The phrase, “thus saith the Lord” has been used to mislead several people who don’t have direct spiritual connection with God. In 1970, a man called Olufunmilayo Odumosu, whom until his point of fame was a carpenter at Oyingbo, Lagos suddenly became popular.
Fondly referred to as the ‘Jesus of Oyingbo’, he gathered various believers across the length and breadth of the country and proclaimed to his convert that God sent him directly to save the world. What was peculiar to his doctrine is the requirement for members to be beaten with canes nine (9) times before joining his ministry.
His church, Universal College of Regeneration grew astronomically and couldn’t contain his congregation, that he had to move to Maryland in the same Lagos. On countless times he prophesied to his members that his mission on earth was divine and would not die and truthfully, he was around for nearly two decades until January 1988, when the cold hands of death took him.
While he was alive, his disciples referred to him and equally believed he was the Lord and saviour as he convinced them with his numerous visions and proclamations. With the advent of the social media and the sudden fame that comes with it, one begins to wonder how extremely popular “Jesus of Oyingbo” would have been if his ministry had existed in this era.
As a country, several pertinent questions beg for answers after the general election, one of which is whether we operate on the premises of gambling or reality. More often now, we see young people trooping into various sporting centres or probably use their personal phones to accurately predict the football clubs that will likely win the various leagues, thereby winning millions of naira from each of the sporting bet companies.
Can one thereby assume that those people can predict the fortune/future of this country? Was the right prediction of scores teleported to them, making it easy for them to acquire wealth through sport betting? In January 2006 when Governor Rasheed Ladoja was impeached in Ibadan, the then deputy governor, Otunba Alao Akala, first rushed to Baba Adedibu, their perceived godfather to appreciate him for creating a vacuum and thereby providing an opportunity to become the governor of the state.
Shortly after that, he started visiting all the churches in the state to appreciate them for the support and how the vision of being the governor came to pass. The opportunity was short-lived as the court threw him out but he came back as the elected governor of the state in 2007.
Having become the darling of most churches across the state, the former Governor kept donating millions of the state to each of the churches because he felt the prophesy came from the church and he was the anointed one. In fact, all through the tenure of Governor Akala in Oyo state, many churches turned to praise singers, political activists and crusader for the government instead of focusing on the soul searching, preaching, and winning mandate as expected by the holy book.
Surprisingly, he couldn’t come back in 2011 and lost the subsequent elections despite his generosity to the church. The above shows Peter Obi wasn’t the first man to use the church as a shield and tool for his campaign. He only expanded the channel to the high heavens.
Recently, many of the religious leaders across the country are leading protests for political causes and are turning into psychologists, psychiatrists and social scientists in a bid to satisfy the emotional needs of their congregation. This brings into remembrance the issue of Reverend Mbaka, who in 2015 deviated from his doctrinal guidelines, with his support for President Muhammadu Buhari and constant personal attacks against the Former President, Goodluck Jonathan which almost made the populace question his calling.
Fortunately for him, President Buhari won the election and he kept on with his defence of the government up until 2021 when he called for the impeachment of the President whom many believed he was instrumental in bringing into power.
While the populace was still struggling to understand the reason behind the drastic turn of events, it was nothing but shocking to discover from the Presidential Spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu that the Reverend Father’s attempt to secure a government contract failed, hence the tantrums on all social media platforms.
It was at this point that some Nigerians started seeing through the thick walls of religion and its predictive hypothesis through which the minds of the congregation are twisted in concurrence with the emotional drive of the priest. Though, several of these stories abound and onlookers consider this as a form of bondage, it is appalling that the victims find it difficult to emancipate themselves from these highly revered priests whose opinion are considered sacrosanct and spirit-driven.
Unfortunately, this act is rampant all over the world and it appears that men are trying to speak for God instead of allowing God to speak for himself. Alas, it appears everyone wants to be the Moses, Isaiah, or even the Paul who can speak from personal knowledge of God. As a matter of fact, in this golden age, we have men of God that practice Christian anarchy.
They reject the democracy installed by the government and are hell bent on not agreeing with the government of the day by doing anything from the altar to protest against the laws of the land. On their own, they are raising a congregation filled with hate and hence, are missing the instructions in Romans 13:1 to the effect that “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established”.
Just about seven months ago when the presidential candidate of the ruling party chose his running mate, the country had a mixed feeling which ordinarily is expected because of the dangerous times we are in and the fragility of the country’s democracy.
To Christians, the act of the candidate was extreme and insensitive as they have been persecuted over the years in Nigeria and the current government does less to appeal to christendom. Citing clear cases of Leah Sharibu, who is being held captive by the dreaded boko-haram due to her faith as well as the killing of Deborah in Sokoto, many expressed their views against the decision.
What was however unexpected was the act of some Christian leaders who rushed to the pulpit to condemn and threaten the nation on the choice made by a political party. Among many Christian leaders that opposed the same faith candidate and felt such was an insult on the Christian body was a popular female pastor, Sarah Omakwu who immediately the All Progressive Congress presidential candidate announced his running mate and for a continuous period of 6 months declared on her pulpit that all Christians must vote for Christians.
No matter how you view the pastor’s message, it is a case of making a personal call on the altar of God. While no one is faulting her for canvassing for her candidate as electoral decisions are personal, what cannot be excused was her going ballistic, threatening the nation and inciting the populace against the President-elect when her choice candidate lost.
That behaviour is what one can liken to Christian anarchy which the bible warned against in Roman 13:2 “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves”.
The question then is, ‘ to what end are people using the altar of God to inflate the anger and aggression of citizens against the leadership of a country?’ As such, it is advisable that such leaders while making their thoughts known not colour it with God’s , instructions and allow their followers make sane individual decisions.
One would even wonder if Christianity is the only religion in this country as you would hardly see a Muslim cleric engage in such politically hinged prophesying during a regular Friday Jumat prayer. What they rather do is to make their minds known to their followers, on issues of marriage, society and politics without hanging their thoughts on any divine power.
This is not the same with our Christian brothers, who the moment they are on the pulpit want their followers to believe that whatever comes out from them is from God Almighty. Rather than differentiating their thought or feelings from the gospel, they relay everything as if it’s the almighty that’s speaking. Just about a year ago, a popular pastor announced to his congregation in Lagos that he will be 16th president of Nigeria.
In his speech, “I carry grace, I carry favour, I carry God factor…” but at the end, he wasn’t able to get just one vote at the party’s primary election. Another one used God’s name on three different occasions but alas, he hasn’t stepped foot at the presidential villa.
An in-depth analysis of what played out at the last general election would reveal nothing but an act of garnering support for personal ambition, opinion and choices by some Christian leaders which has now misled some followers and bred hate in the society.
In the last US presidential election, most of the Christian leaders in the United States queued behind Donald Trump, prayed and anointed him at various gatherings. President Joe Biden was perceived as an anti-christ candidate but at the end of it all, he whom God had designated for the period emerged.
I could remember the foremost Christian leader, Pastor Enoch Adeboye at a point said “My assignment is to pray for you, pray for nation, my assignment has nothing to do with partisan politics, don’t distract my attention…”. As a respected man of God filled with the Holy Spirit, he knew his mission on earth and wasn’t ready to allow the things of this world to distract him.
Of a truth, the general election has come and gone and a winner has emerged. It is expected that religious leaders who have deviated and used the altar of God to declare “thus saith the Lord” will seek the face of the Lord and refocus on their God-sent mission.
They should ensure to foster the peace and progress of this nation, pray more for the country as what the nation needs is total healing which is achievable when great men join hands, re-echo the need for our unity and plead for mercy.