By Dr. Chukwudumebi Nkemcho Nwaokobia Snr.(Formerly known and called Chris Nwaokobia Jnr.)
The multiple contradictions that define the Nigerian space compel variegated thoughts and opinions that leave the discerning wondering what kind of people we are. We surely are a people like no other. We are a people that defy every thesis in proactive and deep thinking. We are a people that celebrate the inane, the profane and the mundane.
We are a people desirous of revolutionary change or so it seems but we applaud a Clergy that is profligate, a clergy that adores and worships those who have looted our collective patrimony, a clergy that opens their pulpits and their so-called houses of ‘God’ to the cultist, and a clergy that reveres and adulates the impious and the godless politician that has left our economy bare-chested and our people hungry, what a sad conundrum.
I am aware that the new Pope of the Catholic Communion is a Jesuit, and I am enamored and touched by the humility and commitment of the new Pope to the cause of the poor, the indigent and the downtrodden. I found the teachings of JESUS THE CHRIST complete in the Jesuit teachings of humility, poverty, frugality, love and brotherhood, great to know that all humanity after all has not veered down the sickening path of lucre and mammon as the quotient of divine blessedness and munificence.
Ever and anon I read the Pentecostal Evangelicals and their General Overseers regale us with the ‘my God is not a poor God’ refrain, and I wonder what God the early Church and the Disciples of Christ worshipped after the advent of Jesus Christ. I wonder what theology today’s Evangelicals profess and how the message of the Kingdom has in the present day degenerated into food, drinks, opulence, mansion building, primitive accumulation of wealth, and egocentricity.
A few days ago certain events in Nigeria compelled these thoughts, the one was the increase in the fees of a Christian University Babcock University, and the second was the opening of a Church Auditorium by Mr. President. I find the two scenarios incomprehensible when placed on the crucible of true Christian teachings. Were Jesus here would he allow his church auditorium on any ground to be inaugurated by a Political head or President? Should a school built with offerings and donations from the laity be so expensive the poor and the indigent cannot afford?
I have wondered why we are able to so clearly vilify thieving politicians and wish them the worst whereas those who should like Caesar’s wife be above board are excused in the wanton looting of church till, they own private jets, drive the best automobiles, build expensive schools, live in mansions and lead profligate life styles whilst the ignorant, the gullible, the uninformed and the hapless applaud them as men of God, sad!
I know that leadership across centuries and decades gone were often scared and mindful of the Clergy which stood on the side of the poor and the oppressed. I know that Jesus The Christ was a non-conformist and a thorn in the flesh of the draconic leaders and the Pharisaical Clergy of his time. I know that a Clergy that fraternizes, kowtows to, genuflects before and patronizes leaders who are not responsible and responsive to the demands of the people can ipso facto not be seen as Christ-like and does not qualify as Godly, and I know that a righteous Clergy is that which makes the socio-religious cum spiritual wellbeing of the people the summum bonum of her faith and call.
Billions of people all over the world worship across sects and denominations. Billions are desirous of better lives for themselves regardless of the constraints that make their neighbours cry. Billions call upon a God they do not see forgetting that Jesus put a lie to their religion when he admonished that ‘you cannot say you love the God that you do not see when you cannot show love to the man/brother you see’ but this preachment to the modern day Clergy is antique and anathema as they run their churches for profit and see nothing wrong with the way the nation is badly governed.
Sadly modern Pentecostalism juxtaposed with the sacred and salient teachings of Christ, the Apostles and the custodians of the early church is a fundamental departure from the TRUTH. God is love and any gospel, message, sect, order and or religion that are not predicated on true love and selflessness is Godless, and so are the conceited and greedy Clergies of the modern church. Their Gospel has been mammonised and their avowals politicized such that the CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN) according to Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah has become ‘the praying wing of the Ruling Party’.
I must say for the purposes of emphasis that the Jesuit Pope, Pope Francis the present head of close to two billion Catholics who yet rides in a bus and forbids the panache of the Papacy shows profound example of eclectic Christian humility, and his immense love for the poor is reminiscent of Jesus’ and underscores the beauty of true religion; on the converse side we have Private Jets owning and Bentley and Rolls Royce driving Pentecostal preachers whose flock are populated by the poor and the homeless, they give stipends to charity and build schools the poor cannot attend. They are in cahoots with the oppressors of the people in tendencies, proclivities and mannerism, leading a life of opulence and profligacy and never taking populist positions in their preachment, sad!
They grandstand as men of ‘God’ preaching about their god as a rich god, except their god is mammon would they be right, or was Paul’s, Peter’s, John’s et al and the God of the First generation Christian church a poor God? Egocentric, banal, profane, greedy and godless men hover all over the place as men of ‘God’ deceiving the unenlightened and the miracle seeking greedy worshiper who unfortunately would ask me ‘who are you to judge’? Sadly they forget the story of the seven sons of Skiver who profiteered in the name of God until luck ran against them.
Did Paul not say in the scriptures that the spiritual man judges all things? Did Paul not criticize Peter’s pretensions before the Gentiles? Is the Bible not the template of the Christian faith? My heart goes out in pity of the gullible followers of the men of mammon masquerading in this clime as men of God, men who court the oppressors of the people, men who allow insensitive rulers to mount their pulpits and inaugurate the so-called houses of ‘God’ built with donations, tithes and offerings that obtains from a hapless laity; and theirs is the display of opulence with repugnant relish, men of ‘God’ who repudiate the Christ entrenched tenet of meekness which as it were is sine qua non with true religion and the summum bonum of faith.
These men are the chief reason a Nigerian Spring appears a far way off as their gullible flock swallows their perfidious inveigle and do not see the reason to challenge the same leaders their Bishops worship, sad! They preach that the scripture enjoins them to respect and honour rulers but I know that Christ would reprimand unjust rulers.
They are deliberately oblivious of the fact that those who disobey unjust leaders and show a commitment to make things right are indeed the true men and servants of God typical of the Prophets of old and the Apostles of the risen Christ. The lucre crazy Nigerian Clergy are the chief cause of the inertia that the Nigerian state presently experiences because rather than encourage the emergence of a change generation they activate through their homilies a lazy and a miracle seeking follower ship.
Rather than helping the excavation of a proactive generation that will escalate the call for a new leadership paradigm in Nigeria, they snuff out the fire when they welcome to their churches and gatherings the impenitent oppressors of the people, thus causing ceaseless distractions that by Jove procrastinates the needed change, sad.
The picture is sickening and saddening, and the coloration melancholic because those who should champion the cause of the people like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, Archbishop Desmond Tutu et al did would rather serve the table of looters in this clime and in welcoming their oppressors into the houses of worship distract the vehicle of change and desecrate the temple of ‘God’. However my faith in the unyielding force of change is yet unscathed, I pray that in the delusive effort of the Political Clergy to hold down the truth the rulers and their apparatchiks do not make peaceful change impossible.
May God bless Nigeria.