In most medieval movies where magic, oracles, ancient gods and other spiritual stuff are emphasized, we see where warnings and prophecies about impending danger are issued but yet we see the protagonists still go ahead to do the exact foolhardy things they had been warned to be wary of. Eventually all the foolhardiness culminates into the outcome the people had been warned about and we all wonder, what is wrong with us human beings? With all the warnings and signs, why would the protagonists stubbornly plough ahead only to end up in doom? Then we answer our own questions by thinking, it’s just a movie. The funny thing however is that, such headstrong refusal to heed warnings is not just a movie thing; it’s a real human imperfection.
When a particular method is employed in killing most animals, like rats for instance, surviving animals learn and tend to avoid repeating the folly that got their kind killed. Humans on the other hand are a different ball game. We are mostly arrogant or defiant by nature and so we keep refusing to turn away from that which destroyed our predecessors, believing that we know something those that fell earlier didn’t know. For example, we hear that a country’s penalty for drug trafficking is death and we hear of offenders actually being put to death, yet some of us still try to beat that system and defiantly try to do the drug business. In objective fairness though, I must say that it is this quality that separates humans from other animals and has ensured human advancement in various facets of life; our persistent stubbornness in the face of threats and challenges has led to groundbreaking discoveries numerously. Truthfully also, this same persistent stubbornness has been our undoing on many occasions.
What have I been yapping about? I saw reports on various online platforms about an Abuja church that doled out $100 to members after service. The comments that trailed the reports were quite amusing; most people actually thought the money sharing made sense. I want to emphasize that the affirmative reactions most people exhibited didn’t surprise me at all, they just amused me and got me wondering, ‘how come people don’t see (or choose to ignore) their folly despite all the Bible warnings?’ The Bible is the Christian manual and major reference of guidance for Christians, that same Bible clearly and persistently warns about mammon/ money and falsehood in later day churches, yet just as the Bible warned, hordes of people are still being led astray (Matt 24:11, Luke 16:13, 1Tim 6:10, 1John 4:1, et al). The human contradiction is so intriguing; how can a creature be so smart, yet so gullible?
The superstructure of society is anchored in certain factors, chief among which are economy, politics and religion. Interestingly, the economy exerts overwhelming influence on the other two, thus effectively monetizing them. Now, a very interesting thing is that, whereas almost all of us will agree on how much money has corrupted politics in our society, most people won’t agree likewise about their churches where the pastors’ romance and strategy with money is as glaring as the politicians’ (this is despite the Bible itself repeatedly foretelling this occurrence). I have grappled to get the rationale behind spontaneously doling out money to people for attending church service and no sensible answer has come to my mind. One of those who commented on one of the platforms argued that it was a member who provided the money to be shared as part of seed sowing and I thought, sowing of seed is good, but what criteria guided the distribution of the seed?
Now let’s examine Christ and the issue of criteria for a bit. On two occasions (Matt. 14:15-20 and Matt. 15:32-37) Jesus did a similar kind of bonanza though not with money but food, however, the sharing principle to a gathering is identical. Now, read those verses and observe that the people Christ fed on both occasions were in the desert/wilderness, had no provisions and far from where they could buy even if they wanted to, so Jesus had to intervene because the people needed to eat immediately but were miles away from food. The criteria in both cases were ‘need and location’. Had they been within the city where they could buy food or had majority of the multitude come with enough food for all to share, it is most unlikely Jesus would have done what he did.
Also, let’s look at the issue of paying tribute (Matt. 17:24-27). When Jesus was required to pay tribute in Capernaum, he asked Peter to go to the sea, cast a hook and reel in the first fish, then open its mouth, retrieve the piece of money therein and pay tribute for both of them. It is clear Christ could just raise pocket money to carry around since it was obvious he would always encounter needs for money but he only acted when he had need to. The colt in Matt. 21:2 is another example.
What I am trying to establish here is that Jesus always did things with reason and not just for show. His actions were always directed at supplying specific needs or resolving specific challenges and if we are true followers of Christ, what was the $100 distribution meant to achieve. Was the money shared randomly or were people who needed it actually singled out? I ask because it won’t make sense to give $100 to a millionaire member who has no need for it and also give same to a poor member whose major problem at that moment is N50,000 rent money. Some might argue that at least the poor man had gotten part of the rent, but that is ridiculous because the full rent could have been afforded and a problem effectively solved, moreover part or all of that $100 could end up going into quelling the crisis that could arise from non-payment of that rent if for instance the landlord is the troublesome type and then the poor man would be back to square one. Anyway from the look of things the $100 seemed to have been shared ‘political rally style’, the primary desire of the sharers being to buy undying loyalty and judging from majority of the comments, the sharers were quite successful in winning the desired followership.
From a secular angle, another politically symbolic thing people don’t understand its implication in international relations is the use of another nation’s currency within the territory of another nation when it’s absolutely unnecessary. Many who do not understand the dynamics of international politics can’t appreciate the symbolic implications of something as simplistic as sharing money within Nigeria, to mostly Nigerians in dollars. It tends to subconsciously project Nigeria as an American outpost or at least reaffirms America’s claim to big brother status over us; so when America persistently tries to bully us, let us know that we surreptitiously encourage it by certain seemingly unassuming acts. This is where we need to learn from giants like China and even America how to guard our national image and amplify it; our currency is part of that national image. If the Naira equivalent of $100 is bulky to carry physically, then get account numbers and do electronic banking, but I am sure doing something as discreet as e-banking won’t help the intended vain showmanship which inspired the money sharing in ‘hard currency’.
I enjoin Christians to wake up from the slumber and read their Bibles. The very things the Bible asked us to be wary of are happening and we are helping propagate them. Those things we watch in most of those ‘end time’ movies and declare “it is not my portion” are happening and surprisingly most of us are enjoying the ride and enthusiastically heading to perdition unknowingly just like some gullible folks do in those movies. The major creed of Christianity is to attain salvation and escape damnation, it will be painfully ironic for people to dedicate their lives to pursuing that salvation only to end up in damnation having been duped.
Matt. 21:12 &13 and Acts 8:18-21 respectively show the reactions of Jesus and the apostles to issues of money taking precedence in the things of God. In Luke 18:22-25, Christ himself asked the rich man who came calling to sell all he had and distribute to the poor, he didn’t ask the man to bring the riches to him.
Finally, I see no problem with the church doing due diligence on members and quietly rendering financial help to those in need, but when it comes to the ‘political rally music video show style’ of making money rain (like some rap artists put it), I don’t believe our dearly beloved Christ will be cool with it.
Chukwudi Madu is a Contributing Editor at The Trent; a writer focused on creative writing, copywriting and technical writing. He is a proud alumnus of the prestigious Government College Umuahia (following in the steps of great Umuahians like Chinua Achebe, Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, Elechi Amadi, I. N. C. Aniebo, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Christopher Okigbo) and an alumnus of the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He tweets @maduchuddi. His Facebook page is HERE. You can buy his books HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.