Your righteousness can be sinful…

Your righteousness can be sinful and your salvation questionable…if it blinds you to the gospel of grace, when it makes you feel exalted above all, when it gives you no patience for the sinner, when it makes you feel it is for you that Christ came and not the worst of sinners, when it makes you forget that it is God himself who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure and that of our own we can do no good thing.

The posture of some Christians on social media is sometimes worrisome as a lot of people’s activities or contents are loaded with unnecessary arguments, labelling and putting people down. I do feel mostly that nobody gets saved by what seems like insults, judgments and castigations on social media, especially when people express opposing views to our Christian posts or messages. In many cases, it perhaps makes us no different from the people throwing stones at the biblical woman caught in adultery.

It is not here (social media) that we are coming to differentiate between what is morally wrong and morally right…it is mostly common knowledge. Nonetheless, if that has to be done, it must be done with a lot of tactfulness. To the best of my knowledge, people don’t become good when all you do is constantly hammer their wrongs in their face; they become worse. If you like, try that approach on your child and see how they turn out.

It doesn’t mean a Christian should never point out people’s wrongs, but there’s always a good way to do that; the approach matters sometimes more than the message. It is always important to remember that it is by grace that some of us even turned out good. We must always acknowledge the grace of God in our lives because sitting on social media, loading our timelines with Bible verses and acting all clean and righteous is not what is at stake. Fact is, when someone’s sin or actions bothers you more than your own and instead of working on you, you will rather judge and castigate them, you have a problem! It’s like today’s Christians are more interested in pointing out sinners than even praying for them so God does His own work in them. We just like to let people see they are the bad nuts and we are the good ones, I guess.

I may be right or wrong but I never maintain that I speak truth; I speak my mind on issues. It’s the recipients of what I say, write, publish, etc. that are the judge of whether it is truth (makes sense) for them or not. That’s why I don’t go about forcing my opinion on others for them to accept it as the truth, and if they don’t, they become the enemy. No, God alone is true and I’m not a Pastor so I don’t lay claim to “speaking the mind of God” and forcing His will on people. I’m focusing on living my Christian life the way I know best.

Social media is a great place to evangelize and spread the message of the gospel but we must never lose sight of our approach and conduct in achieving that aim so we don’t look self-righteous. We surely can build each other up, but we can’t force our truth on people and make enemies out of the very people we are sending the gospel to. And we can’t be hypocritical either, keeping our timelines flooded with scriptures just to look good outside while our real lives are questionable.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

TODAY’S CHURCHES

Today’s churches are not content with small membership that they can be sure are true practicing Christians. They are not interested in small branches either. Church growth targets are more about good financial standing than about depopulating hell and discipleship. High church attendance equals growth in offertory and that’s where the story ends.

Church growth targets are more tailored to either profit-making projects or merely having the biggest auditorium (membership), usually under the guise of the word of God reaching many. Need we talk about the expensive popularity-influenced programme advertisements, hyped conferences and expensive guest speakers and “ministers”? Oh, big edifices are good especially because it would attract rich and high class people to the Church. Don’t we know rich people are attracted to the appearance of church buildings and repelled by sloppy appearances and concerned about where their expensive cars get parked; and of course not in the parking lot of a Church with cheap edifice/architecture?

Stationary pastors who no longer go out to the field, the hinterlands to propagate the gospel but are content with once-a-year evangelism programmes that never get to rural areas. Going to and setting up churches in rural areas is not lucrative enough. Of course that would defeat the business model operation of the Church. Right? Pastors no longer honour invitations to rural Churches to go and preach because there’s no financial incentive.

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Sunday praise and worship sessions so short and so not as uplifting compared to the spirit-filled experience you have playing same songs or listening to them on radio in your closet. Choirs interested in setting aside other times aside normal Sunday services for high cost worship/praise programmes 12 times in a year to entertain themselves (very little outside folks or sinners attending), under the guise of it serving as a means of evangelism.

Funny church membership rules linked closely to financial obligations under the guise of the church burying members when they die, or attending/officiating their celebrations, etc. Membership never comes into question during the collection of the many offerings they have instituted like Sunday/Mid-week offertories, special offerings, tithes, appeal for funds, “covenant offerings”, “first fruit offerings”, thanksgiving offerings, “annual harvest contributions”, church building offerings, Pastor’s appreciation offerings, Pastor’s car offerings, pastor’s birthday offerings, “all night service offerings”, “deliverance service offerings”, etc but only when a “member” who has fulfilled all those responsibilities dies or falls into some category of need. Then the Church says “where is your membership card and record of contributions?” Then they say “yes, we agree he’s been attending this Church for so long but because he’s not a “card-bearing” member, we are not obligated to do one, two and three”.

When the Pastor is so rich with material things but the members lack both material and spiritual things then something must be wrong? When after all those contributions or offertories the monies end up in buying private planes and jets to fly high in luxury, buying and riding exotic cars and living in expensive mansions when members live in abject poverty, then something must be wrong? When the monies are even used to build universities that are then priced so high members children themselves cannot afford; when the Pastor now preaches more motivational messages than salvation messages and more about how to make it in this life than how to make it to Heaven, must we start getting worried??

Well I don’t know. But I guess I could be right to say that there is an increasing perception among Church members that the Church is increasingly becoming unconcerned about their lives in the public sphere and only interested in their monies. Whatever they go through to make ends meet is no business of the Church but what they must give to the Church is what’s important to the Church. After all, the Pastor will find a way to tell you God will always provide even when you give all your money to Him every month and go home empty. And you must give because all the money you have belongs to God.

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Some say Churches now only command compulsory financial obligations and not willful giving. Some say the church is now so interested in money and profits that it’s a shame they even request two offertories at church wedding ceremonies of their own “members” and later give them some very meager amount as the church’s own donation because they are not “welfare contributors”. As if that is not “shameful” enough, the new trend is Churches collecting two offertories at funerals! Two offertories: one for the Church, one for the bereaved family. So funeral grounds are also now money making grounds for the Church?

Some say they can bet their lives that there can never be a “no offertory Sunday” ever in their Church and wonder if money making and profiting is not increasingly being the focus of the church, then why can’t that happen.

Some bemoan the “psychological methods” used by Pastors or Churches in extorting from members instead of biblical willful giving and the imposition of levies on members like in secular associations/organizations.

Some say they understand the Church has fiscal responsibilities but there’s a difference between the Church having fiscal responsibilities and the Church operating a business model and thus if we try to operate the Church as a business, we will find ourselves at odds with God’s design.

Again some have observed that the new trend is to find Pastors now preaching that complaining about giving to God (they mean themselves or the church they mismanage) or not giving to God so much that you feel it cost you like David did is a sin/unfaithfulness.

What’s true however (and perhaps the Pastor cares less about) is that, when people feel like they are only being used for their finances, they will eventually leave the Church. Trust me; it will not be hard to find that most highly successful (rich) church members share the sentiment that the only value their Pastors seem to place on them is the fact that their tithe pumps so much money into the Church or their pockets. There’s a reason why most billionaires either don’t go to Church or choose to give their tithes to foundations or non-profit charities they have created and the reason is simply the financial mismanagement of the tithe/monies by the Church, and the lack of accountability thereof. They wonder why they give millions to the Church yet the “food they have put in God’s storehouse” never feeds the poor, needy and deprived in the same Church they give to. They wonder why the Church will rather focus on building big edifices and holding wasteful programmes with the money and not feed the poor and needy in the Church instead.

What’s the calling of the Church again? I keep forgetting because all I keep seeing is Churches running like corporate businesses.

Well, I guess the line between church and business is too thin that it gets so confusingly messy! Whatever the case is, watch out for manipulative Churches and Pastors and don’t let the Church decide your destiny. The Church cannot take you to Heaven; only Christ will.

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My simple rule is: Don’t do Church; Do Christ!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

 

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Marriage on a mission

Is your marriage on a mission? Ours is! We believe God has a mission for every marriage. He has a mental picture of how He wants every marriage to turn out.

Part of our marriage mission is:

“Our God wants from us a compellingly attractive marriage that turns people’s head and makes them want to know how much more beautiful God’s love for mankind is”

A lot of people have criticized us many times on how our open or public demonstration of love makes them uncomfortable and how immature it makes us. However, as often as we can, we try to remind ourselves of that ultimate call on our marriage so we can exert ourselves the best ways we can in accomplishing that calling or mission. And we evaluate our marriage and relationship often in light of that so we identify areas where more works needs to be done. At least when God was putting us together He didn’t say we were too immature so we’ve learned to ward off a lot of criticism.

Got a marriage/relationship mission you commit to? Or you are just living through the motion?

A great marriage requires a lifetime’s worth of dedicated work and having a marriage mission is like a shared goal that builds teamwork and the bonds of the marriage thereof.

We believe that in God’s mind, marriage is a tool for evangelism because the love we demonstrate in marriage reflects God’s love for all humankind. How we treat our spouses must reflect or mirror God; our love for our spouses must show in ways that make people around us take notice. John 13:35 says “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”.

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I once wrote a post where I advocated that we celebrate openly our marital blessings because it is through doing that people can see what the glory of God in marriage looks like. It’s just like in Matthew 7:16-17, people will only know your fruits if they can see it. If they don’t see the flowers of a plant in beautiful display they can’t be attracted to it and can’t glorify it. Similarly, people will never know about the goodness of God unless we make them see it some way or the other.

Christian marriages can do that and Christians might want to begin to see their marriages as effective tools for evangelism. Like it is said in Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” See? Evidence-based! And the evidences are in the daily blessings poured out on our marriages that we are always tempted to hide.

There are however people who do not believe in making a public spectacle of their marriages, kids, blessings, etc for some very good personal reasons. Many others also believe that the more they “glorify” their marriage or blessings, the more they expose their marriage or relationship to the radar of Satan and evil people so they are better off hiding in some corner. Well, if the motive is good, stick to it.

However, fear only begets more fear and you will never be able to overcome your fears while still living in fear. The fear of Satan and his many evil works will only make him have more control over you and eventually cripple your public testimony of God’s goodness. And that’s always the goal of the enemy.

Someone once wrote:

“If all we who call ourselves Christians loved our spouses in a deep, real, vibrant and obvious way, imagine what it would do to the world. Imagine if it were undeniable that those who follow Jesus are more in love, more happily married, more sexually satisfied, and just had better marriages all around. In a world full of divorce and troubled marriages, such a public testimony would show people that faith in Jesus is more than just a claim”

Think about it!

Cheers!

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author