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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Nigeria And The Compromised Church - Pastor Agu Irukwu

I saw this article posted on my facebook page and felt it was worth sharing. One question that has plagued my mind overtime and I am sure yours too is, how come with all our religious activities, vigils and prayer programmes in Nigeria, we still cannot see or feel its effect in our country. Is it that God has closed his ears to our cries? Or have our lights simply faded away with the darkness? The article is a long read but it is worth your time. Read excerpts below and go here for the full article.

I’m not a pessimist; everybody who knows me knows that I am an eternal optimist. But as I look at our nation, Nigeria, I can’t help but say that this description presently fits the nation. Through indolence, through negligence, through carelessness, the rafters of state affairs have decayed; the roof sinks in and sadly at this point in time, the house is leaking. We look at our nation and our hearts bleed and we cry. And if we feel like that, you can only imagine what those who have given their lives for that nation literally - like General Gowon - would feel. I guess if it wasn't for his Christian faith, he would be pessimistic. But because he knows he serves a God that can do the impossible, he is hopeful for the nation.

The institutions are compromised. Institutions that we once held in high regard in the nation are totally compromised. There is hardly an institution in Nigeria now that is not completely compromised. At one time, we held the judiciary in high regard. But everyone knows now that the judiciary is compromised. The legislature is compromised. The executive is compromised.Even the army is now compromised. It’s almost like the description in Ecclesiastes the 10th chapter and the 6th verse, describes Nigeria: that folly is set in great dignity and high places. The Message Bible says immaturity is given a place of prominence while maturity is made to take a back seat.

It goes on in that same chapter in verse 7 to say “I have seen servants on horses and princes walking as servants on the earth.” The Message Bible says “I have seen unproven upstarts riding in style while experienced veterans are put out to pasture.” And this in a sense describes the sad state of the nation: unproven upstarts riding in style while experienced veterans, those who could guide the affairs of state, are put out to pasture. Nigeria is synonymous, sadly, with certain words that you and I grieve when we hear mentioned. It’s synonymous with corruption; it’s synonymous with decay; it’s synonymous with degeneration; it’s now synonymous with violence. And the list can go on and on and on.

And then there is an interesting paradox that sometimes bugles the mind about Nigeria. You know, a paradox is a seeming of absurd or contradictory statement or proposition; something that just doesn't seem to add up. In spite of all these things, there is a proliferation of churches. Religion is big; prayers are the in-thing. Every Friday, from literally every corner, you can hear the sound of prayers being said. And not just prayers of the Christian faith; prayers of other faiths as well. But then, this is a paradox to me. I am thinking to myself: this state of affairs should make anyone who cares about that nation stop and think.

Because, if there are so many churches, and if there is so much religion, there should be a change in the country. And if there is not a change with these proliferation of churches in every single street; with these large meetings and small meetings that are being held to pray for the nation, with our ability to speak Christianese like we do in Nigeria; our ability to say amen to everything and halleluyah to everything, if those things are not bringing about change, any right thinking person should say, hang on a minute.There is something that is not quite right here. Because if this exists, then this should be the result. It should be something that should plague everybody’s mind and it has plagued my mind as well.

In the Amplified verse 13 says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality)” what was Jesus saying? He was saying that the way this thing should work is that, if light is there, the darkness must recede. And so, if there is the semblance of light and the darkness is not receding, the problem is not really with the darkness, the problem is with the light; because by its very nature, light causes darkness to recede. He was saying that if there is salt there, it should change the flavor. The salt there should do what salt does: prevent corruption and prevent degeneration. Because I’m sure you know that in those days before refrigerators, the way they preserved food is to coat it in salt. And so we see all this salt but we see so much corruption. We see all this salt but we still see so much degeneration. We see all this light but yet there is still so much darkness. We should then be asking ourselves a question.

Jesus says about the Kingdom of God. He says in Matt. 13:33, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in large amount of flour until it worked its way all through the dough.” The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took. She took a little sprinkling of the yeast and put it in a large amount of dough. She didn't have to populate the whole dough with yeast because the very nature of yeast is that once it is put in dough, it spreads and it eventually changes the dough. Now the question we must ask ourselves is if there is so much yeast, how come the dough is still not being affected by all the yeast that is there because the very nature of yeast is that you do not need a lot of yeast to change the dough.

So that takes me to the answer to that question; because as I thought about it, I went back to the scriptures. And the scriptures say that if the salt loses its saltiness, its strength and quality, then it still looks like salt but it does not have the strength and the quality to bring about change. It looks like light but it is not powerful enough to cause darkness to recede. It has the semblance of what it should be but the inherent power in it that should bring about transformation does not exist. 

That, my brothers and sisters, is the challenge that we have with Nigeria: the salt has lost its savor. The salt has lost its saltiness. The salt has lost its strength and its quality. And so there might be a lot of salt but the soup does not feel that there is salt in it. Because the strength and the quality of the salt have been lost and I’m sure you will agree with me that the quality has surely been lost. And as a result of that, the salt cannot bring about the transformation that it should bring about.
You know, I read all kinds of books about church growth, but I often tell people, before you read all these books, first read the book of Acts because that is the model for the original successful church. And the original church in the Book of Acts was not an institution, it was a movement. The moment the church becomes an institution, it loses its power. Because an institution stifles the Holy Spirit; a movement gives free flow to the Holy Spirit. What drove the early church was that the Holy Spirit had free flow. What is killing the church in Nigeria is that the church has become an institution.

My favorite quotation in the world is by a man called Charles Finney. He says “the great business of the church is to reform the world; to put away every kind of sin. The church of Jesus Christ was originally organized to be a body of reformers. The Christian church was designed to make aggressive movements in every direction. To lift up her voice, put forth her energies against iniquity in high and low places; to change individuals, communities and governments and to never rest until the Kingdom and the greatness of the Kingdom has been established and every form of iniquity driven from the earth.”
What is the church? It is a body of reformers. If the church is not reforming, it is not performing its function. The church is not just for us to gather, fellowship, collect blessings - that’s not the church. The church must be bringing change. If the church is not bringing change, it is not performing its function. And you know the encouragement? You don’t need quantity, you need quality. Remember, it is just the sprinkling of yeast that has quality that brings about change. It is just an introduction of a spotlight that brings about change.

Not only is the vehicle compromised, the message is compromised in Nigeria. The beauty of the early church was the centrality of the message. The message was about Jesus. They did not try to coat it in anything else. They were upfront about what it was about. It was purely about Jesus. There were huge personalities in the early church. But isn’t it interesting how the huge personalities never obscured the message of Jesus and the message of the cross? The challenge we face in Nigeria is the cult of the personalities. There is nothing wrong in being a huge personality: Paul was a huge personality; Peter was a huge personality but they understood how to place themselves behind the message so that the message that you got was not Paul or Peter;the message that you got was Jesus and the cross of Calvary. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Nigeria........................................................

Pastor Agu Irukwu is one of the patrons of Nigeria Prays, UK, special assistant to the RCCG General Overseer, Chairman of RCCG, Executive council and board of trustees of UK and senior pastor of Jesus House, London.

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