It is a well known fact that Nigerians are very religious people. The people who believe in Christianity go to church every Sunday, and Muslims, mosque every Friday, when we are sick, we don’t say ‘I’m sick’, we say ‘I’m strong’, because we don’t want to project negativity into our lives, we say things like ‘if my enemy dies’ or ‘God forbid if I die’. We are so religious that we don’t even question our pastors or speak against them, because we don’t want to go against ‘men of God’, that will mean sinning against God. We hate homosexuality because the Bible speaks against it, even though a lot of us fornicate or commit adultery, we would vote for which political leader our pastors ordain, and fast and pray wholeheartedly against our physical and spiritual enemies. We even pay tithes in churches with hopes that God will bless us back, we have so much faith that our lives will be better even when we don’t work towards making it any better, we tell ourselves ‘by the grace of God’, as if that’s the only effort we need to put in order to change things. We move from church to church looking for miracles, we put a lot more effort in fasting and going for miracle crusades, than actually working, because we believe the favor of God is all we need. But somehow, we still have a huge gap between the rich and the poor, we have high level of corruption, kidnappings, stealing, cyber crimes etc. How do people who grew up going to church every Sunday end up like that? How do they worship God, but somehow neglect all the teachings about morality, humility etc that are in the Bible? What then is the essence of religion if our morality is only ‘eye service’?
The simple truth to these questions is this, religious leaders in Nigeria, especially pastors, preach prosperity than the true meaning and essence of Christianity. These people make it seem like the very essence of giving your life to Christ is for you to have a better life, which is a big fallacy. Even The Bible said that it would be difficult for a horse to pass through the needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter heaven. Therefore, the reason why materiality has become the reason for becoming Christians is hilarious, to say the least. Take a walk around Lagos and have a look at every church banner, almost everyone would be about inviting people to their church with promises of financial breakthrough or miracles. And then when you go to the church, 70% of the pastor’s preaching is explaining why the people should sow seeds and pay their tithes in the church, so God can bless them in return. I’ve been to a chapel that first prays and blesses the people that paid offering before praying for the others. Of course, that isn’t strange, because there are churches that grade their members with the amount of ‘seed’ they sow in the church.
Many years ago when Christianity started after the death of Christ, its purpose was for Christians to bring their wealth together, and share it among themselves, so that the poorest among them could feed. Christianity did not only reduce the gap among the rich and the poor, it also enhanced moral standards. When Christianity began to spread across Europe, if started my teaching little children about morals, and how to live their lives the way that pleases God. Christianity in Nigeria on the other hand places less value on morals, it teaches people that the reason they should come closer to God is to become wealthy, as if being a Christian automatically guarantees a fatter bank account.
Christianity in our society has fraudsters coming to church to pay tithes, the most corrupt politicians coming to ask for blessings. It basically puts pressure on the audience to become wealthy to they can give to the church and become recognized by the church and its members. Christianity in our country is structuralized like a cult, one for the rich. Which is very distasteful. It should be taught as a way of life, with less value on money. It should teach people about honesty, kindness, meekness and so on, because true Christianity brings joy, happiness and fulfillment. The Bible itself is a guide to life, because it preaches against everything that is morally wrong like getting drunk, spending time wisely, honesty, patience, it also is a source of motivation, among many others.
The backbone of Christianity in Nigeria isn’t only wrong, but troubling. It promotes ignorance and obsession with material things to large extent. If the very institution that should promote morality focuses mainly on wealth acquirement, then we can be sure we are doomed.
If Christianity in Nigeria can reorient itself and operate by its true original purpose that involves sharing, then we can be sure that morality in Nigeria will become better. Let it be more about sharing, not paying tithes to pastors that spend it on acquiring private jets, while their congregation wear one outfit to church every Sunday. Let it not be a room for fraudsters to come and show off their cars and offer millions of naira as offering to oppress the poor. Let it be a safe place, a place of joy and hope, a place of happiness and fulfillment. Let the churches be like the homes of Christians, because it is their home.