Friday, September 21, 2018
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Bonn, Germany

Continued from Part 2

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)

When religious leaders get involved in elections, it is usually with a reactionary social agenda (Elizabeth Joan Smith)

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans 7:14-15)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23)

No matter how powerful our political and religious leaders think they are, they are as dust before the immense and implacable forces of history and progress. I just hope that they don't make too much of a mess or take too many more people down with them (Alan Moore)

eal religious leaders should always be ready to attend to the spiritual needs of their followers and not to milk them dry. A real religious leader should be a shepherd of God's sheep, and that's why the Bible, in John 21:17, writes that Jesus told Peter, "Shepherd (feed) My sheep."

La Vista Church of Christ wrote, in its blog, that Jesus' sheep are all Christians, both Jews, and Gentiles (John 10:14-16), meaning in present times, people of all faiths. Jesus is the Shepherd and we follow him. He said: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). We aren't talking about physical sheep, so also the action of feeding is not a physical one. Jesus is instructing Peter to give spiritual nourishment. It is an imagery God has used often: "And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding" (Jeremiah 3:15).

As I've noted earlier, so many religious leaders are not behaving the way God or Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed asks them to, because, they did not have the calling. For any person to be a good religious leader, he or she must be ready to minister to the people all day long, teach the ignorant, heal the sick, counsel the lost, and pray for the needy. The religious leaders must be ready to give to those with nothing to give in return. They should be ready to always give sacrificially - to help those who are oppressed, to be forgiving, to show kindness and mercy, and not to be extravagant. They must represent God and draw others to Him. When their purpose is for God, as Micca Campbell wrote, they will find a treasure greater than money, recognition or comfort. They must develop a heart of gratitude for their job and find a purpose that satisfies, even if it's not their dream job.

Nigerian religious leaders preach one thing and practice another, and in fact, one can equally say, without fear of contradiction, that the corruption among some of our religious leaders is nearing the corruption among people in the political circle. According to Dr. Aland Mizell, the lifestyle of religious leaders is evidence of their corrupt practices. Politics in the church is worse than anywhere else, because, even secularists expect better. Some of the religious leaders are running the church according to politics, not based on the Holy Spirit.

The role of a religious leader is to direct people on how to worship God and how, to be honest, but some of the religious leaders need to be free of corruption before they could help to fight corruption. The religious leaders take what belongs to the church and appropriate it thereby depriving others. Religion in Nigeria has become a dirty word in the eyes of many, because of the corruption and hypocrisy that it often breeds. It is true we are human, and, as such, we are prone to make mistakes, and even religious leaders are subject to desire, lusts, and temptations. But we do expect our spiritual leaders to set an example of morality and ethics, but some of them are not infallible.

Even some followers portray themselves like their leaders- that they are holy, perfect, and chosen, yet, like their leaders, they demand that people listen to them and respect them the way they want. Their egos are bigger than their God. It is impossible for spiritual leaders to help others when they are the problem. The church or mosque needs renewal in the individual congregations, and that renewal begins with the followers. The church or mosque cannot reach out by not seeking spiritual growth. Envy, greed, pride, and indifference to the needs of others are the causes of the problem; the solution is to have the kind of fellowship in which they can speak truth to each other not politics.

Rev. Oladimeji (Ladi) Thompson, the founder/Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Living Waters Unlimited Church, and, the international coordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-government, non-denominational organization established to provide succor for Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus, said, according to the Vanguard, that unless a deliberate collaboration between the government, the Church, and the Mosque was put in place to rid the nation of corruption, there is not much hope for Nigeria. Hear him:

"I believe the Church should be the light of the world. And once we vacate the role we are supposed to play, the salt can no longer be salt, the light can no longer shine, and there will be the perpetuation of poverty and shame. If we do our job right, we may end up saving somebody's life. Let's call a spade a spade. All that these public relations churches are doing all over the place is to divert attention away from where the real problem is. There's a conspiracy between the church, the mosque, and politics to loot the nation. The offering has hugely dropped in most churches and mosques. Everybody now finds out that the whole of Nigeria is run on corruption money. Let me tell you point blank, people are saying they want corruption back, and the people who are leading the chorus are the religious leaders" (more looting will bring more donations to churches and mosques).

The point is that the religious leaders have been preaching and teaching that people should live rightly, think rightly and act rightly when they themselves are living immorally - the religious leaders who should be guiding the flock to make haven, are the one who will end up in hell.

Many Nigerian religious leaders are now politicians as they've moved away from the work of God - from the spiritual realm into politics, and are now using the pulpit as a campaign platform for any candidate of their choice. A point reiterated by Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto, who, according to the vanguard, said that religious leaders in the country are "as divided as the people" and "seduced by the power of politicians." He added that the clergy is allowing "politics to corrupt the sacred spaces of religion." In his words: "Thus, we have lost our voices and no longer seem to have the capacity to interrogate power, as we are called to do".

Kukah said religious leaders in the country - which is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims - have been using their churches and mosques as partisan platforms. As elections are coming in 2019, Kukah called on all religious leaders to avoid "the temptation of being seduced by filthy lucre and power for personal or any other gain." In his words: "We must seek the collective welfare of our people, and develop a culture of neutrality that can inspire the confidence in our people in the power of religion to change society so that the common good is always sought and promoted."

The corruption that has eaten deep into every fabric of life in Nigeria has not spared the churches and mosques which are supposed to be the last bulwarks against the malfeasance. If the men and women of God are clean, the political class would have been afraid to engage in corruption, so brazenly. But, the politicians, knowing that they have cheerleaders in our religious leaders, continue to fleece the nation of its wealth. Instead of the religious leaders flushing out criminals from the Houses of God, they've been accommodating them. I think other religious leaders should learn from the Archbishop, Methodist Archdiocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Bar. C.N. Edeh, who said that any of his church members that are prosecuted for corrupt practices, will be excommunicated. Someone, according to the Pulse, rightly noted that this is a great idea since it would discourage other members from being corrupt. He added that he thinks other churches should embrace this so that corruption in Nigeria can finally be stopped.

If most Nigeria religious leaders have been living unsullied, uncorrupted, and undebased life, and, have been imbuing their followers with such spirits, crimes would have diminished greatly, and Nigeria would have been a better place. Pastor Paul Peter of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ondo Province 1, reiterated this point when, according to the Pulse, he noted that Christians are expected to preach the good thoughts of God to the society and live righteously. He said "There are now different means by which individuals can convey the gospel of Jesus Christ to others", adding that if all members of the RCCG, for instance, walked in accordance with the commandments of God, the society would have been transformed.

Just as I point out in the preceding part of this article, that our religious leaders no longer question the source of unexplained wealth, Pastor Paul Peter urged church leaders to question any of their members found to be living above his or her income. He added further that God will never accept any offering from corrupt practices, because, He does not support anything that is unclean. In his words: "God frowned at wickedness perpetrated by the people of Nineveh and warned them against looming disaster for those who were disobedient and indulged in acts that do not glorify Him. Therefore, no one can please Him, for instance, by offering stolen money.''

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Akure, according to Pulse, the Pastor buttressed his claim with the Holy Bible, in the Book of Jonah, Chapter 1, Verses 1 and 2. According to him, the verses decry the high level of corrupt practices among the Christian congregation in their respective positions and professions today. Hear him:

"It is disheartening to see church leaders and Christians who occupy high offices and positions siphoning public funds. Christians must continuously adhere to Godly integrity, irrespective of their positions in the polity. Any deed contrary to the will of God amounts to corruption.''

Also, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, also pointed out how people have given sin a new name, when he said, "We have lost the sense of sin in this country. In fact, some people started calling it a miracle. They steal and say the miracle has happened. They go to church to go and do Thanksgiving for doing a wrong thing."

Let tolerate Obasanjo, once more, by taking only a good point he made, when he also expressed how worried he is about the corruption among the clergy in the country, by saying: "there are church leaders who "not only celebrate but venerate those whose sources of wealth are questionable. They accept gifts from just anybody without asking questions. This gives the impression that anything is acceptable in the house of God. There is no doubt that all our institutions have been tarnished by the brush of corruption". Obasanjo said, in a recent speech on the role of the Church in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, that even If the Church, as an institution, does not take bribes or get involved in other corrupt practices, but the behavior of some of our men of God leaves much to be desired."

It has gotten to the point that some of the Nigerian religious leaders are seeing themselves as a god, and are so influential that even presidents do kneel before them. The Pulse noted how Nigeria's Pentecostal Ministers became more powerful than the President. While the average citizen has lost faith in his or her leaders, Pentecostal ministers have assumed a higher authority. The more prominent of them like Adeboye are anointing presidents, a la Prophet Samuel.

To show that Nigerian religious leaders were indirectly responsible for corruption in Nigeria, the Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, shared an interesting theory on the role of religious leaders in politics. The Pulse quoted the Vanguard, as it reported that the Governor seems to hold Men of God responsible for the high level of corruption among politicians. In the governor's words: "When church and mosque want to do fundraising they will not look for people that are committed to the work of God, but rather politicians and people in power whose salary is not up to N500,000, to come and launch N50 million project. These same politicians and people in power, when they came to church late, Pastor will ask the congregation to stand up and clap for them, whereas the poor person that came early to church nobody recognizes him or her."

Those fake Nigerian religious leaders - the robbers in the Houses of God - should know that the hottest part of hell is reserved for them for deceiving their followers, for often trespassing where the angels and the holy ones will hate to go; for "cutting in the bush and running out on the road asking who did the cutting, and for being hypocrites. They must change their evil ways to avoid their impending destruction, because the Bible, in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, says: "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. "






Continued from Part 2