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By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

They put themselves there. They parade a Big God.   Yes He is big. But they do only small things. They are never embarrassed. They cover their   ineffectiveness by     exaggerating their small mundane deeds.

It’s not the fault of God.   God wanted them to be heavenly minded but they are preoccupied with the world. There are two brands of pentecostal christianity. One loathes prosperity. 
    So those who embrace this are allowed to replace work with eternal fellowships and slothfulness in obsession with miracles. This congregation is   filled with stoics and spartans. There is widespread   abiding poverty and ignorance.   
   The congregation is conditioned to view prosperity as distraction , lasciviousness.   In their midst there is solidarity but no real   love. They look out for their brethren but   are always so sectarian their charity doesn’t extend to anyone else.   Their outlook is always narrow.   They never see beyond their denomination. They are often not bothered politics. Being very   poor they are more conscious of Heaven than the others. They dream miracles of turning water to wine and destruction of witches. 
    Something about their orientation and circumstance leaves them   closet sadists. Their pastors tell them so much about sexual sins but not enough about humanity. 
    Their pastors teach them the righteousness of pharisees, which is good,   but   haven’t been able to explain to them why they claim so much spiritual powers against witches but none against hunger and diseases. 

This group is rightly told that Prayers can work wonders. But they have never been told the truth. That their prayers haven’t really worked much . That there must be something fundamentally wrong with their lives and their understanding of God. 

Then there is the other extreme. They claim   high   spirituality too. Their spirituality has a human face.     It is tempered their focus on earthly success. So they worship God because they want to be rich and healthy on earth.   Heaven is desired but it is   essentially secondary. 

Their preoccupation with success, career   and wealth allows the recognition of prosperity as the chief blessing of God. And because prosperity feeds the flesh, this group is content with mild-moderate spirituality. Pragmatic spirituality rather than the claustrophobic variety of the earlier group.   This is the group that makes mountains out of mole hills   in the name of testimonies.   The group that finds success through all means and attributes it to God to settle Him. 

Having   made   prosperity the essence, they   make a lot of noise when little money comes their way. They are told God blesses His people with abundant wealth. But no one has explained to them   the phenomena – Bill Gates and Malaysia. No some of their pastors   have tried.   These pastors who   wear expensive suits and ride luxury cars   have said that it is the adherence with   the principles of God that makes one rich. That’s how they explained Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and Norway.   But that’s sophistry. That’s not the Bible. Nigerian pentecostal doctrines may be spiritual but are hardly well philosophically grounded.   They are never thoroughly well thought out. So they can’t be well explained. So one   pastor tells his congregation that prayer is the key. 

But his congregation watches prayerless people excel. And another pastor tells his congregation it’s hard work and his congregation wonders why they need to come to church at all. And neither pastor can explain Nigeria. No one can explain why with millions of pastors praying and working so hard we seem to be godforsaken. Oh some have tried. They said that were it not for the intercessions and works of their ministries Nigeria would have become desolate. Thats the point. They never feel embarrassed. But   there are those flowing in the middle,   in   an insipid orthodoxy. They are fed tradition and cliches.   They are fed spiritual powerlessness. 

They expect nothing. They hope they would make heaven if it exists because they mouth Jesus. But nothing about Jesus moderates their lives. They mock the ones that claim spirituality. They pray perfunctorily. They give offerings. They are not very sure of what they are doing. But they won’t worry about it. They are taking it easy. The contradictions are stark. The conflicts   are troubling. But there is an explanation. The apostles died violently. The earth must be a short passing phase. In the grand scheme of things   the pains and joys here are ephemeral. Too ephemeral to count. The church is in a fix because it’s preoccupied with earthly living. 

  The church can only be relevant when it switches its preoccupation heavenwards. The Churches must preach it.   They must preach holiness. But they must preach love. They must preach miracles. But they must preach simple living and contentment. The churches must concentrate on Heaven. So   human beings can   live in   moderation and love and focus on God and charity while here. It’s a very   short passing phase.

Culled from: vanguard.

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