seems to be the norm, turn their attention away from what God has called us to do, into doing something else. When you don’t have some certain number of people in your congregation, you are not regarded as a mega-pastor or a successful pastor. In some quarters, when you don’t own a private jet, drive some particular brand of car or live in a particular mansion in a government reserved area, you were not considered to be a pastor to reckon with.
The only way to let people know about all your acquisitions is to boast about them in your messages; something in your message must serve as a reason for the mention of the places you have travelled to, the car you drive (or private jet), the many stewards you have around you, to mention a few. Some go to the extent of mentioning how much gold their wives wear, how many attendants they have and the schools their children attend just to let whoever is hearing know that they have ‘arrived’.
When I was growing up as a Christian, the fad in town then was becoming a Bishop; many pastors wanted to become a bishop and the criteria was that, you had to live in your own house (not a rented apartment or flat); you had to be on television once or twice a week; you must have more than two other branches of your church; you had to own a jeep and another car plus you had to have built your own place of worship and have many young aspiring pastors call you their “father-in-the-lord”. When you fail to acquire all these and more, you couldn’t be ordained a Bishop. So when a pastor then was introduced as a “Bishop”, you inevitably knew that the works were there also. The bar has been raised today and it’s a fad for the building of universities and acquiring of private jets. It is meant to separate the big boys from the rookies in the business.
Rather than run after God and His Word, we’ve resulted to running after these pastors with their many slogans and followed their many steps to how they got to where they are and beyond, only to find out later that it was an exercise in futility. We have left the seeking God for ourselves and followed blindly the many steps. When we don’t seem to get the results we expect, we begin to blame ourselves thinking we have missed one step or the other. We begin to retrace our steps because we have missed out on one or two processes because indirectly we have been baptized with the same spirit of lust that these pastors have. We want this and we want that and are never satisfied or content.
When we read our bibles then, we were not reading to understand the story but to bring out scriptures that supported our desires and lusts whether they are out of context or not. We just wanted to get things and the Will of God for us became secondary. We unknowingly twisted the story of God out of shape; we changed the plot to accommodate how we (from our limited perspectives) want our lives to turn out. Anything that sprang up from the BIBLE, that sounded negative were easily discarded regardless of whether they were true or not. We followed men thinking we were following God or because we were convinced by what we saw them acquire, that God must have given the things to them. Our hearts longed for the material possessions too; we wanted those things at any price no matter what was intended by God for us according to the original script.
People who had problems or challenges at those times were looked down on; they were seen as people who had no “faith-in-god”; they were seen as people who prayed and their prayers were never answered by God; they were seen as people who were not favored or blessed by God. Some that were sick, couldn’t admit that they were sick because fellow believers would see you as not having the where withal to be healed because we have heard a preacher say “he has never been to the hospital since the day he received Jesus into his life”. Medical Doctors were seen as devil advocates; some even ruled out medications or the use of drugs for the said sickness (es). I had a friend then who broke her prescription glasses and had to send a message home to her parents requesting they should send her another pair because she couldn’t read or go for classes (she couldn’t see properly).
Yet on reading through the bible and most especially, the story of the disciples, it was a different scenario. Their places of abode were never mentioned; their families were never mentioned; how they lived and what they ate was never mentioned. We never read or heard about the so many church branches that each had to themselves; what car they drove and the many more we look for in today’s setting. Rather, we read about the many problems, challenges and the troubles they passed through.
We read of the many times Peter missed the plot when Jesus spoke with His disciples; we read of when Jesus rebuked him; we read of the so many times Jesus told them that they had no faith; we read of how the disciples deserted Jesus when he was picked up to be crucified; we read of how Peter followed Him at a distance denying to people that he never knew Jesus. We read of how they thought it was the end of what they thought Jesus represented and how they all went back to their fishing business. We read of how Judas betrayed Him with a kiss and how he thought he had done something wrong and went to hang himself, committing suicide. Thomas should not be left out in this; even when the Lord appeared to some of them and Thomas had not seen Him, he refused to believe that Christ was raised from the dead and not until Jesus appeared to him, told him to feel where His side was pierced, Thomas wouldn’t believe. They were all human beings like we are today. Please permit me to omit the Apostle Paul and the plethora of mishaps he went through pointing to the fact that he was also human.
Let us therefore imagine that these stories from the disciples were never mentioned in the Good Book, how would we have ever learned about the story of Christianity. In the same way, God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure; He is working out our stories as we walk with Him so that people behind can learn in our “bad” (as you may want to call it) and challenging stories so as to see God in a different dimension and way.
We have rather become a generation having a culture of quick-fixes, feel-better, we-want-it-now-and-we-are-entitled-to-have-it-now, and make-life-work-for-us; we have gotten these enshrined in our hearts as if that was why Jesus came to die for us. We have become what the scriptures have not said about us. We have believed (are still believing) in these lies and have become and are becoming what a Christian is not meant to be. We have degraded the human spirit with the so many distractions we have introduced into Christianity.
Larry Crabb said in one of his books that, “if we assume that Christianity means satisfaction in this life of all your desires, including the ones that lie deepest in your heart, then you live as no one was meant to live; you demand satisfaction; you live for it; you feel entitled to it. You become incapable of real love, only self-centered passion”.
A lot is learnt when things don’t turn out the way we expect them to.