Few months ago in Nigeria, around the time the constitutional conference was going on in Abuja, an audio message by a certain Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, who represented the Christian Association of Nigeria at the conference, began to make the rounds within and outside Nigeria. The audio message, amongst a number of things, described General Mohammadu Buhari, who was running for President, as an Islamic fundamentalist who, if elected, would Shariarize Nigeria. It also shared that, like in Turkey (ancient Ephesus), Christianity in Nigeria is on its way to obliteration through Jihad. Bosun claimed that Christians and Christianity are in trouble because Muslims are strategizing to Islamise Nigeria and that Christians should be vigilant. Bosun’s voice reverberated as the message received massive listening and distribution. The leadership of the RCCG, a mother Church to the assembly that hosted Bosun had since dissociated itself from the message. Most Christians who received the message frantically peddled it some, giving it more millage. But alas, it was a mere propaganda that ought to have been discountenanced, partly. Most people, including Church leaders who are ignorant of Church history, will tell you that this propaganda was correct. Those who know better will cry foul and correctly call it the ranting of an alarmist that it really was. History says it all. Bosun, in any case, was correct to share that the Nigerian Church, rather than focus on raising disciples, is busy raising “millionaires”. He added that the Nigerian Church needs repentance because it has gone the wrong way. Nothing can be truer. He also said that the Church in Nigeria is at war and needs to foster unity. Correct! He continued as he presented videos of some gory details of massacred Christians in the north eastern Nigeria by boko haram. This little write up is to educate and inform our people, correcting the incorrect parts of Pastor Bosun’s message and emphasising some truthful things he shared.
Indeed, a careful perusal of history reveals subtle and obvious relevance of the Nigerian Church in today’s world. The Gospel of Christ and the message of Scriptures have been considerably spread globally by Nigerians. This is hardly contestable because out of every four black Africans, one is Nigerian. Nigerians are everywhere human beings live, even in Siberia and they usually migrate with their religious beliefs handy. Most Christians become emergency missionaries, therefore. These unending emigrations are largely due to many years of gross misgovernance and mismanagement of national resources. If properly appropriated and managed, Nigeria can comfortably fend for a large portion of Africa. But then, the opposite is the case. A large number of her citizens struggle to live on less than a couple of dollars a day. Things have been pretty bad! The process and eventual results of the just concluded presidential elections would attest to the fact that it will never again be business as usual in our Nigeria. Change is here!
Although, my people have become the scum of many societies of the world,yet millions of my people remain very proud and, if you may, arrogant Nigerian green-passport carrier for many reasons. Firstly, we are very communal. We are a warm people who welcome strangers and visitors into our space, gladly sharing our means, even our meagre means. We are never xenophobic! Even when Ghanians were sadly excused from Nigeria way back in 1983, there were no losses of lives or properties, to the best of my knowledge. Many foreign nationals have since made Nigeria their base, expatriating proceeds of their sweats (or through connivance with our leaders) to their respective countries.Secondly, my people have contributed immensely to the GDP of societies where they live around the world.Ask around, there is always a Nigerian lecturing in some University,Technicon, High school, or doing legitimate businesses all over the world.And of course, like in all societies, a lot of bad examples of our people avail.
Now, not a few Nigerians were wrongly sensitised and alarmed by Pastor Bosun’s “revelations”. You see,like hordes of severally mispreached sermons, majority of Christians in my country usually overlook the seven most important letters authored personally by Jesus Christ. A crash course at the feet of Bro Wole Owolabi, handed me a re-evaluation of Bosun’s message. For many reasons, these seven letters, comprising Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, are probably the most important part of this book for Christians.Although, there were many other Churches at that time that would seem to be more significant than the seven that Jesus addressed: the Churches at Jerusalem, Rome, Galatia, Corinth, and Antioch for example. Why did Jesus select just these seven: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea?
Investigations by Graham Brodie explain at least four levels of application to these letters: Firstly, it had a local application. These were actual, historic Churches, with valid needs corroborated by archaeological discoveries. Secondly, it was admonitory as each of the letters appears with the key phrase, “Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches”. Note the plural, Churches. Each of the letters applies to all Churches throughout history. If we understand the sevenfold internal structure, the uniquely tailored messages, and the specific admonitions in each of the letters, we discover that any Church can be “mapped” in terms of these seven composite profiles. Thirdly,homiletic: Each of the letters also contains the phrase, “He that hath an ear let him hear…” Doesn’t each of us “have an ear”? Each letter applies to each of us. There are some elements of each of these seven “Churches” in each of us. Thus, this may be the most practical application of the entire Book of Revelation. Fourthly, it was prophetic. This, by far, is the most amazing application. These letters describe, with remarkable precision, the unfolding of all subsequent Church history. If these letters were in any other order, this would not be true!It is on this historical backdrop of these letters as expounded byWole Owolabi and Graham Brodie that we must analyse the message Pastor Bosun brought to the Nigerian Christians, warning them against a Buhari presidency as conduit for Islamic agenda.
The first letter was to the Ephesus Church. This Ephesian Church (present day Turkey) is representative of the great Evangelistic Church of the first century. The word Ephesus means “The Desired One”, which aptly describes the Church as Jesus sees it. Like the early days of the Nigerian Church, the Church in Ephesus was full of spiritual vitality and strength. However by the end of the 1st century, as it could be said of the Nigerian Church of today, the people had left their first love (for Christ and each other). Self-aggrandisements and personal kingdom building had taken the driver’s seat. Jesus warns them to repent or He would remove their “candle stick” from its place. This was a threat as well as a promise from the Lord. The warning still stands today. In my opinion, this kind of caution against greed in the Church from a Pastor Bosun to the Nigerian Church would have made more impact, rather than raising unfounded alarm of an impeding “jihad” from a Buhari Presidency.
The second letter was to the Smyrna Church. This represents the persecuted Church of the second and third centuries. According to Brodie, Satan tried everything to wipe the Church out by sheer force. During this period of history, the Church was persecuted under ten different Emperors with the final ten years being the worst. Jesus says that this Church, although poor in worldly terms was rich in faith. It is of note that the word Smyrna comes from the word “Myrrh; Death” which was used as a fragrant perfume of “offering” in Old Testament times. This seems to aptly describe the Church during this time in history, as its members were being “offered” as living sacrifices. However, during this time the Gospel spread faster than at any other time in history. This is exactly the history of the Nigerian Church. In the days of yore, the Nigerian Church was not attractive, neither was it rich, but it was pure. Well, at least purer than whatever parody we see around today! Contrary to what obtains today, Nigerian Church history clearly reveals how impoverished the Church was in stuffs-material but rich in stuffs-spiritual. In those days, the vocation of the Clergy was neither attractive nor rewarding. Things have since changed since the prosperity gospel commenced in this country. Affluence of the Church and clergy has escalated while character and purity has nosedived. Bro Bosun addressed this anomaly in the Church, but missed it when he went on a clarion call to crucify a Buhari presidency.
Even so, the letter to the Pergamos Church attracts even greater interest. After this time of persecution, Satan changed his tactics. Instead of trying to wipe out the Church, he made “Christianity” acceptable through the conversion of the Emperor Constantine around 312 AD. In gratitude for the reprieve from persecution the Church adopted many pagan rituals and feast days as its own. The Church also became centralized in Rome acting as an extension of imperial authority.How does this apply to the Nigerian Church today? The “pilgrimages” that some notable fathers of faith in Nigeria made to Aso Rock at the instance of the Jonathan administration is unprecedented. The “favours” derived thenceforth has increased the “prosperity” of the respective religious leaders.The Christian Association (CAN) and Pentecostal Fellowship (PFN) leadership became apolitical while the pulpit and pew suffered. Those without such “breakthroughs” are named as not “arrived”. Interestingly, the word Pergamos means “Mixed Marriage”, which is exactly what happened to the Church during this time. The Church got elevated out of persecution and got entangled to the political power of the State. In light of this we must remember Jesus’ words that “His kingdom was not of this world” (John 18:36). The Church, which is His Body was not meant to have political power while this world remained. So the original vision of the Church was polluted from this time forward by the work and actions of men. However, as in all cases, there have been several exceptions. Some Pastors in Nigeria just won’t stoop that low as to count it a privilege to be a guest of the President. They seek greater honours; honours that money, University licences, aircraft or oil rigs can’t purchase!
Again, Brother Bosun has refused to address this perfidy by the Church leaders in Nigeria, rather he calls Buhari a jihadist. Indeed! A jihadist who has had more Christians as domestic staff than Muslims!
Next was the missive to the Thyatira Church. This Church was commended by Jesus Christ for its works of faith, love and patience, but the Church had allowed itself to be corrupted by false teachings and immoral acts. Jesus refers to this as the woman “Jezebel” (See 1 Kings 16:29-33) and He is ready to act against these falsehoods. The woman is to be cast into affliction, those who are allied with her are to suffer great tribulation and her children are to be put to death. The word Thyatira means “Semiramis” or “Continual Sacrifice”. This describes the state of the Roman Church which places great emphasis on “personal sacrifice” in order to “please God”. This whole concept is quite foreign to the truth that Jesus has done all that is required for us to be free from sin. Today, almost all preachers in Nigeria teach congregants to “sow” seeds of faith in order to receive largesse from God. This error has grossly escalated at present. Giving gifts to God is admirable, but giving to God so as to retrieve favour is arrant fraud. We must sow seeds out of love and not out of greed. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Church seems to have raised more of greedy people than lovers of God. However, in this Thyatira church are those who have not accepted these false teachings. Of them Jesus Christ requires nothing, except they cling to the truth until He comes. If we look through the history of Christianity, we see many faithful Saints who clung fearlessly to the truth of Jesus Christ. Many of these lost their lives at the hands of the “Church”.The “Church” killed Christ, anyway!