It is disheartening to see and read about what the church of God has been reduced to, especially in Nigeria. When Jesus said "I will build my church", obviously He was not talking about putting bricks and mortals together at the time. The church He was simply talking about, in context, are people; those who have been redeemed, called out of the kingdom of darkness into His marvellous and glorious light. These were the people Jesus was talking about that He was going to build.
But when you see the inglorious things happening in His church today, especially lately in Nigeria, it calls for a serious retrospection on what might probably be the future destiny of the Nigerian church, if adequate care is not taking.
Just like when Jesus admonished us to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, there seems to be a lot of wolves parading themselves as shepherds, and the undiscerning are falling preys by their numbers to their gimmicks. When apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:1 to "test all spirits", it is because not all spirits are from God. There are demonic spirits as well, and the onus rests on the believer to know which one is of the Lord and which one is not.
When I read about believers narrating their terrible ordeals in the hands of their pastors and their supposed men of God, men and women that they have looked up to as their spiritual fathers and mentors, I simply concluded that it is because many of these believers have failed in this important responsibility of testing all spirits.
It is not everyone that claims he has a call of God upon his or her life that have truly been called by God. There are fake pastors and there are fake prophets and teachers. And the truth of the matter is that Jesus foretold that all these things will happen. In Mathew 24:24, Jesus said "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." I believe when you take a cursory look around, you must have witnessed Jesus' words coming to pass.
Also, apostle Paul wrote to Timothy on how the people themselves would bring upon themselves their own problems. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, he wrote to Timothy saying "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (People would reject sound biblical doctrines because it does not suit their narratives and lifestyles [emphasis mine]), but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers (In other words, they will go after those who preaches and teaches what goes well with their ways of living, looking for churches where they can be comfortable, because they just don't want to hear the truth), and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
Many today would rather go after fables than go after the truth. People would rather go after flashy pastors, flashy churches, happening places just because they are looking for places of worship that accommodates their immodest and unrepentant lifestyles. Many believers claim to love the Lord, but they still want to partake in the largesse that the world has to offer. This is where the conflict of interest lies, and where many lose the sense of discernment.
Now, what we see happening in the Nigerian church today are largely a lack of discernment. There is a reason why "discerning of spirits" is part of the gift of the Holy Spirit to a believer (1 Corinthians 12). I mean, why should a believer be raped by her pastor if she is discerning enough to know from the onset that this person is not truly a man of God as he or she have claimed to be? The truth is, these signs are always there.
From that moment, when the pastor begins to throw certain signs at you, some unholy and untoward signs; not spiritual enough for a believer, that is when your spiritual sensitivity (if truly you are a child of God and have yielded your spirit totally to the leading of the Holy Spirit) is supposed to have come alive, and then you flee all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Let us even begin from here: In the first place, how did you come about your pastor? Did you choose who you currently refer to as your pastor or God gave him or her to you to be your pastor? Because, we must all understand how these things work. No one chooses who his or her pastor is. It is not something that should be done in the flesh. God Himself said "I will give you pastors after my own heart" (Jeremiah 3:15). If we are to go by that statement, that means it is God who allocates pastors or shepherds to His children. It is not our responsibility to do that. But what do we have happening these days? People go about choosing their pastors as their flesh leads them.
When God said "I will give you pastors after my own heart", I am sure He meant it. The question is: How many of us prayerfully considered before we submitted our spiritual destinies to whoever it is that is currently pastoring us? How many of us chose our pastors because he or she is good looking, probably have his or her hair jerry curled or wears the most expensive materials every Sunday? These are the mundane things that moves people into attending some churches or accepting certain men of God to be referred to as their pastor. But it is the wrong way of going about it.
It is God who gives His children shepherds, just as we read in Jeremiah 3:15 and not your responsibilities. It is God who also plants you in churches. Psalm 68:6a says "God sets the solitary in families..." God must be at the centre of your decision when you are considering the church to attend or who pastors you. We must understand that these matters are matters of discernment, and if believers don't get the basis, there would always be a story of how a pastor raped a minor or a teenager in the body of Christ in Nigeria or even elsewhere. The matters of knowing which particular church to attend, who should be one's pastor are spiritual matters, and they must be taken that way if there is ever going to be any positive outcome out of it.
I believe this piece have inspired you and to know the real truth about how to go about choosing who to pastor you or the church you should even attend in the first place. Now get up and do the right thing from today. I pray that God will help us all in Jesus' name.
[Centre for New Dimension Leadership]