God called Abraham to
build a dynasty of men who fear Him. Abraham did not only understand this
vision of God; he gave his entire life doing it – teaching his children,
servants, slaves and descendants the way of God.
Heaven bore witness to
this success in the core vision of Abraham’s calling and ministry. According to
God, “… for I know him (Abraham), that he will command his children and his
household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and
judgment; …” Gen.18:19. Abraham was so consumed by this vision and
its implementation that he refused to build permanent houses of his abode or
for God’s worship. He went ahead to put
down a code for his descendants that they should permanently de-emphasise building
physical structures. Rather he spent and was spent, building men – the temples
of God. The Holy Ghost, while chronicling the heroes of faith highlighted this
practice of father Abraham in the commendations. It says “by faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land
of promise as in a strange country, “dwelling
in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob”, the heirs with him of the same
promise: “for he looked for a city which
hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God“. (Hebrews 11:9-10 emphasis mine).
In the New Testament, the
scriptures emphasised that God’s temple is not the cement and marble works
dotting everywhere as cathedrals, synagogues, church auditoriums etc. These
undoubtedly are places where men gather to worship God. They are our temples.
But the temple of the Holy Spirit is the entire body – spirit, soul and
(physical) body of the man. 1Cor. 6:19 says, “What? Know ye not that your
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,”.
In man (God’s temple),
does God find expression? In man’s heart, God is worshipped, sanctified and
honoured. Man believes, reflects and represents God on earth. Man is the image
and demonstration of God. God expresses Himself in and through man. Finally,
God (in Christ) is coming back to redeem and rapture man. Of all He has
invested into the earth, God is coming to reap man – him alone.
The above being the
truth, the Church of today seems not understand God’s priority. Our emphases
are riveted on building physical structures – exotic cathedrals, marble altars,
golden pulpits, layered mahogany floors and so on. So much of God’s given
resources are expended on erecting competitive structures and state-of-the-art
electronic and musical equipment. While these exotic worship centres and
apparatus may be good for us human worshippers,
they are far from the agenda and priority of God. He made father Abraham
understand, God, desires us to build quality men, lives in whom the Spirit of
God dwells actively and who are bubbling with their joy of salvation. God wants buildings of men who are saved from
their sins, whose broken hearts are bound (Luke 4: 18).
The most bizarre fact,
and indeed very worrisome, is the abounding presence of poverty-stricken,
heartbroken, sometimes hell-bound, tear-filled, bitter men and women within, and
surrounding the neighbourhood of these gold-plated cathedrals. So many persons
are mourning in our midst. So many are hungry and cannot pick their bills. Very
many persons who worship and fellowship with us are near to cursing God because
of difficulties. If God has increased our wealth, did he not do so to Abraham?
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were stupendously wealthy. But these fathers of our
faith refused to be dragged into building high physical structures, neither for
God nor for themselves. They majored in building men.
Are good buildings for
worship or even for a living bad? – Never. They are right when we recognise
that God who gave us the wealth will only come for men – His temples. In place
of the significant expenditures on exotic cathedrals today, if we spend much of
the resources meeting the needs of the many in our midst and around us, many
will be saved, restored and rekindled.
A young spinster who
finds it difficult to pay her rent for the one-room apartment will sing across
the night if “God” through someone picks that bill. The faith of
pastor’s children will repose on their father’s God if “God” uses the
Church, or any member, to build them a three-bedroom bungalow, as their father
labours in that church that is erecting the marble cathedral.
The gospel will, without
doubt, spread like wildfire if the wealth expended in exotic structures and
entertainment, in the Nigerian church alone, is deployed to evangelising,
building schools, health centres, skill acquisition centres, printing gospel tracts
and sending disciple makers (missionaries) to African countries. Islam is fast
spreading across Africa because wealthy Muslims and Islamic nations are using
their wealth to provide these facilities to poor Africans across the continent.
After the Civil wars in
Liberia and Sierra Leone, devastated most Christian legacies, especially in
education and health sectors in both countries, the Muslims rushed in with
their wealth and started building Islamic schools, hospitals and other
institutions. Unfortunately, Christians are literarily absent in the
reconstructions of these countries. The result is the massive turning to Islam
we observed in Sierra Leone during our medical missions to that, once, the
cradle of Christianity in West Africa.
The Gambia was historically
said to be a Christian country. But conditional gifts from Islamic nations have
successfully, officially, converted her to Islam. The wealth in a cathedral in
an Ikeja Church alone can retake The Gambia for Christ. The same goes for
Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, South Sudan, and so on. If the Nigerian
Church will scale down drastically the monies spent in exotic worship styles
and equipment, and instead channel such funds to soul winning and
life-improvement facilities such as schools and health centres, we can
recapture, (or capture) these our African brothers for Christ.
David Livingstone, Mary
Slessor and their generation of missionaries did the same for us to be
Christians today. These missionaries that brought love and life in Christianity
to us, suffered deprivations and even death – all to build men in Africa for
God. As father Abraham did, our fathers in the New Testament Church- the
Apostles, completely de-emphasised physical structures. They prioritised and
built men for Christ. Apostle Paul clearly stated that his comfort and the
evidence of his ministry were the men whose lives he affected fruitfully for
Brethren, let us prioritise on men, save men, build men, beautify men and bind the many brokenhearted around us – in our fellowships, churches, communities, nation and Africa. These are God’s cathedrals. We should always bear in mind that we are in a strange country and are looking for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. …………