FEATURE ARTICLE

Dr. Tope Ade, D. Min., M.Div.Tuesday, March 21, 2017
apastortope@yahoo.com
Frisco, Texas, USA

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THE SELF-CENTERED CHURCH

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he Church, Ekklessia, is the assembly of believers of all races, ethnicity and gender. She is not a denomination, neither is she a location, the church is the people of God, who have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The church is the community of all true believers for all time.

It is not unusual to hear phrases like the American Church, the Nigerian Church, the European Church, the Asian Church, the Hispanic Church etc. I believe this adjective attached to the Church should describe the geographical location of that group of believers rather than the ethnicity (Rev. 2 & 3), although the latter is the case. These adjectives do hinder the dissemination of the gospel and the growth of the church.

Is the church still faithful to the biblical prescription that Jesus gave, "that they all may be one" (John 17:21)? Our ethnicities should enhance the gospel and not hinder it.

My focus today is on some of the issues observed in the "Nigerian Church." It is not unusual to hear words like "My blessing will be bigger than yours, my miracle will be bigger than yours, or my church is better than yours." In as much as the preachers are trying to encourage some form of interaction, I believe that it has imbibed a culture of greed and self-centeredness in the Nigerian Christian. We must at all times be faithful to remain within biblical parameters and not create habits that are in contrast to what Jesus purposed the church to be. Where does Paul's admonition to prefer one another stand? "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" (Romans 12:10).

I want to believe that the Nigerian culture is very much at play in this context. Have we ever wondered why we would rather become missionaries in more developed countries with some level of comfort than go to an underdeveloped nation? Our biblical ecclesiology must be rooted in the Holy Scriptures and not from our cultural missiology. Have we easily forgotten that Christ laid down His life for the church and served the church? He submitted to the church, His bride by laying down His life sacrificially.

Are we so blinded by lack, poverty, greed and ignorance; that we have allowed our culture to lead us into doctrinal errors?

Would it hurt if I choose not ask God for anything for myself but to commit to agreeing with my neighbor in prayers that God intervenes on his/her behalf? Job did not pray for his friends because he was expecting God to bless him, but he prayed for them because God asked him to and he saw that their spiritual need was greater than his. Job could have refused to pray for his friends because his own physical need was greater than theirs, but he knew that the knowledge of God was more important than material things; but God who rewards acts of self-less love and faithfulness, rewarded Job by restoring him.

Do yourself a favor, when next the preacher asks you to boast to your neighbor that your blessing will be bigger than his, tell your neighbor that "Neighbor, my desire for you is that God blesses you and grants the desires of your heart according to His will and I will rejoice with you."

Jesus Christ is our unique example; He is the Selfless Savior. He left His glory to dwell in our midst and laid down His life for us so that we could partake in His life on this earth and thereafter. Be an imitator of Christ!

Shalom

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