By Olatokunbo Odunuga
There is the popular song, “All other gods, they are the works of men. You are the only one, there is none like you. …..”
Over 10 years ago on the TV, I witnessed Dr. Tunde Bakare, after singing this song asked the question: who are the men? He asked the question, I think, thrice for emphasis. I have read God’s pronouncement in Exo. 20:3 that man must have no other god besides Him.
But, as also observed by that fiery preacher, the very first man to make other god in the wilderness church besides the Almighty God was Aaron.
For crying out loud! The venerable high priest, who was in the gap for Israel, God’s own special people in that generation. And that precedence of about 3,500 years ago had been running down through the ages, such that in our contemporary time, it seems some Christian institutions have been in the business of making or installing other gods.
About 3,220 years ago, even the supposedly wisest of men, Solomon was the one who built temples for pagan gods to please his 700 wives and 301 concubines. In the Old Testament times, the priests and leaders boldly erected gods – either the molten calf of Aaron or the gigantic 90ft by 9ft golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, etc.
2.0 The other gods of this present age are typically very subtle – not necessarily such that one physically sees to bow before. Some men of God may even decide to set themselves up as other gods. I have seen and heard of servants, I mean contemporaries men of God that demand more than modest courtesy and humble respect from their brethren. If you do not address some of such leaders by some specific titles or bow down low before them, you may not receive their audience. And if you are serving under such men of God, your hierarchical “promotion”, even though lacking scriptural warrant, may be in jeopardy, or your next, if not immediate “posting” may be to some remote “unlucrative” (“non-juicy”) assembly.
And some equally deluded and covetous ministers detest the “non-juicy” postings. Such men of God, desiring worship seem to be ‘forgetful hearers’ of Acts 10: 26 where Peter, a foremost apostle forbids someone who was even yet to be converted, Cornelius to prostrate before him, not to talk of ministers. Hear Peter, who has passed heaven’s awaiting result list: “Stand up. I too am a mere mortal”. Even in Rev. 19: 10, an angel that is mightier than any man in this present age, who could single-handedly make a casualty of 185,000 fully-armed men overnight (2kg. 19: 35) refused to accept the worship from John. Hear the angel: “Do not do this. I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers…”. I have observed that many are disposed to operate in defiance of the pattern of scriptures or of the Holy Spirit. Social media is replete with such examples.
Mammon, irresistible god
3.0 It is no longer a secret or classified information that issues such as titles, human applause, many other matters, and of course, Money, had become other gods. It seems as if the Almighty God is “apprehensive” of this powerful and seemingly irresistible god, Rev. Mammon. That is why, of everything else in the universe, Lord Jesus declared – “you cannot serve God and Money (Mt. 6:24) and “you cannot serve God and the Bank” – Lk. 16:13 (Message Bible).
About two decades ago, a Bank official, also a Church deacon, sought my counsel if it was proper for him to obey his supervising Manager to “manipulate” figures in order to please customers’ wish. I asked him to consult with the Holy Spirit. I’m not Holy Spirit and didn’t want him to use me to endorse the compromise position he had chosen, to retain his position and relevance within the Bank.
Well, dear Bank Manager, you need not despair, because even though it is difficult for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye, with God all things are still possible, especially if one is a Bank Manager in certain peculiar African countries, only you need to watch and pray more earnestly. I have often wondered why the Lord did not say – ‘You cannot serve God and the devil’.
It seems Mammon (Money) is more to be dreaded, more formidable, more subtle and more seductive than the Devil. A believer can command – “Devil (Demon), I cast you out’’ but when it comes to Money, the rocket-sounding response, in 99 out of 100 instances will not be, “I resist or reject you, you foul spirit” but, ‘I claim it’ or ‘I receive it’
4.0 Paul saw afar off that ‘The love of money is a [not the] root of all evils. (1 Tim. 6:10). Love of money is just one of many roots of all evils. Aren’t we surprised that Paul did not even say that friendship with the Devil, which is a word derived from evil, is the root? In comparison with Money,
I think the Devil is merely the ‘leaf’ of all evils as men can resist him or cast him out readily in the name of Jesus. And even Mr. Self can wax stronger than Satan because it is a resident evil. If Mammon is not at least the Chief of General Staff or Garrison Commander of Hell, how come it does not often occur to some of our evangelists that it is not scriptural to collect offerings at open-air crusades – a mixed multitude of believers, unbelievers, pagans, miscreants, etc of people seeking for God; others seeking for what would enhance their lives and others there to pickpockets. Read – Ezra 4:1-3, III Jn. 7, the latter in The Living Bible etc.
We are told in 1 Peter 2: 21-23 that Christ gave examples for us to follow in His steps. In one of His open-air “crusade”, 5000 men (women and children not included) were ministered to for 3 days, fed, healed, and no “offering time, blessing time”.
As I had shared before, I am yet to hear an evangelist say to people and couples in the field – “If you are here on this ground, and you are not ‘born-again’, please do not drop any offering. You have to first give your life. And if you are a believer and you have an issue to settle with your spouse or your neighbours, do not drop your offering now. Go and resolve the issue first and give your offering next time or elsewhere (Matt. 5:23-24, III John 7, 2 Cor. 8:5).
Rather the evangelist will fish out a juicy, non-contextual scripture, take it to the dry-cleaners in 15-20 minutes ‘powerful’ emotion-stirring exhortation to collect offerings and seeds. The opening and closing prayers may not last 5 minutes.
5.0 It is now quite popular to hear the man of God, winding and kick-starting his flock to sow seed, which they may have no heart desire to oblige. In essence, it is done by compulsion or coercion not by faith and the Bible declares that whatever is not of faith is sin. So, the man of God, at the same time a god of men is inadvertently “brewing” or mass-producing sinners in his assembly.
Even then It would not be a surprise if in the years ahead, these young new generation pastors, especially the seed-faith advocates with American orientation, design new modules for last fruits and last born offerings. About 15 years ago, I was pronouncing blessings on some firstborns. Later it occurred to me that biblically, the firstborn is the one to first open the womb (Exodus 13: 2; Lk. 2 :23).
Later I was asking myself some pertinent questions. How would I know if the mothers of those people have committed abortions of previous pregnancies? What if these mothers have had legitimate miscarriage(s) before them? What if their senior brothers are not alive or had even died shortly after birth, just like my own situation? What if some of them are the children of second or third wives etc because I don’t think that Christians’ God recognizes the first son of wife No 2, 3 or 4, etc as firstborn in this dispensation, apart from the fact that the Law is no longer in vogue. When I observe these episodes, I realize that one needs help from God to establish the authentic or legitimate firstborn in a generation that tends towards promiscuity.
6.0 Meanwhile diverse shades of offerings are gathering prominence at the spur of other gods. I recall an uncle years back, who was a general overseer. Whenever I was in his church, one needed to pray that he would not collect more than five offerings on a Sunday. He used to collect separate offerings for electricity bills. He was a pleasant, amiable, good-hearted minister.
So, I concluded then that my uncle had the error of the head, not necessarily of the heart. If Peter had installed himself in the posture of another god, Paul would probably not have had the courage to confront him with a rebuke (Galatians 2: 11). Similarly, Barnabas, who was a “mentor” to Paul would not have taken it lightly when Paul indicted him if Barnabas had set himself up as another god (Galatians 2: 13). Talk of humility and ‘approachability’ of our Lord! Peter wouldn’t also have had the audacity to rebuke the Man Christ Jesus if at that point in time He had paraded Himself with the air of God the Father (Mark 8: 33).
Brethren, let us take a thoughtful look at the terrain of Christendom and also whatever god (s) you and I could observe in our own hearts. Remember God’s warning in Jeremiah 10:11, “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens”. Beloved, let’s take it to our God in prayers for Him to destabilize and dethrone all these other gods, enthroned by us or in us.
God bless you
Odunuga is an elder in the Redeemed Christian Church of God