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Is My Church Turning Into a Club?

“On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat . . . but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.

Some of those who had been saved as well as others along the seacoast wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant began to grow.

Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, hand-made equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, systems, and appointments. By its completion, the life-saving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as sort of a clubhouse, an attractive building for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred by now.

Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were black and “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside and away from the club so victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims . . . (“it’s too unpleasant, it’s a hindrance to our social life, it’s opening the door to folks who are not our kind“). As you’d expect, some still insisted upon saving lives, that this was their primary objective—that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.

As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into another club . . . and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself . . . and if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.

Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few seem to care . . . so very few. Do you” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, © 1983 by Charles R. Swindoll).

This parable can also be applied to what is happening in our African churches today. There was a time when all Christians would agree that the Bible is God’s Word and all that it commands us should be obeyed without questioning. Back then, the love for God’s Word was so great. Churches were born to proclaim Christ and the love of God for all. Sin was rebuked and was called what it is, “sin.” But some became unhappy with the status quo. They wanted to change God’s purpose for His Church for the “better.”And now, like that old lifesaving station, many churches have and are shifting away from their God-given vision.  Churches can now choose which passages of Scripture are God’s Word and should be obeyed unquestionably and which passages are not God’s Word hence should be discarded. My heart breeds in grief!

Today, you can go to a church and listen to a whole sermon without hearing the proclamation of Christ in it. Gone are the days when sermons were preached and people were convicted of sin and cried for help from the Savior. Today, when you go to church, members cheer the preacher and throw money at him (kusupa) to preach more what it pleasing to their ears.  It’s heartbreaking!

Gone are those days when church leaders would boldly stand and call a spade, a spade and not a big spoon. But today, some pastors and Christian leaders are afraid to call sin, “sin;” instead, you hear statements like: “No, it’s not sin, that’s how somebody was born, and God loves them the way they are and we can do nothing about it. Don’t judge.” Really?

Like that initial saving station which later turned into a club, we are also guilty of turning our churches into clubs where people can come to learn how to get rich and prosper and become most successful in life with little care about their spiritual lives.  We are guilty of converting the church into a club where people burdened with sin can come and live comfortably as if they are no slaves to sin at all. We have turned the church to a club that aims at entertaining its patrons and never dare disappoint them with the truth of Christ. Oh, Lord have mercy on us!

But we shouldn’t loose hope. In times like these, God has always shown us in Scripture that He always sets apart the remnants who rise and stand up for God’s truth not matter the cost. We should pray, earnestly, for these remnants. God says to the remnants:

 “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching…build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by sin” (2 Timothy 4:2;  Jude 20-23).

The remnants care. Do you?

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Christianity and Society

When Christians disagree…

Some people find it strange when Christians disagree. However, I tend to differ. Honestly, most of the times, I am not taken aback to see or hear Christians disagreeing except in a few cases when one clearly sees that God has been completely thrown out of the whole issue.

Christian squabbles don’t surprise me much because although Christians are saved and forgiven there are not perfect and there shall never be in this world. This is in no way condoning sin. God hates sin and we ought to hate it too. I strongly believe that Christians should always live a godly life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that sometimes we don’t. Let me not digress too much. The main issue here is about disagreements among or between Christians.

The story of Apostle Paul and Barnabas will help deliver my point home. These two Christians were greatly used by God.  They first met in Jerusalem when Paul had just become a Christian. While some were running away whenever they saw Paul because they could not believe that Paul had really changed, Barnabas accepted him and brought Paul before the Apostles and assured them that Paul was indeed a new creature in Christ.

The bond of friendship between the two grew stronger and even God was happy. No wonder the Holy Spirit chose the two to go and preach the gospel together in various countries outside Jerusalem (Acts 13:2). During their first trip on this mission, Barnabas took his cousin, John Mark along. As they continued to preach Christ in various countries, John Mark decided to return home before the trip had finished. Probably, John Mark could not stand the challenges that were being met in preaching Christ like being stoned or ridiculed or imprisoned. This act of young Mark did not go well with Paul.

Later on, when they decided to go back and revisit the churches they had planted in their first missionary trip, Paul advised Barnabas not to take John Mark with them again. But Barnabas insisted. This created a disagreement between the two. The Bible puts it that the two had “a sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39) hence they parted ways. Not good for Christians, uh?

I am sure the people who witnessed or heard about this commented like: “How can Christians disagree?” It is indeed sad that the two Christians failed to agree. But wait a minute! This is not the end of the story.

In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Get John Mark and bring him…because he is very helpful to my ministry.”

Can you please come again, Paul. Have I heard you right? I thought you disagreed and parted ways with Barnabas because you didn’t like John Mark. Why this change of heart?

Of course, we don’t have a record of the reconciliation between Paul and Barnabas anywhere in the Bible, but I have no doubts that the two reconciled and buried their differences. I hope you have now got my point. Christians are not perfect but when they disagree, you can be assured that reconciliation is inevitable.  Ask Barnabas Paul, and John Mark.

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Christianity and theology

Africa the Hope of Christianity???

Map of Africa.

Africa: Can it be the hope of Christianity?

I remember while in Bible college, my Church History and Systematic Theology professors (both of them from the West) used to reiterate that Africa is the hope of Christianity. The Church History professor could go further and foretell that a time is coming when missionaries from Africa will go and evangelize the West reversing the trend of having Western missionaries coming to evangelize Africa.

Their observation was mainly based on what is happening in Africa where more people are being converted to Christianity unlike in the West where Christianity is not growing very much and in some parts it is slowly dwindling into oblivion.

All along I have believed my professors’ observation but now I have started having second thoughts because the main issue is not just having many Africans becoming Christians but what type of “Christians” are these people becoming. Indeed, Christianity is growing in Africa but what type of ‘Christianity’ (if I may use that word) is growing roots among us Africans.

I stand to be corrected, Christianity in Africa stands at the crossroads today because despite that we have some people who are preaching the Gospel as given to us in Scripture, there are also others who are advancing Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy. It is sad that many Africans, knowingly or unknowingly, are buying into Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy as pure Gospel.

But what do I mean by Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy.  Allow me to use the word ‘Biblical Christianity’ to define better Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy. Biblical Christianity recognizes and teaches that the Bible is God’s Word. But Liberalism teaches that the Bible is man’s word about God. In other words, the Bible is not God’s word. Neo-Orthodoxy, on the other hand, teaches that the Bible is God’s Word only in the passages that speaks to you the rest is man’s word.

Now, on first glance, many of us would dismiss the fact that liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy are growing roots among some Christians in Africa but when you take a closer look, you will be greatly surprised.

Is it not in our churches today where people can stand up and say something like: “Well, the Bible says … but that was then, things have changed let’s do it this way.”

Again I ask: Is it not in our churches where statements like: “I know the Bible says… but I have received a new and special revelation, God wants us to do….” are made?

Don’t we have some people within our churches who stand in authority over God’s Word and we tend to believe what they say and teach more than Scripture?

I can go on and on; however, the truth I am endeavoring to put across is that if we keep on compromising on Biblical Christianity and let Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy rule in our churches then we should forget of Africa being the hope of Christianity. If Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy have killed and continue to kill Christianity in the West, should we believe that they will revive and grow Christianity in Africa?

Bible

The Bible is God's Inerrant Word

The number of conversions to Christianity should not deceive us and cause us to take our eyes off the ball. We need to be sure of what type of Christianity these people are being converted to. If it is not Biblical Christianity then Africa cannot be the hope of Christianity and we will never see African missionaries going to evangelize the West.  What message will they take there?

I always pray that God in His greatness and grace will open the eyes of Christian leaders in Africa to see and realize how evil and destructive Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy are.  It is my prayer that God in His mercy and grace will raise Christian leaders who do not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.  I pray for leaders who pay careful attention to themselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers, to care for the church of God (Acts 20:27, 28). If this can happen, then, for sure, Africa is the hope of Christianity.

Please Lord, help and bless Africa to contended for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In that way, we will become the beacon of hope. All this to your glory alone. Amen!

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Christianity and theology

It’s by Grace throughout but…

Last week, I posted on this blog an article entitled, “It’s by Grace Throughout” in which we discussed that we do not only need God’s grace for us to be saved (justified) but also for us to be transformed and become more like Christ (sanctification).

However, although it is true that sanctification also is by grace, there is a need to highlight that we need to cooperate with God for him to make us more and more like Christ. In other words, in justification God, single handedly, declares us righteous basing on the righteousness of Christ while in sanctification, God through the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with us so that we become like Christ.

For instance, one of the things we need to do to be more like Christ is to study God’s Word frequently and live it. So, God will give us the desire to study the Bible but it will take us to really study the Word.  God will never open the Bible and force us to read it. We have to play our role of reading.

Now, one might ask that if we are to cooperate with God in sanctification, where is grace then? Philippians 2:12  has the answer: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

For us to obey God, it is God, himself, who enables to do so. God knows that on our own, we can’t obey him  hence he works in us that we should obey him. This is grace, is it not?

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