The problem with Nigerian religionism ~ By Tochukwu Ezukanma
As he wasted away in a Nazi concentration camp, reality dawned on this German aristocrat. In a letter to his wife, he wrote, “Every man is a special thought of the Creator’s mind”. He was right or creation would have been mass production. God did not standardize a template for man, and then, mass-produced him, with everyone looking the same. It is because He thought about each and every one of us in a special way that he made each of us special: individually distinct. The Psalmists in Psalm 82: 6 wrote, “Ye all are gods”, and Jesus Christ agreed with the Jews in John 10:34 that we “are gods”. Yes, every man is a special thought of God’s mind – a miniature God – created with individualized identity, temperament, talents and destiny.
In this our excessively religious country, we passionately worship God. We frequent the church, pay our offerings, tithes and first fruits, sow seeds, and sing praises and pray to God. Lamentably, despite our enthusiasm for God, we disregard and disdain the visible and palpable gods that pervade our lives – man. Imagine a flight passenger that started a fight with the pilot, and as, he was teaching the pilot a punching lesson, the pilot, bruised and flustered, was losing control of the plane. And, as the plane floundered and went off course, the passenger, as he continued to pummel the pilot, also continued to pray to God to grant him journey mercy and lead him safely to his destination. It is not impossible that God may answer his prayer. But the best way for him to have ensured God’s journey mercy, and thus, a safe flight would have been to respect and obey the pilot and his crew, the miniature Gods appointed by the Supreme God to direct his journey.
The problem of the flight passenger is that he refused to realize that man is god, and that the pilot and his crew are small Gods appointed by the Supreme God to take him to his destination. Like the pilot and the crew manning that flight, every man we encounter is a miniature God playing a given role in accordance to the will of the Almighty God. These roles may be grand, even monumental or minute, even insignificant; magnificent or detestable, but all in line with His divine design. In the same way, the flight passenger would have made it easier for God to answer his prayers by recognizing and respecting the mini-Gods designated to guide his flight, our worship of God becomes meaningful and more rewarding when we acknowledge, respect and love the small Gods we encounter routinely in our everyday lives.
There has been an inordinate growth of the Christian religion in Nigeria. Village communities and city neighborhoods are studded with churches. Believers are in churches on Wednesdays, Thursday, Fridays, and of course, Sundays. There are morning devotions, mid-night vigils, Sunday services, Fellowship meetings, and one revival and crusade after another. These religious gatherings are filled with praise and worship, prayers, exhortations and the usual sermons. Paradoxically, Nigerians are very fraudulent, wicked and violent; they have very little regards for human life. Even the bastions of the Christian faith, the churches, are suffused with selfishness, dishonesty, intolerance and other none Christ-like attributes that the Bible repeatedly stated should not exist among Christians. How can a country inundated with the Christian doctrine founded on love, humility, compassion, lawfulness, etc remain full of hate, arrogance, cruelty, lawlessness, etc?
It is because Nigerians, especially, the rulers and those in power and authority do not know that man is God; and that it is in serving man that we serve God, and in loving man that we love God. They refuse to realize that in brutalizing man, you brutalize God, and in lying to, and stealing from, the people, you lie to, and steal from, God. The Bible tells us that there are millions of angels in heaven assigned solely to the worship of God. So, although we should sing praises unto Him, but, by the standards of these angels’ heavenly symphony, our worship songs must be discordant and croaky: just noise. The giving of offerings, paying of tithe and first fruit, and the sowing of seed that presently dominate the preaching of most Nigerian pastors are all fine but not the essence of Christianity. In Matthew 5 verse 23 to 24, the Bible says: If you bring your gift (offering, tithe, etc) to the altar and then remember that your brother has something against you, go first reconcile with him before you offer your gift (offering, tithe, etc). In other words, making peace with man and living in peace and love with him is spiritually more important than our offerings to God. God does not need the money the pastors squelch out of us and “give” to God. It lines the pastors’ pockets. Does God not own the world and all that is in it?
There is really nothing that man can do for God. It is in doing to man that we do to God. We can only love God by loving our fellow human beings and serve God by serving man. It is in respecting man that we respect God; and in caring for man, we are care for God. To honor God and dishonor man, revere God and despise man, love God and hate man is hypocritical, sinful absurdity. The true love and worship of the Supreme God is in respecting, caring and loving man, the miniature Gods that pervade our lives.
Jesus Christ made this point in Matthew 25 verse 34 to 40, “Then shall the King say unto them… Come you bless of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me: Naked, and ye clothe me. ”And the righteous will ask “Lord, when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, thirsty, and gave thee drink, stranger, and took thee in, or naked and clothe thee?” And “the King shall answer…them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.
Yes, in doing unto man, you do unto God. Man is an expression and an embodiment of God. There is God in man and man in God. For we all are gods.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria; firstname.lastname@example.org; 0803 529 2908