How strange is it that those who should have the greatest weapon of war, turn out to be the most fearful?
Few weeks ago on my way to work, I mounted a bike that left my trouser legs begging for a wash. On alighting I asked the driver for permission to use his rag to wipe my mud stains from my cloth. On finishing a middle aged man called my attention and said, “Next time use your own handkerchief.” When I inquired as to why he would suggest that, his response bordered on some fetish practices peculiar to the people of Western Nigeria (well, all of Nigeria if I may say, but I happened to be in the West).
This got me thinking.
It’s no news how deeply religious Nigerians can be. Irrespective of which gods are served, the average man would place him above all else. I believe this is the reason why despite Christianity being a foreign religion sold to Africans, we have become more faithful in adherence to biblical laws than any other race.My concerns however lie in whether or not we really believe in this “foreign God” that has been sold to us. We have an uncanny ability to turn to God when the going gets tough, or when our other options have been exhausted. But where does faith in His abilities come into our daily life?
The middle aged man I met had a Redeemers rubber bracelet on his wrist—indicating his affiliation to the Redeem Church or his belief in the God of Pastor Adeboye, the General Overseer–and his house like many others in this part of the world would have religious stickers gracing door posts and metal crucifix to keep out the demons (like wind chimes); yet in the lives of the deeply religious nation, it is difficult to ascertain just how much of our religiosity translates to spirituality and a personal relationship with this God.
Men who have stuck with their ‘lesser’ deities appear to be doing better in instilling fear, which is a really funny situation. Just briefly imagine Nigeria threatening Russia or the United States of America. Or Niger Republic with a war threat against Nigeria?! It would make for a good refreshing release on a hard day. That is exactly how I feel when some nobody tries to fill my ears with foreboding evil from village enemies aka African Insurance.
Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” because our battle is not against flesh and blood.So we are well aware that there are battles to fight alright, but we have not been told to dwell in the fear that every fly and cockroach can cause us harm. I get the feeling that either we have learned to cut up the Bible in such a way as to leave us blinded to the benefits of standing with a being greater than everything, or those who have taken on the task of propagating the gospel are doing a terrible job of it.
Every morning at the break of dawn a lone figure staged outside my gate, armed with speakers and a microphone preaches repentance or eternal damnation in the fires of hell. At the bus stop, men and women dressed in boring attires hand out fliers sporting a lone message: HELL IS REAL, make their rounds through the teeming population waiting for the bus. And on Sundays our churches organize weekly revivals with a promise to cast out stubborn poverty causing demons and liberation from demonic powers.
Where in all of these is the Christian given the chance to ‘testify’ about this God?
Christianity is not and should not be a gateway to escape death and hell. People can stop with that already, thank you. I’m sure the world already got the message the first time without having the incessant repetition. The ministry should be one of the Good News of salvation from the power of sin and a better life, finding true happiness in Christ; not one of fear and doom.
I’m proposing a change in the manner Christ is taught. If we spend time scaring people to God, then we will spend more time scaring them to stay in it ergo fliers, retreats.And one day when they realize it’s easier to believe in nothing and be happy than what the evangelist proposes, an atheist is born.
The world is a bad place. Suffering abides in it. Good people die. Bad people die. And the sun shines on everyone alike—good and evil. But we are promised a place where everything will be okay, where suffering will be gone and joy will abound. The message is one of hope and belief in the strength of THE God, and not of fear and death.
If after this it becomes apparent that Africa finds it easier to believe in the power of her old god(s) to cause harm, rather than the saving power of a new God, then perhaps we should have stuck with the former.