We once define religious capitalism as a system of religion where money is seen as the ultimate value; a system of religion where the rich are getting richer whereas the poor are getting poorer. In this system of worship the men of God revere the rich as if they are gods. They give them all kinds of awards and recognitions not minding how or where they got their wealth. Churches are no longer rated base on how many souls they are able to win into God’s kingdom but base on wealth and properties of Church leaders. That is why most Church leaders are competing on who has the best Church building and who is able to afford a private jet.
Pope Francis describes religious capitalism as another form of idolatry. “The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money…” Instead of worshipping God, most Church goers are now worshipping money and wealthy ones. The love of money remains the root of all evil. Unfortunately, as the Holy Father truly observed Money, which he describes as the ancient golden calf has become the centre and the essence of our worship. Whereas, Jesus Christ is the essence Christianity and the center of Christian worship.
Religious capitalism has nothing to do with Christianity. It has nothing to do with the life and doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder, Mahatma Gandhi declared, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Most Christians are unlike Christ because they are not following the teachings of Christ. Most of them have invented their own doctrines, which justifies religious capitalism – all in the name of Christianity.
One of the reasons why people are beginning to hate the Christians is because of their love for money and of course, their hatred and jealous of their fellow Christians. They are not even united! In the name of denominations Christians have end up dividing and separating themselves, as though they are preaching separate Christ. The more the denominations the more they are divided. Everybody wants to answer a General Overseer.
We have so many Christians in Nigeria yet Nigeria is rated among the most corrupt countries in the world. Most of the political leaders in Nigeria are Christians, yet people are fed up with bad governance. Our religious leaders are feeling less concern because they are comfortable. Even if workers and pensioners are not paid, at least they are sure of their tithes, offerings and even levies.
In Acts 11:26, the apostles were first called “Christians” because they were actually following the examples of Jesus Christ. They were living in love and unity. They shared everything they had in common. You can hardly find anyone among them that was in need. They supported themselves and they lived exemplary lives as recorded in Acts of Apostles, especially chapters two and four.
Christians are not just the followers of Christ, they are the image of the invisible Christ in the world. They are Christ’ ambassador in the world. In fact, to see a true Christian is to see Christ. With this, they were able to win more converts in various parts of the world. Here in Africa we have so many church goers but unfortunately, we only have few Christians – few Christians who represent Jesus Christ in all aspect of their lives! I hope you are among those few ones!
Jesus himself declares “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23). Not all that glitters is gold. Not all those who carry bible are true Christians. Judgment day fast approaching when we shall know the true Christians. May we not be rejected on the last day!
A tree Christian is not just one who is baptized and confirmed in the Church. It is not just those confess Christ as their Lord and Saviour. A true Christian is not just someone who donated a building or landed property to the church. True Christians are not even those who occupy leadership positions in the church. How then can we know the true Christians? What are the essential qualities of Christianity?
Indeed, by their fruits we shall know them! (Matthew 7:15-16). The day the Churches in Africa will start practicing true Christianity will be a day when all the church members will be treated with equal respect, love and dignity. It is a day when the religious leaders will start respecting people for whom they are and not on what they possess or their position in the society.
The day African churches will start practicing true Christianity will be a day when a liter of anointing water will be sold at the same prize or even less with the prize of a liter of refined fuel. It is on a day when one does not have to bribe someone or even pay through his nose before booking an appointment with a Bishop or a general oversea.
The day African churches will start practicing true Christianity is a day when the men of God will conduct a programme without fund raising and seed sowing – a day when the Christians will start loving and caring for each other without considering their tribe or race. It is also a day when there will be no hatred and segregation amongst the various denominations that make up the Christendom. Christians will then see themselves as brothers and sisters irrespective of their denominations.
The day Africans will start practicing true Christianity is a day when the so-called men of God will stop envying themselves, fighting themselves and even destroying each other’s reputation in the name of religious politics; but a day when all the men of God in Africa will work together for the welfare of the masses and for the salvation of souls.
The day the Church will start practicing true Christianity is a day when they will start preaching the undiluted word of God; a day when men of God will start calling a spade a spade, a day when they will be bold enough to confront the injustice in the land without fear or favouritism. it is a day when our preachers will not just tell people what they want to hear but what they have to hear for the salvation of their souls.
The day Africans will start practicing true Christianity is a day when the various Churches in Africa will take the issue of youth liberation and youth empowerment seriously. It is a day when the Church will take it upon themselves to support the orphans, the widows, the aged, the handicapped and other vulnerable people in the society.
The day the churches in Africa will start practicing true Christianity will be a day when the various religious organizations in Africa will model their lives according to James 1:27 which states, “Religion that is pure and undefiled is to visit the orphans and widows and their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world.” It is a day when Men of God and Religious leaders will take seriously the mandate given to them by our Lord Jesus when he said, “Feed my sheep.” and not feeding on the sheep!
The day the African Churches will start practicing true Christianity is a day when the privileged Churches, those in urban cities will start supporting the churches at the rural areas, especially in those areas where their fellow men of God could not even afford their daily bread though their offerings. It is a day when the Church in the big cities will stop destroying structures, building and rebuilding for lack of space, instead the excess money will be used to support the poor Churches, and even the poor members in the Church.
Above all, it is day when all the Churches in Africa will speak and understand one common language which is the language of love!
Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie, OCD
Email: [email protected]