Religion, Faith, And The Ministry Of Fear

Photo credit: christianfunnypictures(dot)com
Photo credit: christianfunnypictures(dot)com

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.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Religion, Faith, And The Ministry Of Fear

        • uju March 24, 2015 / 12:59 pm

          lol, thank you again (I’m trying…can’t stop heheh) 😀
          Already love having you around.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. folakemiodoaje January 23, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    Fantastic message Uju.

    Non of our issues is isolated. People are tired so need sense of belonging somewhere, anywhere here is where God of Adeboye and the likes stepped in – they flourished because people were made to believe it is okay for them to suffer here on earth as the heavenly home is for them. The result, congregations were blinded to the hazard created by the massive hold-ups on express way every month, also believed their govt must be doing all that is right because he attended the same church. They will never see the disconnections between the preachings and the preachers because they believed they are less of.

    And these preachers are smart, they have different sermons for their Nigerian members and those in the UK for example. You can not for any reason cause traffic in the UK because of church program, but they get away with it in Nigeria and my people still nod along.

    Ever seen a middle aged Nigerian say “I don’t steal because it is illegal?” They’d rather say “I don’t steal because I go to church/ungodly”

    Until we have a system whereby welfare of everyone is valued anyone and everyone will do whatever they liked.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. olisakwerah December 31, 2014 / 11:34 am

    Hmmm…hav I missed someone’s writing…
    I realy love this piece Uju. It’s not like those fears are not potent, but the Christ in you should be greater than whatever is in the world. His grace is always sufficient.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju January 1, 2015 / 6:56 am

      And may his grace ever remain sufficient for us now more than ever.

      Our ministers need to teach more about grace. We don’t totally get it yet.

      Like

  3. Micynute94 December 18, 2014 / 5:35 am

    More reason, we have ppl moving into Atheism…..

    The issue with this “foreign religion” is the way its teachings and messages are been carried out in Africa.
    The message of love, grace, mercy, kindness or hope have all been replaced with more psychological or say i, exploiting tools; The fear of doom, hell and the reward of heaven, adding our selfish and greedy nature, what we have is ” a dye in the wool” convert with a whole new mentality about his new God.
    I concurred with your post uju.. it’s so on point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 18, 2014 / 8:39 am

      Here’s something a brilliant blogger had to say about placing people and God in boxes
      “And God in a box – keeping God safe – that is a particular curiosity of mine. All that packaging and trimming and making Him fit … a curious pastime!”

      God has made the world and man plain, simple and beautiful. It’s a pity we enjoy complicating everything around us–including our relationship with Him.

      Thank you for your insight, Micy.

      Like

  4. Kachi December 1, 2014 / 8:42 am

    OMG this post!!

    Like I always, always say, any gospel that instills fear in you after listening, is not the gospel of Christ. Christ never did that.

    P.S this blog is wonderful. really glad I found it.

    Like

    • uju December 1, 2014 / 9:05 am

      Christ is all for freedom and redemption. There is no fear in Christ’s love 🙂

      Thank you Kachi, i hope you stay.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ifemmanuel November 25, 2014 / 7:00 am

    The Christian faith is a balance of grace and truth. A tilt to any side will result in a distorted faith. Interestingly, we even understand grace at all, and our truth is riddled with heresy. What we have is not even a distorted faith–it is not faith at all.

    It is the job of everyone to know the truth and sell it not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju November 25, 2014 / 4:58 pm

      Well said Ife. We are yet to learn what faith really means. Sadly that’s a journey people have to make on their own.

      Like

  6. Written For Our Instruction November 22, 2014 / 9:33 pm

    I wish I could put into words what your post has done for me, but I have no words other than… Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 1, 2014 / 9:12 am

      I’m so glad it resonated.
      Thank you 🙂

      P.S I’m sorry askimet stole your comment and I couldn’t rescue it soon enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Holistic Wayfarer November 21, 2014 / 4:48 pm

    It is the fire and brimstone preachers who don’t understand grace which is only the bedrock of Christian truth. They’re the ones who will keep bopping converts on the head to DO better. The Gospel is the declaration that we CANNOT do better. THAT is why God is so great, THAT is why Jesus had to come and be sufficient for us. I can go on but will refrain from hijacking your post. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju November 22, 2014 / 6:11 am

      Amen sister.
      The gospel of Grace is something that hasn’t been fully grasped by the Nigerian church. There’s all around this struggle for perfection and back-hand snickering where we judge others who have failed.
      But like you said, we cannot do this alone, which is why we have the all sufficient Christ.

      **Now if we could hold a crusade and name you chief speaker….. 🙂

      Like

      • Holistic Wayfarer November 22, 2014 / 6:29 am

        LOL!!! About to turn in and you’re waking me up.
        It’s a serious epidemic but one that has clung since the beginning of time. Can we TRUST HIM at HIS WORD? Not intefere? (Fruit, Garden, Fall). I can smell a man-centered preacher a mile away. Wanna say, “Excuse me. Can you move over so I can SEE JESUS????”

        Liked by 1 person

      • uju November 24, 2014 / 4:19 pm

        Had to pause so you’ll fall asleep 😀

        “Excuse me. Can you move over so I can SEE JESUS????”
        …..i love this Diana. It seems people are doing a better job of confusing other’s view of Jesus than anything else. I understand God reveals himself to us in different ways, each one unique to certain individuals. Yet some are beginning to take monopoly of this revelation.

        Like

  8. OBASI CHIDI November 20, 2014 / 11:36 am

    It is best to wake +FELA ANIKULAPO-RANSOME KUTI from sleep,he can sing his yester-years music “sufferin and smilin” tells you more about religion in african continent.

    Like

    • uju November 21, 2014 / 8:35 am

      Fela THE one man army? God rest his soul, but that man was talented.

      As for suffering and smiling, I have to ask if this is an African curse. Learning to live with the things we can’t change, and finding solace where we can.

      Like

  9. Ordinand Adeniyi November 19, 2014 / 2:18 pm

    Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the
    conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of
    old received their commendation. By faith we
    understand that the universe was created by the
    word of God, so that what is seen was not made out
    of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to
    God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through
    which he was commended as righteous, God
    commending him by accepting his gifts. And through
    his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith
    Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
    and he was not found, because God had taken him.
    Now before he was taken he was commended as
    having pleased God (Hebrew 11:1-40). Not all christian that know the God they are serving. Jesus said let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to
    be burned; then gather the wheat and bring
    it into my barn Mathew 13:30.

    Like

    • uju November 19, 2014 / 4:29 pm

      We are on a soul saving mission, but even that ministry must be shared the right way.
      What is the Christian selling? Fear or Life?

      Like

  10. aimpurpose November 19, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    Great piece Uju. I agree with you that the message of the gospel is not fear and that what we should teach is God’s love and our desire to love Him which we, most times, forget is the deepest desire in every human. I have asked this question before among my Christian folks, that if it is found out that there really is no hell, how many will still want to be saved?
    I believe salvation is beyond making it to heaven or escaping hell. It is the key to enjoying life to the fullest here and now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju November 19, 2014 / 4:28 pm

      Now that’s a question everyone should ask themselves: Is my morality borne of fearing/loving God, or dreading death/hell?

      Christ promises peace that surpasses understanding. That’s the testimony believers need to share.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. glowingscenes November 18, 2014 / 6:15 pm

    I looooooooooved reading this Uju! I really do. It’s like we have the same mind or something. lool. I even wrote a similar topic: The Love of God or the fear of Hell. You can read it here.
    http://glowingscenes.com/?p=2978

    It’s really disheartening to realize that an average Nigerian believes more in his gods than the God which he goes to ‘check’ out on Sundays hence the rate at which religion in Nigeria is paramount. Just plain religion, like an empty tank. Nothing else.

    Like someone said, the mentality of a yoruba man(I don’t know about the other tribes but I speak on Yoruba because it’s my tribe and something I’m quite familiar with) is fetish and so believes all the superstitions above all else, even above the Bible in some cases and so that is what will work for him. If we are honest with ourselves, some of us who claim to know God don’t even know him at all but would rather prefer to create an image of what we think He is like and we prefer to worship that. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that fear might draw people to God for a while, but when the time comes it will show itself for what it really is. FEAR. But what does God’s word say about Love and Fear? It says Perfect love casts out fear.

    Like C.S Lewis said, I want God, not my version of God.

    Sorry for the long epistle. Your post resonated with me too much to let go without a comment 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • uju November 19, 2014 / 9:18 am

      I love it when our minds connect and something resonates on a deeper level.

      And this part: “some of us who claim to know God don’t even know him at all but would rather prefer to create an image of what we think He is like and we prefer to worship that” was spot on.
      It’s this sunday-Sunday syndrome common with people today. We follow tradition, like our fathers did in the past, but these things overtime become more ceremonial than personal.
      Religion should be as a personal daily experience. But I feel the major problem with Nigerians and worship is the reason why we even bother to join a society. And these reasons govern how we interact in our environment.
      So to a greater number of the Christendom, so much is anchored in Fear like you rightly mentioned.
      If we can get rid of our fear, I daresay we would have found what true spirituality is.

      I love the epistle 🙂

      Like

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