Christianity: Religion or Business Enterprise?

It would be unwise to claim that all Christian Churches are money raising ventures – very unwise. However, there are so many of them operating under the guise of Christianity and with ulterior motives that put Christianity as a religion in a shameful position. Unless Christians can hold firm to the teachings of the Bible and not fall prey to these false prophets, then ‘true’ Christianity might go into extinction.

Over the years, Christianity seems to have evolved. I am not sure if it has always been this way and I was just too young back then to notice or it if it has actually changed drastically. In this age of technology, the realm of Christianity has grown vast and the word of God can be found on the tele, radio, newspaper, online – with most of it being administered via social media. I have seen the same scriptures being interpreted differently by different churches so much that at times, I have had to stop and do some reflections. Who is telling lies and who is speaking the truth? And who really is twisting the verses to suit their own personal needs?

IMG_3393There are so many churches out there some with such ridiculous names and strange activities going on yet they have huge followings. Every one of them believes they are preaching the Truth. The rate at which churches are mushrooming is very alarming. I keep asking myself; why do Christians feel the need to start their own churches instead of growing in the already existing ones? Apart from evangelising, what is it about starting your own church that makes people do it? And it hit me; money.

It would be very unwise of me to claim that all churches are money raising ventures. Not all of them are. My issue is that there are too many of them out there whose main focus is robbing people off of their money in the name of God. There are too many of such churches and every single day, a new one is born. And in what seems to be their naivety or blinded faith, Christians are tagging along and putting their lives and life savings at risk.

Every time I turn on my tele or go to social media, there is some prophet or pastor being praised for his or her miracle performing ways.  Unfortunately, the manner in which most of these sermons are given in some of these churches has taken attention away from God leaving the very Pastors to be revered and worshipped by their followers in the place of God. Miracles are now performed not as a means of illustrating God’s almightiness, but they are presented as a PR package for the pastors behind them; they showcase how powerful this pastor is and what you will gain if you start following him and ‘sow your seeds’ with him.

Sow a Seed!!!!!

I have heard this phrase so many times my ears have started to itch at the mere mention of it. This is the phrase that is taking the rounds in Churches of today. It is no longer important to teach people how to live their lives according to God’s commandments or how to maintain a righteous path in life. However, it’s become common to simply tell people, sow a seed and all your desires shall be manifested in the name of God. This seed they talk about isn’t referring to the Word of God or living a Godly life so as to attain everlasting life, it is referring to how much money you ought to give if you want God to look upon your life with favour.

It has become the fashion for some pastors to devote a third of their ministries every Sunday talking about sowing a seed. This idea of sowing a seed which is equivalent to ‘give me your money and only then shall you receive blessings from God’ seems to be held in such higher esteem than anything else written in the Bible. The manner in which some of these pastors have interpreted the Bible verses dealing with this topic is quite remarkable! Consider some of the verses about sowing a seed in the name of God:

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Acts 20:35

Galatians 6:7-8

Proverbs 11: 24-25

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Luke 8: 1-15

When I got older, I became a little unsatisfied with some of the beliefs and the hypocrisy that the church I grew up in was teaching and practising, thus, I went on a voyage of discovery. I tried different churches every Sunday…suffice to say, it was an experience that opened my eyes in more ways than one. Firstly, I was very impressed by the number of young men that seemed to be actively involved in pastoring in churches. I thought to myself… ‘and yet they call us the lost generation, Er?’ But one of friends who is a pastor in that church was quick to burst my bubble when he said, “Do you have any idea how much money Churches make these days? And it’s all tax free, that’s why I want to start my own soon! You get to spread the word of God and at the same time make some money. God is amazing!”

It finally began to make sense to me why almost every guy I knew growing up that had failed to make it in life was either a pastor or had established their own church. Chances are that some of them have genuine interest in Christianity, but the financial aspect of it makes their motives very questionable. During my church ‘tours’, I did observe that it was mostly these very young pastors (youths) that seemed very devoted to preaching about sowing the seed than anything else during their sermons. Somehow, they always managed to fuse in these three little words into every sermon they delivered. The manner in which these verses where shoved down our ears made me feel guilty to attend church services if I didn’t have any money on me that Sunday. I could not let go of the idea that I would never receive God’s blessings if I don’t put a lot of money in those baskets/buckets. And slowly, I began to grow further away from God because I felt I couldn’t afford him. If I felt like that even when I am someone who comes from an average family, what about those people that come from very poor families?

There is nothing wrong with the Bible verses encouraging us to be more giving and to give from the heart. It is a situation where even a cent would mean A Lot if the heart that was giving was sincere. Think of the woman from Mark 12:41-44  do you think this widow’s offering would be encouraged in some churches these days? We live in a time where the rich receive special treatment even in churches because they are the ones that ‘give more and contribute to the growth of the church.’ These rich folks are the ones that sit on the front rows in church while the old ladies hard of hearing and sight sit in the back because they are too shabby to be displayed in the front.

A church is a place that was initially meant to be a place of equality but is now a place exhibiting all forms of segregation packed with very judgemental people that look only on the outside and never the soul of their brothers and sisters. It is a place where people get to realise how different their social status really is because only the rich are mostly heralded and given opportunities to grow and participate in church activities while the poor and uneducated ones remain in the background. But ‘again’ I will reiterate, not all churches are like this.

I find the judgmental attitude of some Christians very daunting. If someone walks into your church dressed in funny clothes, shabby, or they are looking like they just stepped into the building mistaking it for a brothel, instead of throwing them judgemental looks or avoiding them like a plague, how about taking it as a God given opportunity to witness to them? A church is a place for sinners; we are all natural born sinners seeking deliverance from God. Just because your sins are dressed up in clean and fancy designer clothes does not make you better than the rest. Sit down.

When some pastors start their churches or their pastoral work, you will constantly hear them preaching about how difficult it is for rich men to enter the kingdom of God. However, two years later, these very people will be rolling in fancy cars and wearing extremely expensive suits, taking long vacations to worldwide destinations, buying Islands, yachts, and acquiring real estate faster than actual business moguls themselves. The question is; where is all that money coming from? They will quickly tell you that they have been blessed thanks to their work in God’s name. The truth is yes, their lives have tremendously improved since they started their preaching work. The only problem is that they got to where they are today because you gave them…and you kept giving and giving them your ‘seeds’. How is it that you have been sowing for so many years yet you cannot even afford to buy yourself a Vitz or take your kids to a proper school while the Pastor has 15 cars packed in his garage with a Yacht he only uses once a year?

Does he really need all those material things he keeps acquiring for himself all in the name of God? He’s sent his kids to fancy schools abroad and yet when you go to him complaining about the financial problems you’ve been facing he tells you; “Sow a seed my brother and it shall be well with you.” How is it that you are telling him you are broke, and he is telling you to give him money if you want a miracle? Does that even make sense? This is the same crap that happens with government institutions; you have been robbed left right and centre and you run to them for help and they tell you, “Madam, you need to pay for a police report if you want us to work on your case.” The hell??

Sometimes I have been tempted to believe that we can’t solely hold fake pastors or prophets responsible for the evil acts they do. Christians are to a very large extent to blame for the perpetration of such behaviour. It’s a fact we live in very difficult times hard to deal with; diseases, poverty, droughts, wars, ISIS, natural disasters and so on. We are in desperate need of miracles and we will believe anything we are told if it means rising above our challenges. But that shouldn’t be the case. Even blind faith is a sin in itself and the Bible cautions us about fake prophets preaching the Word in His name. It is not wrong to question the acts or motives of pastors. Remember, they are not gods but men born of Adam and prone to sin as well. They are not immune and neither are they perfect. The problem is that you have put some of them on such pedestals that you can no longer see them as human. They have become synonymous with God himself. Today am reminding you that they are not!

Why should you feel comfortable taking off your clothes so that the pastor can bless you with his ‘holy body’ in order for you to have a happy marriage or find yourself a good spouse? Do you think God would ask something like that from you? Someone tells you to eat grass to demonstrate your faith and you ahead and do so! You is selling you ‘holy pants’ and you buy them…smh. Are you nuts?? No pastor should touch your body everywhere as a means of blessing you or cleansing you of your sins because that’s not how the Holy Spirit works. God isn’t that lazy, he can operate from anywhere in the world and he doesn’t need to feel your boobs or vagina to help you have a child. Someone tells you that they had a vision of you being their wife and that you should leave your boyfriend because he is not your soulmate and you believe them without questioning anything?? If God appeared to people to tell them about their soul mates then most of us wouldn’t have been born I tell you. The world’s population would be less than half what it is today.

Do not be anxious to receive a miracle in your life that you will believe anything that seems out of the ordinary happening around you is the work of God. Remember, the devil has his powers too. You see people pretending to walk on air, they are turning water into fuel, claiming to heal mysterious diseases and you are more than ready to fall at their feet. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Those are not the kind of miracles humans need.

We need cures for Cancer, we need heavy rains in Zambia, we need great leaders with achievable visions, we need hospitals, and we need the wars to cease…we need so much more. You floating on air or turning water into fuel has no bearing on my life. Why would you ask God to manifest his power in you by floating on air seriously??? Couldn’t you have prayed for something else, seriously? And you think God somewhere went like, “wow, this fella is one of my pips…let me manifest myself in him…Shooop! There you go…fly my dear son…fly.” Yeah right. Sit down.

As long as Christians keep giving questionable pastors and prophets the platform to grow, Christianity will lose its foundation and eventually cease to exist. Why should money be the most recurring theme in churches? Isn’t there anything else to talk about? Yes, churches cannot do away with money but let not that be the thing that defines your church. Do not make the poor and underprivileged feel inadequate simply because you have a growing need to see your church walls shinning in gold and silver, or        you need to send your family to fancy schools. That is not Christianity, it’s called stealing. If God is only blessing the head of the flock in abundance while the flock wrestles in poverty and anguish, then clearly, something is wrong with such a God. Pastors are Leaders, and leaders do their work through other people. If you want to grade a leader, check the people that serve under him. If he is the only one repeating benefits, then clearly, something is wrong with his leadership style.

Dealing with a Friend in a Bad Relationship

When Friendship Meets Relationship Advice….

Ever had a friend come to you with a relationship problem that required the ‘break-up, don’t break-up’ kind of response? Should you simply be a listening ear, or should you give advise? And here’s my favourite, Is there something like a neutral ground??

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© photo credit: flickr, PhotoPin

The thing with family and friends is that they are there to be with you through thick and thin, to help shoulder your burdens and to give a listening ear when needed. Often, people will confide in a close friend or family relation about problems they’re facing in their relationships. Sometimes the friends will just listen to you cry, curse, threaten suicide or murder and simply give you a hug in response. Sometimes they might go ahead and give you advice if the situation calls for it…and this is where things get tricky.

I think many people have experienced moments…those terribly awkward moments when you just want to scream at your friend to just ‘dumb the bloody bastard for Christ’ sake, wont ya!?’ but you know you can’t out-rightly do that because you will be in deep shit if your friend decides to get back with the bagger in question. There are those friends who will rat you out to their other half that you had advised them to break-up because you thought they were terrible jerks who chewed a little too loudly.

 “She even told me she never liked you from the get-go…she said she doesn’t like how you look at other women when we are at social gatherings. I don’t understand why she would say something like that.”

No, you didn’t?!!!!

This is exactly the kind of thing that should never be reported if you still plan on putting your friend in the same breathing space with your partner, ever! Unfortunately, it happens quite a lotta times!

Sometimes friends respond in kind – I mean; if you go to a friend crying your oesophagus off about how your boyfriend or girlfriend has been mistreating you, your friend will naturally feel inclined to side with you whether they agree with you or not. A good friend will show support for you but still tell you some facts you need to recognize in subtle ways but others will go all out and bring out all that stuff about your partner they had been harbouring because you finally gave them the opportunity to air their opinions out – honestly. And there is nothing wrong with that, to some extent.

When friends talk, it is always the hope that they can be as honest as possible and trust that you will keep those conversations within the confines of that friendship. However, the problem with dealing with relationship issues is that chances are that that information shared will very likely reach their partner who will end up hating you for life.

For me, the most delicate issue to talk about with my friends has always been about whether to advocate for a break-up or reconciliation or whether to let them go ahead with their decision to break-up or make them reconsider. A few years ago, I had a friend who had fallen head-over-heals in-love with someone and was preparing her wedding. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances around that time…including the wedding jitters obviously (and most importantly), she wanted to cancel the wedding. She ranted to me about all the negative things the person she was getting married to had and I was put in a position where I began to see the guy as the ultimate villain – you know, the Voldemort-like kind except with a bit of hair on the scalp.

I truly hated the guy despite the fact that I didn’t know him that well because I had never had any interactions with him before that could have given me a personal judgement of his character. Everything I knew about him, I learnt from his girlfriend who was my friend. A few times I ran into him, I would be thinking in my head, ‘what a douchebag, bloody nincompoop bastard.’ And yet a few weeks later…and this is the interesting part, my friend would be there ogling him and being all lovey-dovey. I cannot tell you how many times I had to regurgitate my own vomit in his presence.

The truth is, I was not responsible for coming up with that damning judgement of his character, my friend was. She had not given me the chance to get to know him on my own terms and opinions. Everything I knew about him was based off prejudice…prejudice that she herself created in me and all that my brain could do is get in sync with my schema and do even more social damage. That guy had no chance in my good books. However, because I didn’t want to jump too quickly into letting her give up on him during the times she felt like killing him, the only thing I could tell her was, ‘it’s just wedding jitters…soon he will get back to being the loving guy you fell in-love with…’ of course I never believed a single bullcrap of what I said but I felt it was something she needed to hear at that time.

There was no way in hell was I gonna tell her to break-up with a guy during a time she was obviously battling with hormones infused with all the drama that comes with wedding preps. Despite every fibre in me feeling like telling her to quit and find someone better in future, I bit my lips and hoped for a miracle. And yes, a miracle did finally happen! She got married to him and I got to know the guy on a personal basis and boy is he a good man! Not perfect, obviously, but he’s worth the fuss.

Fortunately, I learnt a lesson from this experience; that friendship is not an easy thing to maintain when dealing with relationship problems. To some extent, we are responsible for how our friends feel about our partners because they get impressions about them from what we say about them. Nature demands that if a friend is hurting from a bad relationship, whether she is telling us the truth or not, we are supposed to show them support.

The only time you can offer objective advice is if you know your friend’s character very well. I have a mildly short fuse. Fortunately, I have a best friend who knows this about me and every time I go to her ranting about how unfair to me my husband was during a particular time, she asks me to calm down and look at things objectively. Sometimes (maybe often?? Hehehe) she knows I am finding faults due to my own personality and that I am just blowing things out of proportion. And she is right most of the times – I tend to over analyse stuff, a lot. So she doesn’t jump to conclusions about advising me without looking at the situation critically. She will tell me to my face to calm my ovaries down and I do the same to her.

But not everyone has that kind of close relationship with their friends. Sometimes there are friends you might have trouble being honest with yet you still consider them friends. And so, every time you have to offer advice, you have to sugar coat stuff so much that by the end of the day, you would have done more damage than control to the situation. These are the kind of friendships that end up getting ruined once a relationship that was on the verge of collapse or had once ended is resurrected.

The fact is that as friends, we should take a major responsibility for how our friends see or view our partners because most of that judgement, we planted it in their heads. However, there will be times when friends will get a glimpse of a personality trait or character about their friend’s partner that she/he might not even be aware of…such as when they are displaying signs of dishonesty, cheating, or when they wish to end the relationship but can’t quite gather the courage to confront you about it. Very often, it is the friends in the side lines who are able to see things clearly because they are watching while you are taking part in the relationship. It’s difficult to see certain things when you are very closely involved in a situation. So the question is; do you make your friend aware of such a situation or is better to just wait and see…hope for the best or help pick up the pieces if the relationship crumbles?

Thing is, I don’t know what the right thing to do would be because all such situations have their own peculiarities that warrant special treatment. Sometimes you can clearly see a friend about to jump in a very wrong relationship with the signs screaming themselves higher than Mount Everest but because they are so invested in it, it’s hard to burst their bubble. And so you just cross your fingers and hope the water works never erupt.

I have personally learnt that I have to be careful about the things I say about my partner to my friends. Of course this doesn’t mean I have to be dishonest. Sometimes all you need to do is weigh the things in your head and see if they are really something you should talk about with a friend without them coming back to bite you in future. It is best to protect the dignity of your partner especially when dealing with certain special matters and maybe our friends might not always be the best people to seek advice from or vent…even harder when you are married.

Because you might be distressed and full of emotion, you might end up saying something about your partner to your friend and there is no undoing the damage in their heads once the seed has been planted. They are your protectors and always want the best for you, therefore, anything that hurts you, they will hate it.

Whereas you are in a position to judge whether your partner has changed or not and if you can trust them to be that way throughout, your friends don’t have that privilege and they will keep holding on to that perception you initially gave them. It won’t be easy for them to accept back into your life someone you once claimed mistreated or abused you. They saw how it affected you and they were the ones to help dry your tears. They don’t wish to ever see you like that again. It is not because they are jealous or that they don’t wish you happiness (well, not always), true friends will want the best for you.

Therefore, it is best to think certain things over – to gauge whether they are worth sharing with a friend or someone more experienced or older. It is unfair to put friends in a position where they have to side with either you or your partner and when they do side with you, you go and tell your partner all about it thereby putting them in a more awkward position.

As friends, it is better to accept that our friends won’t always take our advice. Yes you know that they are making a mistake and you tried to caution them in the most subtle ways possible yet they didn’t listen. Instead of piling up bitterness and resentment, the friendly thing to do would be to show them support when the time comes because you already did your part. You don’t need to shout; ‘I told you so…’ they already know. Everyone makes mistakes and relationship mistakes are the most common that cannot be avoided in one’s dating life. People don’t become better lovers/partners by simply reading books. The mistakes in themselves are teachers…very tough teachers, to say the least.

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