This is the second part to this post. The first is available here
Nigerian Christians, for instance, fail to insist on a one thousand pursuit of what the Bible truly says because materialism is so tightly bound up in our culture that to let go of it is too much of a sacrifice. We love money so much, we love being flamboyant, we love flaunting our wealth – which often is actually not our own wealth, but rather the country’s wealth. So instead of refusing to comply with the widespread environment of giving bribes, kickbacks etc, because that would entail too much sacrifice, Christians actually go along with. Not only do they go along with it, some supposed pastors actually promote it from their pulpits. I have actually been in the congregation while a pastor bragged about giving a bribe, and getting advantageous treatment regarding his National Youth Service placement, although I don’t think that it occurred to him that it could be considered a bribe. So corruption continues to reign, and arguably get worse and worse, despite the huge number of Christians – educated, intelligent Christians who could feasibly be making a difference. And because corruption continues to reign, then the whole country remains in disarray, and because the whole country remains in disarray, then you continue to get whole populations which are decimated by issues which in the West would be so small, and would be dealt with in an instant.
Let’s talk about hmm, Ebola. How could a single person, who himself was an Ebola doctor, entering into Lagos, manage to introduce it to a whole population? Is it that Lagos/Nigeria have never heard of Ebola measures? Why could they not take the simple steps undertaken in the States when that missionary doctor returned there from Africa also suffering from Ebola? It will not be because the money was not there to start with. It will be because, somewhere down the line, someone misappropriated the funds for the necessary measures to deal with Ebola and such diseases, into some Swiss bank account, which is why there is now the risk of this disease spreading through the Lagos population, even though there was plenty of advance warning.
Another question: why did they not just implement border controls? I’m sure that ultimately, the answer would be the same. So once again, the net result is that an African population would be devastated by a disease, African lives would be lost, and it reinforces the idea that African lives, and by extension Black lives, are cheap.
Doing some good?
The widespread culture of corruption is one reason why I get so angry about the prevalence of the prosperity gospel in Nigerian Christianity. In so far as the prosperity gospel promotes and validates the love of money, it is emphatically NOT the Bible. It endorses the very opposite of what the Bible teaches, that the love of money is the root of all evil. And yet, when I am discussing with African Christians, I have absolutely no qualms about identifying individual ministries which to me are “prosperity gospel” and thereby can be completely discounted as truly being of Christ. I will identify the countless parts of the Bible that these people contradict in their teachings. And yet I come across this mentality time after time: yes people will concede that the individual in question disobeys or undermines many things that the Bible emphasises. But because he mentions Jesus or God now and then, talks about salvation (not through grace or faith, but rather through paying enough money to his church), people will say to me: “But Tosin, he’s doing some good!” – and therefore it is acceptable to continue going to that church.
NOOOOOOOOOO! God insists on our 1000% – or nothing. When I hear people making the “doing some good” argument, this is how I actually read it.
“I can’t bring myself to make the sacrifice of going to a church which is actually relentlessly founded on the true word of God….” Many of these churches do exist, however they are small, even tiny, because the pastors preach the truth of the Bible rather than what people want to hear. Because they are small they cannot offer the same social life as the bigger prosperity gospel churches. Additionally, because they do not emphasise money to the same extent as the prosperity gospel churches AND because they simply do not have as many people to pay into the funds of the church, they cannot offer the same slick entertainment experiences as these prosperity gospel churches.
“…So I’m going to sit here and make excuses and hold on to the “doing some good” argument!” And these are Christians who are as experienced in the faith as I am, who frankly should know better.
The prosperity gospel is utterly deadly. Instead of presenting the challenge of true faith, rather it simply repackages to people what they already worship (money) and presents it to them as worship of God. And then it lulls people into a false sense of security, as many of these people sincerely think that they are serving God, and that they are on track to get to heaven. So by continuing to validate these false churches through your attendance, not only are you failing to invest your time, effort and money into promoting the true Gospel, but you are also actually investing these very things to support and promote this huge lie which actually undermines the true Gospel. And yet you will continue sitting there, making excuses.
Do you not appreciate that the faith has to be a thousand percent – or nothing? Do you not see that it is the cumulative effect of all of us holding onto the truth and insisting on it, that will make a cumulative difference in our nation and in our continent? And here is the thing: all these Christians are so lovely. So gentle, so much gentler than I am. And yet the Bible says that evil prospers when good people do nothing. And if we are all sitting here, refusing to do anything, then surprise surprise, evil flourishes unchecked in our supposedly Christian midst.
Finally, one humorous/annoying point that I would like to make is that even in struggling to make to to the West, borrowing money, applying for visas etc – many of us Africans bring over the same corrupt practices that have debilitated Africa – and continue to practise the same things right here in the West – even those of us who profess to be Christians. Do we not appreciate that if everyone did that, then the West would just be turned into Africa and you would simply recreate here what you are so desperately running away from in Africa? If there is anything special that makes the West superior to Africa, that makes us all want to come over and live here, it is not in the soil, or in the water, or in the geography of the region. Rather it is in the people, and the systems that they have set in place, and the fact that they largely adhere to them. Yes of course there is some corruption here in the West too. However like a healthy body can tolerate some small level of sickness and carry on functioning so also a generally healthy country can tolerate a small level of corruption without totally falling apart. So then, if you are going to come over to the West, then do so fully and leave those deadly practices beyond you! Or here’s an idea – why don’t take over what we can of integrity and holiness and truly purpose to make our continent great? Why don’t we actually start paying true attention to the book we carry around with us and actually apply what it says? Let’s spend the resources of the country for the country, build the infrastructure, invest into the economy…24 hour electricity…water and sanitation…education. Then who knows, instead of people like Michael Brown staying in the States to be shot at, they might actually aspire to come over to Africa for the sake of the better quality of life that it offers Black people, and everyone else too. Might that be an idea?! 😉
58 “Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Photo of aerial view of Africa from Pixabay