By Jude Obuseh
There is a critical issue of life and death that most of us take for granted, but which will ultimately determine our eternal relationship with our creator-owner–Jehovah – when we exit this physical plain: “Spiritual Wealth”, which is the major theme of the Bible and which, despite having been muffled by the prosperity doctrines of some of today’s churches, will ultimately determine our final destination after judgment day. Whether we are going to “Heaven” or “Hell” will be determined by the kind of wealth we choose to acquire on this earthly plain.
The seductive doctrines of some contemporary prosperity churches have largely coloured the Bible’s connotations of true wealth. With particular reference to Third World countries, where the harsh economic realities have transformed people into Tele-guided zombies, who are susceptible to the manipulations of false religious doctrines, the wrong notions of wealth have found willing disciples.
Today, Christianity is no longer about salvation, holiness, righteousness, love, forgiveness, tolerance, patience, meekness, humility, and other heavenly virtues, but about what one can grab and enjoy on this earthly plain. when you attend some church services, only scant attention is given to the future joys of heavenly bliss, as our fake apostles of moral correctness focus basically on earthly prosperity, in their morbid greed to swell the size of their congregations and make more money from the tithes and offerings of their ignorant, miracle-seeking disciples. This is quite unfortunate, for when the supposed shepherds of the lord totally deviate from the core dictates of their “calling” to focus on fleeting earthly issues, it calls for serious concern.
The idea of material prosperity at the expense of spiritual increase is alien to the core teachings of Christianity as enthused by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a Western capitalist idea that was inserted into the pure teachings of Christianity after the religion came in contact with Europe, and later, America, in later centuries, after the followers of Christ were first called “Christians” at Antioch; a Mercantilist ideology that was meant to justify the debauched and greed-driven aims of the so-called system of free enterprise; a Satanic infusion into the undiluted teachings of the Bible; demonic insertions that were meant to divert the elect from focusing on acquiring the only true wealth that matters: An eternal, boundless, and unconditional spiritual relationship with God, through the benevolent sacrifice of His son, our Lord and personal Saviour, Jesus the Christ – the only relationship that can guarantee us true wealth in this life and in the hereafter.
Prosperity gospels have created a very materialistic generation which believes that everything begins and ends on this earth. If I may ask, how many of today’s professed Christians believe in an afterlife? How many Christians believe that heaven and hellfire are not mere myths? How many Christians truly believe in the Bible and the existence of God? If one does a rough sampling of opinions centered around these pertinent questions, the answers that are likely to emanate from such an enquiry is the painful truth that most of the people you see masquerading as Christians are not really Christians in the Biblical sense, but a bunch of self-seeking, self-deceiving, self-righteous, attention-seekers, who have lost their way and have not realized it; worshipers of Mammon, who, in their quest for money, power, reverence, fame, and connections, have relegated the love of God to the background.
In their selfish cravings after material wealth, some Christians have sold their souls to the Devil (1 Timothy 6:10). Some of today’s Christians engage in the most contemptible enterprises in their desperate quests to “make it”. From advanced fee fraudsters, con artists, armed robbers, hired assassins, corrupt politicians, ritual killers, kidnappers, commercial sex workers, gossips, backbiters and backstabbers, mudslingers, to other despicable characters too numerous to mention, our churches have become assemblies of caterpillars; evil melting pots where the incarnates of Satan converge from time to time to blaspheme the spotless name of the Lord; covens where witches and warlocks whose unbridled love for money, power, fame, and respect, rendezvous.
The most annoying part of the whole madness is the shameless manner some of our church ministers – “proprietors” is more appropriate – honour these angels of darkness with the most revered positions – Elders, Deacons, etc – in their churches. A visit to some churches will be heartbreaking experiences for some highly perceptive members of the public, who will be shocked to witness, first hand, the hypocrisies that the worship of God has become muddled up in, as they will be faced with the gospel truth that some churches are actually havens for thieves, murderers, and other shady characters; that most church leaders don’t practice what they preach; that while overtly condemning evil, they covertly support it; that some church leaders are actually agents of Satan sent to corrupt the body of Christ and disrupt Jehovah’s future plans for His earthly wards.
Some Church leaders, who are supposed to be the earthly “shepherds” of the flock, have through their conduct, helped in promoting the wrong notions about true wealth. The ostentatious lifestyles some pastors live, has contributed towards fuelling the mad craze for earthly acquisitions among contemporary Christians. The slogan of these doomsday pastors is “seek yea first the financial kingdom and its accoutrements, and all other things shall be added unto you”. These apostates equate the Biblical kingdom of God with the possession of mere material trappings of life. When members of a congregation see their pastor driving choice wonders-on-wheels, globetrotting in customized private jets, living in cozy Igloos and castles, stepping out in designer attires, at the expense of sincerely reaching out to the doomed souls in his assembly with the message of true salvation for their souls, there is a large tendency for even the elect to be deceived into beginning to see material wealth as an end in itself.
Most church leaders are shylock businessmen; commercial syndicates who ventured into ministry for purely monetary considerations; shameless journeymen whose claims to divine authority are as blasphemous as they are ignominious – empty claims that are as hollow as clanging cymbals. Jokes apart, the fraudsters masquerading as the GOs of some churches do not give a hoot about rescuing and preserving the souls of their flock from eternal damnation; for it is not out of the altruistic dispositions of these end-time heretics that they hold countless church programs every year, in tandem with other commercial enterprises they engage in, but out of their larcenous quests to continually pilfer the hard-earned funds of their bewildered herd in the name of the lord.
I am piqued at the shameless manner some professed born-again Christians hanker after material possessions at the expense of eternal life; marvel at the rate supposed children of God are enamoured by fleeting man-made luxuries, when they have the promise of a heavenly paradise to look forward to; amazed at the foolishness of individuals who consider themselves better than others simply because they are better appareled; astonished that luxurious items, which are vain in reality, are more highly valued than man himself, who for his own purposes conferred value on these items, in the first place; revolted at those who deify a rich man simply because he is rich, despite owing him nothing; astounded when I see my Christian brothers and sisters sharing God’s glory with mere specks of dust because of the vain earthly possessions of the later. So many other imported traditions astound me in the church today.
The truth is that most Christians attend church, not out of deep spiritual convictions, but as socio-religious duties. They come to church to increase their social standings, not to worship God in spirit and in truth. To these individuals, coming to church is a mere routine; a mechanical response to the promptings of societal expectations; an obligation that is as superficial as it is directionless; a make-belief exercise in every sense of the word. That is why so many so-called Christians still live in spiritual squalor and emptiness, despite the amount of material wealth in their possessions; the kind of poverty that is induced by sterile religiosity – a spiritless condition that is the logical consequence of a stereotypical, materialistic worldview that defines contemporary Christianity. That is why a rich man will see his fellow brethren going through torrid times and ignore him. That is why a needy member of an assembly will come to a General Overseer, who owns a private Jet, with a serious financial challenge, only to be encouraged with mere words such as: “Have faith”, “the Lord will provide”, “God’s time is the best”. That is why social vices continue to burgeon exponentially out of control as mortals are forced to become more engrossed in the mad rush for the acquisition of ephemeral worldly treasures.
True wealth, according to Biblical injunction, is more of a spiritual undertaking than anything material. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible’s view of heavenly wealth remains constant. Christ in several analogies spoke about the vanity and banality of material possessions; about the stupidity in putting ones faith in such perishable items that cannot stand the test of time; about the foolishness in chasing after transient things that will not guarantee us a future of limitless enjoyment (Luke 12:15; 16:19-31; 18:22).
The Eden debacle is one of the most graphic expositions on the emptiness of material wealth in juxtaposition with its spiritual equivalent. God created man in His image and likeness, equipping him with all that was required to make his life on this earthly plain successful and fulfilling (Gen 1:26-27; 29,30; 2:8,9). Man was spiritually empowered by the Almighty to the extent that nothing was impossible for him to achieve. He was free from all the challenges associated with earthly pursuits (Genesis 1:28-30). That was before he fell from his exalted heights.
When man disobeyed his maker by siding with the rebellious “sun of the morning”, Lucifer, in his insurgency against the Most High God, he instantly became poverty-stricken. He fell from the pinnacle of his first estate into the depths of penury, pain, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, and death. In his former station, he had all he needed at his finger tips, while in his decadent state, he had to struggle to make a living; now had to scratch a living out of an earth that had been created for his enjoyment; now had to work hard to eke out those things that were initially his for the asking – material acquisitions that were originally his before he blew it all by taking those false steps of disobedience that led him off course.
Man’s fall from his Olympian heights was of both spiritual and physical significance. Spiritually, man died; the kind of death that prevented him from having a relationship with Jehovah, his life source; a relationship that had kept him supplied with all his needs; a relationship that had kept him rich and wealthy. Physically, man’s disobedience opened him up to the challenges he currently grapples with; challenges that are fitting consequences for his betrayal of the trust reposed in him by a loving, gracious Father (Genesis 3: 17-19).
Let it not be misconstrued that I am against material prosperity. Far from it, my chief grouse is not with material wealth per se, but against its pursuit at the expense of the one true wealth that matters most; the kind of wealth that should form the primary basis of a true Christian’s relationship with God, and the chief parameter on which we shall be judged “guilty or not guilty” on the last day; spiritual wealth against which our physical accoutrements pail into insignificance; the kind of wealth that is not subject to the vagaries of the elements or the passage of time; the kind of wealth that leads to everlasting peace, tranquility, contentment and immortality (Matthew 6:19; 6:20-21; Luke 18: 22). That is the kind of wealth I am talking about.
The children of God are not supposed to surfer on this earth and in the hereafter, for Christ has won our liberation from the dire consequences of the mortal sins of our first parents – Adam and Eve – which initially condemned us to death (Romans 5:12) in its tripartite dimensions: in our relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2; Colossians 1:21; Habakkuk 1:13), in our bodily existence (Psalm 104:29), and to a future joy – the second death (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). It is that redemptive sacrifice of Christ that brings every true believer back into a new relationship with God – the source of true wealth, and the only one who ultimately determines those that are qualified to enjoy it to the fullest, when the time comes.
True Christianity produces true spiritual wealth; the kind of wealth that produces the fruits of love, patience, charity, tolerance, forgiveness, obedience, meekness et al. Any church where these spiritual fruits are in short display is not a safe haven for any wise, paradise-minded child of God. When we steadfastly seek to always do God’s divine will during our brief stints on earth, we consequently pile up future heavenly riches that will last us for eternity. As true children of God, we must not focus on trifling empty pursuits that are strictly directed at satiating our sinful canal appetites, for it is written that “man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When we adhere completely to the commandments of God pertaining to our earthly conduct, we shall accordingly reap abundant wealth both here on earth and in the afterlife.
In these end times, the true church of Jesus Christ must revert to the strict teachings of the Bible on what constitutes true wealth, if it expects to be taken seriously. The subsisting ideas on this subject are not only misleading, but constitutes sacrileges against the pure standards of the Most High – anathemas that must be checked; purely human constructs; mercantilist inventions that have estranged the flock from the truth that material wealth does not guarantee us access to heaven or eternal life.“What shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and losses his own soul (Mark 8:36)?” Biblically speaking, nothing! We stand to gain nothing if after enjoying all the material trappings of life, we end up in Hellfire – that place of everlasting torment – that place of real poverty; that state of emptiness that cannot be filled by anything material.
Wherever you are right now, as you read this article, go down immediately on your knees and start asking God to forgive you for having been two-faced Christian all these while; for having not been fully committed to serving him; for having concentrated much of your time and energy serving two masters – God and Marmon (Luke 16:13). Promise to, from this day onwards, focus only on seeking his face always and obeying His commandments. Thank Him for answering your prayers. God bless you as you do this. May the good Lord imbue us with the wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and grace to keep to the terms of His relationship with us, in Jesus name, Amen!
=== About the author:
*Obuseh Jude is a peace researcher and practitioner, and the Executive Director of Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Initiative, a Nigerian based non-governmental organisation. He holds a BSc in Political Science, an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the premier University of Ibadan, Nigeria, coupled with other professional qualifications. His areas of research interests are International Security Administration, Peace Building Strategies and Early Warning Mechanisms.