THE NIGERIAN CHRISTIAN - BORN INTO SPIRITUAL DIMNESS
If you are a Christian in Nigeria, and you got born again in the last 30 years or so, there is a truth that confronts us. Sooner or later, we’ll need to also confront this truth and its implication for (1) our walk with the Lord, and (2) the growth of the Kingdom of God in our nation.
And this is it – we were born into a period of spiritual dimness.A period when a silent assault was launched against the truth of the Gospel in the country. That assault continues, largely unchecked, till date. And it has serious consequences for all believers in Nigeria. I will highlight some of those consequences in a forthcoming article; but today, I’ll make an attempt to explore some basic elements of this malady.
Let me start from this sobering premise – a lot of what we see and call Christianity in Nigeria today has little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ. Or put in another way, we can say we have Christianity as a RELIGION, but not as a WAY OF LIFE, in Nigeria. Those who truly know Jesus will attest to the fact that Christianity IS NOT a religion. They also know that it is possible to have Christianity as a form of godliness, but that this caricature is devoid of the LIFE and POWER that make genuine Christianity what it is. Apostle Paul warns against this phony faith in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
But where we see this danger most clearly presented in the New Testament is in the experience of the Ephesian Church as recorded in Revelation 2:1-7. That Church had superb credentials that most churches of today will envy – good works, patience, earnest labour in Christ’s name, aversion to false apostles, doggedness in faith, etc. Yet, Jesus Christ evaluated that same church and said they were FALLEN! (verse 5) What was the problem? Very simple. Their love for Christ had waxed cold. The passion for Christ was no longer burning in their hearts. He was no longer enthroned in their hearts. Yet they were labouring in His name, probably performing miracles in His name, and ‘growing’ their Church in His name! All IN HIS NAME, yet He was not there! The remedy He proffered for their condition underlines the seriousness of the situation. He told them, “… repent … If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (verse 6) He threatened to shut them down! (History shows that He eventually did.)
Now, let’s bring it back home. I guess the first useful exercise you can carry out is to evaluate the state of the Gospel in Nigeria in relation to the Gospel in the Bible. To compare the teachings of Christ with the teachings from our pulpits today. And by extension, to examine the fruits of the Church in Nigeria to see if it correlates in any way with Christ’s expectation in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” A simple question: “Is the conduct of the Church in Nigeria glorifying our Father in heaven?”
If your answer is NO. Please permit me to highlight a few facts that are responsible for where we are today. And to suggest that, unless we rise up in prayers and action today, the situation will continue to degenerate. (Pls feel free to slide the percentage bar to wherever you think it should be)
FACT NUMBER 1: Over 90% of what we do in the Church in Nigeria has nothing to do with Jesus Christ - although we do them in His name. Our Christian activities are more of religious exercises than anything else.
FACT NUMBER 2: Over 90% of the men of God in Nigeria have completely lost focus of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. (This malaise starts at the very top of Christian leadership in Nigeria - including in the Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Charismatic circles.) These men are now preaching ANOTHER GOSPEL - a 'Gospel' that is clearly designed to appeal to the flesh and keep us comfortable to keep coming to Church. For in coming to Church, we keep the 'Church System' expanding (though the Kingdom of God is NOT expanding in the land as we think).
FACT NUMBER 3: In view of these two points, if you got born again, or have been brought up within the ‘Church System’ in Nigeria, it will make sense for you to please carry out a personal, genuine, thorough, and exhaustive re-appraisal of yourself in the light of the genuine faith that is in Christ Jesus. This examination can ONLY be done by God’s Holy Spirit, because our spiritual capacity to think accurately has been largely shaped by the spiritual environment that we grew up in. Having been born into a period of dimness, we tend to see spiritual matters from a dim perspective. An inaccurate scale can NEVER give you an accurate result. That’s why you can ONLY genuinely assess where you are today through the eyes of God.
The problems that we face are self-evident. If we genuinely know the Jesus Christ of the Bible, how much of Him do we see in the ‘Church System’ that is all around us? Please let us pause and think, and look through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Wherever Jesus Christ truly reigns, His impact in that life/environment CANNOT be mistaken. Do we feel the impact of Christ in our ‘Church System’? Do you see His transforming power stamped on our society by those of us that claim to follow Him? At the personal level, where are you in the journey of eternity? If the second coming of Jesus Christ occurs within the next 10 minutes, are you TRULY ready for Him? These are questions that we cannot afford to side-step if we do not want to play with our destiny in eternity.
FURTHER EVIDENCE: In His mercy, God is allowing the evidence to confront us. In recent times, He is allowing the hollowness, insincerity, greed, and fickleness of our Christian leaders to be more visible to the discerning eyes (and even to some unbelievers that do not have spiritual discernment). But most of us are living in denial over what the Lord is clearly showing us. We have conditioned our minds to believe that some ‘men of God’ are too godly to fail or fall. And so we excuse all that they do, deceiving ourselves that all they do must be from God – because they are ‘men of God’. Yet there is a reason why God allowed Matthew 7:22-23 to be written in the Bible. It helps us to see that not everybody who comes ‘in the name of Jesus’ or runs his ministry ‘in the name of Jesus’ is truly standing in Jesus – till the end. Some start well, and deviate later. The anointing may be there. The miracles may be there. The crowd may be there. The money may be there. But the most pertinent question is this –
IS JESUS CHRIST STILL THERE?
At the personal level, we also excuse ourselves. In comparing ourselves with ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12), we see that ‘we are not too bad’. We benchmark our true spirituality against the rot that we see all around us, and take solace in the fact that we are not as bad as others. Rather than this self-serving approach, do we evaluate ourselves in the light of God’s high standard for our lives? Please, kindly permit me to address you directly. Do you have a sense of the true value of the price that was paid by Christ on the Cross of Calvary to secure your pardon? Do you live in awe of the enormity of the cost of your redemption? Are you living out your remaining days in the light of that reality? Having been in Christ for 10, 20, 30 years, is the heart of God truly satisfied with where you are today spiritually? Are you bearing the expected fruits for the vine Owner’s periodic visits? (Luke 13:6-9).
In rounding up this article, I will tell you why we may be deceived into thinking that all is well. Because our toes are in the water of the Gospel. We feel the wetness at our feet, and believe that we are partakers in the River of Life. We also believe we have the Holy Spirit in us. This may be very true, and it may be very false. Please take a few minutes to look at Ezekiel 47:1-5. In this vision, we see an analogy of the levels of engagement that we can have with the River. Some get to the ankle level (verse 3), some to the knee level (verse 4), and some to the waist level (verse 4). Yet there is the opportunity to get to a place in that same river where the waters rise to a level ‘that could not be passed over’ (verse 5). It is at this stage that the River takes full control, and does with us as it pleases.
A full, truly rewarding relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be experienced at the ankle level in the water, nor at the knee or waist level. Verse 5 is our place of fruitfulness in Jesus Christ. Christ is not our ALL until He becomes our ALL. It is when we get to the stage where we cannot wade in the river, but allow the river to carry us wherever it wills, that we truly become SONS OF GOD. For it is ONLY those that are led by the Spirit of God that are the SONS OF GOD (Romans 8:14). Jesus Christ puts it in another way in John 12:25, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Is your life truly lost in Christ, or are you sharing your life with Him?
Looking at a large crowd of those that followed Him, Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” And in looking towards the end of times, the days we live in today, He asked in Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Friend, look at the type of faith that Jesus was talking about here. The type of faith that subjects itself COMPLETELY to God, and to Him ALONE. For if the judge in the parable did not arise to help the widow, there was no other helper for her. So she abandoned herself at the judge’s gate. Friend, have you abandoned yourself COMPLETELY at God’s gate? Or are you still in partial control of your life, with your ankle in the water? Or your knees/ Or even your waist? Please remember that only the deep can call to the deep. (Psalm 42:7).
On the last day, please remember that we will NOT be judged based on the talents that we USED on earth, but on the talents that we were GIVEN. The Christians that maximise the use of their talents are those that live in Ezekiel 47:5 – fully dedicated to, and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
How vigorously are you swimming towards Ezekiel 47:5? How will the distorted Gospel proclaimed on most of our pulpits launch you into the deepest labyrinths of the heart of God? All the Apostles of Christ contended earnestly with peddlers of false doctrines with all their hearts and might till they died (Galatians 1:8-9, 2:4-5, Titus 1:10-11, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 2 Peter 2, Jude 3-19, etc). There was no compromise with the truth. Even within the circles of the Apostles themselves, they contended to preserve the sanctity of the word. But in our days, we place men that are clearly preaching ANOTHER GOSPEL on pedestals and call them ‘our fathers in the Lord’. And we are almost ready to stone anybody that dares to challenge their false doctrines and practices. OUR EYES HAVE INDEED GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO THE DIMNESS!!! And it is probably for this same reason that we are failing to see that the water we feel around us is only to the ankle/knee/waist level. When the blind leads the blind they will both fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). These are the eternal words of THE WORD Himself.
Friends, should we not get on our knees and start to seek Christ with ALL OUR HEARTS? Like in the Days of Noah, His mercy still awaits those that will repent and head for the Ark. For one day, probably very soon, the DOOR WILL BE SHUT – forever. But you can make a move today. The love of Christ is waiting to lead you deeper into the heart of the Father.
If this message is meant for you, I pray that the Lord will grant you understanding. And the wisdom and courage to make the necessary changes that He Himself will dictate to you as you seek His face.
Thanks for reading and God bless.
(Please remember to lookout for the second part of this article where we look a bit more in details at the consequence of the dimness around us.)
Church Watch in Nigeria