There is no better time for the naysayers to poke fun at sacred things than now.
All over the media space, the integrity of the church and the men that represent it are being dragged in the mud.
Yes, we have seen twists and turns in the circus show of the political maneuvering ahead 2023 elections. We have seen those who claimed they heard from God about their political positioning being trounced in the political space.
This outcome has made some Christians annoyed at some men of God who had overtly said God had appointed them to certain political positions in very definite language, yet when the chips are down, they are not near there.
Who will not be angry? Each election year, there are pastors who claim to have heard from God. But the people following them soon realise they are on a lone journey, as virtually all such pastors failed woefully when elections are conducted. So what went wrong? Did the men not hear God. Did God not speak?
Do not gloat yet
If you are one of those gloating and poking fun at the just concluded APC primaries as it concerns Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Pastor Tunde Bakare, take a pause and think.
It’s true Pastor Bakare brought the God factor in. It’s true he said God told him he will be number 16. That notwithstanding, it’s important that when things turn this way, we should not allow our emotions to drag us on. God rules in the affairs of men, and the best of our intelligence is foolish before God. So what happened?
As Believers, when things happen like this, what is expected of us is to go back to God and find out what he is saying. Are there precedents to fall back on?
One of the realities that confront us daily as believers is our inability to decode God’s timing. God speaks and he will continue to speak. But we will keep missing his roadmap every time we think in the human sense.
Man has always fallen short of God’s timing. God told Abraham that the children of Israel will be in captivity for 400 years but they were in Egypt; in captivity for 430 years. Was God lying?
The extra 30 years could not have been God’s making. With God, their captivity had ended after 400 years. But there was no available person to carry out the deliverance. In all cases of human deliverance, there is the man factor. When the man is not ready or ill-prepared, God may well not be ready.
Daniel took action when he knew the 70-year desolation of Jerusalem was almost complete
God’s timing does not stop action
But then the timing of God should not stop us from working and making moves. We say man proposes, God disposes. Many are the thoughts of man but the will of God will stand firm.
The recent APC primaries have only shown one thing; that there are men who have the capacity to walk in the midst of perceived wolves and still hold their heads.
It also shows that the political terrain is not an untouchable zone as some Christians may think.
Though one of the undoings of Pastor Bakare is that he is too much of an expressive person. It may seem such that his kind, is not fit for a society where double speak is the order.
But then, he has shown one thing: he could walk in the midst of serpent and scorpion and still come out unscathed.
He has also shown that he has the capacity and the courage to play politics.
What he perhaps needs, which unfortunately he is not getting is the followership from his constituency- the church. And did he also carry the church along? If he were to carry the church along, how many church people are delegates in the just concluded primaries?
The church is too lacklustre and too isolated. The Nigerian church is full of strong men in their individual islands doing their thing. The church as a whole is not strong. Though we know what is good, self ambition and empire-building spirit will not allow us to support our own.
This division is so pronounced and pervasive. This trend will keep killing us if it persists. On the other hand, however, if people are not supportive, we should be able to also look at our modus operandi.
Let’s look at the Bakare example for instance. There are chances that he heard God. But he delayed too much. He perhaps had thought the presidency would fall on his laps. And indeed, there is nothing God cannot do.
An unwilling Jonathan had the grace of getting to the presidency without much ado. But those are instances that come once in a lifetime. In many cases, God expects action from his children.
He should have remained in politics
If for instance, Pastor Bakare had remained active in politics right from the time he was running mate to incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari in 2011, the song will be different today.
But he was not. He has been off and on; shuttling between the pulpit and politics.
The truth that must be told is that wishful thinking does not take power. Is God lying?. He will not lie. It’s one thing to hear a prophecy. It’s another thing to work at the prophecy. Bakare got this revelation long ago from media reports. Why did he remain within the wall of the church?
God is right. He is number 16. But Bakare was wrong. He disappointed God from day one. No doubt that God spoke, what it seems like is that Bakare acted too late.
Indeed, if he had got clearance from God, he should have quit the pulpit some 10 or 20 years ago. He should have invested all his energy in building a strong political network.
It is not by accident that he pastors a church. The structure of his church was one that could have allowed him to go into politics. He has a strong network of friends across the country. He had the grace and capacity.
We have all failed God
But he failed God. He was concerned with pulpit ministry for years. He failed to build an empire of people who will be a support base for the ‘call’ of political leadership. And he is not the only one that has failed God.
Many Christians have been deceived to think their service to God starts and ends on the pulpit. Everybody wants to carry the microphone. And that is why Nigeria is not making any progress.
The good hands especially in the church are tied to activities only within the church wall, while they are supposed to go out and get involved in the different mountains of developments.
It’s sad that the church keeps committing this error year in and year out. I will expect that Bakare would not go back to the pulpit. Let him take up this trade. Let him follow re-evaluate and connect with his maker and get clarity on the role that God has for him to play in the scheme of the political leadership of Nigeria.
He was indeed number 16. And that does not mean a literal number 16. It could well mean he is a man that is next in the heart of God to be president of Nigeria. When it comes to the next president no one can tell. And indeed, we still have to keep our fingers crossed.
But God will not play politics. And he won’t canvass for delegates. You need to understand that God will sometimes tell you he has given you something and yet you have to fight for it.
The example of the children of Israel
Ask the children of Israel. He gave them the land. Yet, he told them to contend for it. That is the sense in the justice system of God. Many times God does not give preferential treatment to his children as many of us would think. He wants his children to merit what they get. He wants us to work. Faith without work is dead on arrival.
Pastor Bakare must have heard from God. But he failed God. The church also failed God and failed Bakare because we did not give him the needed support.
Many of us have also failed to act as quickly as we should in many situations of life. We have done too much talking and less action. We have quoted too many scriptures and yet, no visible result. We live in dreamland and hope that something will fall on our laps. Pastor Bakare did not do well in the sense that he did not move around the country to interface with the delegates. He took the delegates for granted. But do we blame him? What support did he get from the church? Or on the other end, did he reach out to the church as a body?
Never too late
But then it’s never late. This is not time for Bakare and the rest of the Christians who have joined politics to go back to the pulpit. It’s time for them to begin to consolidate on the gains of this present dispensation.
Let the Osinbajos, the Bakares, the Okoties, and other men with character and charisma quit the pulpit and form a synergy to wrest power from the hawks at the helm of Nigeria’s political destiny.
It’s not going to be easy. But if we put it in our hearts that we can do it, we will do it.
It will be counterproductive if the likes of Bakare go back to the pulpit. I agree that Bakare is the pastor of a nation. His likes have the potential. They have the charisma. Let them give up their pulpit roles and commit their all to find a way to rescue this nation.
We all know our strengths. Some of us will not do well if we dare go into partisan politics. But an Osibanjo, a Bakare, an Okotie, and several others have been there. They should stay within the leading parties and begin to stir a change from within. And this does make them less of a Christian and it won’t stop them from preaching the gospel.
God is still speaking
God has spoken and is still speaking to His chosen, but do we hear him?
Is the call of God only to preach? No! The call of God is about character. The people that God will use to change Nigeria are not necessarily preachers. The people God will use are men and women of Character, and wherever they may be, God will use them.
We should also be willing to allow God to use us in his own way without wanting to share of His glory.
Beyond Bakare, there are many others who God has spoken to about political leadership and are pursuing it without much fuss. It is interesting to read of some priests that have emerged as Governorship candidates. We read about them. We didn’t hear about them because they were not talking but working.
God has spoken, but we need men and women who will hear and work it out, not men that will hear and talk it out.
By Gbenga Osinaike