Don’t go on the next mission trip…

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Photo credit: Zazzle.com

Yes I mean it, don’t go on that mission trip. At least not until you read this post. In fact I’m trying to convince you to stop volunteering at that church sponsored soup kitchen. That Sunday school or Bible study you teach is not exempt either. Yes just don’t do it!!

  And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. (Mark 3:13-15)

Jesus called these 12 disciples first “that they might be with him” (their training and forming), and then secondly, “that he might send them out to preach, and have authority over demons” (their ministry and witness).

“Being” with Jesus is primary. It is more important than the secondary “going” or “doing” things for him. Because it is by being with Jesus that we become like him as we are transformed in his presence. That affects who we are, and what we do, flows out of who we are.

Be with Jesus – learn from him – form your life around him – surrender your dreams, desires, ambitions, hopes and fears to him, then let him mold you. Nurture your walk with him by spending time in his presence.

And we all, with unveiled face,beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I fear that the bane of modern ministry is a troop of people who have rushed out to preach (and do many other ministry acts for Jesus) but have not yet been with him.

When we have not been with Jesus but only minister for him, we end up serving from what the Bible calls our flesh. Our talents, gifts, and efforts become mere trays on which we serve people our selves! People whose hungry and aching hearts need to savor the glorious taste of Jesus through those efforts, gifts and talents; end up with gravel of our selves in their mouths! So NO, don’t go on that next mission trip unless you have been with Jesus!

Church search committees looking to hire a pastor, don’t just look at his résumé and the number of letters listed after his name. Don’t even base your decision on how gifted or eloquent he appears. Perhaps he is a combination of Martin Luther King Jr, Dr Phil, and Jay Leno all in one, then he knows the Bible like John MacArthur. The one question you must not fail to ask is this: Has he been with Jesus?
This is important because being with Jesus marks a man or woman;

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

These men had been marked by their being with Jesus, such that their actions showed this quality with an “otherness” about it. Something different from what should ordinarily come from them, which these Jewish council members recognized as the result of being with Jesus!

Being with Jesus does not require that you have all your acts together and ducks in a row. It does not mean that you must be really close to perfection and averse to mistakes. I say this because someone may recognize the struggles in his or her life and think “Hey, I shouldn’t do anything for Jesus because I haven’t been with him”. In fact, being with Jesus will often provoke those struggles as he is engaged in the process of loosening up the hardened crust of self, and replacing it with the balm of his own character.

Make no mistakes about it, if God has called you, the first thing he wants is for you to be with him. So don’t go on that mission trip, until you have been with Jesus.

When others are telling you to do more…do less. The world does not need more of you, it needs more of God. Others don’t need more of you, they need more of God. You don’t need more of you, you need more of God! – Eugene H. Peterson

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Posted in Christian Living

SPICE Pt. 3 – What of the Houses Jesus Promised in Mark 10:30?

moneycrashers.com

In this third installment of the series on the prosperity gospel, I want to look at another passage used to promise people wealth, but I would start with a story.

Last October on my way to Dallas for the NAPCE conference I discovered as I was about clearing security that my wallet had been stolen at LAX! No money, cards and ID – all gone. Fortunately I eventually cleared security through some special rules designed for similar situations and got on a plane 4 hours later. The rest of that trip took a different trajectory thanks to a lovely couple by the name of Sam and Godline Uzoagba. Not only was someone waiting to pick me up, I was given very comfortable lodging where I was literally waited on and chauffeured to and from the conference venue. Even when there were meals arranged as part of the conference package there were still specially prepared meals waiting for me when I got ‘home’.  I even got to eat some aṅara (an African specie of the egg-plant commonly called garden eggs and traditionally used to serve visitors) grown right in their garden (see picture). It was like being in a presidential suite – only in a home and not a hotel! Sam and I were students together in college and belonged to the same campus fellowship. Godline I had never met prior to the trip but an hour later you would have thought she was my sister. And you would have been right – she is my sister in Christ!

anaraBut besides boring you with stories of my enjoyable trip, what does this have to do with the prosperity gospel? A lot as it turns out, because of a story found in Mark 10:17-30. Often referenced in defense of the claims of the prosperity gospel (see the definition of the prosperity gospel in these SPICE series). Jesus had just ended a conversation with the rich young ruler who left sorrowful and unable to do what it took to be a follower of Jesus.

Note: what Jesus literally asked him to do (sell all his possessions), was not demanded of everyone who met Jesus. He wanted to show the danger of loving and pursuing riches – the same sentiments expressed in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19.

Jesus’ verdict – how difficult it would be for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples then pointed out to Jesus, that they had left  everything to follow him. Jesus then assured them that every one of them who had left houses, mother, sister, brother, lands etc. to follow him would receive in this life, brothers, sisters, lands, houses together with persecution, and in the age to come eternal life!

So here we see Jesus promising the disciples that being a christian is a good business investment because if you give (or forsake on behalf of) Jesus one house, Jesus would make sure you end up with the title-deed of hundred houses – quid pro quo! Or was he??

The context of the passage is about the danger of riches to people’s souls. He was telling them that as they had given their all for him it was not in vain, they would be blessed. They had left homes and families, but they would receive homes and other relationships (brothers, sister, and mothers etc.) in the people who would come to Christ. That he added persecution is an indication that he wasn’t giving a strict formula for getting back material wealth. Jesus wasn’t giving his disciples a quid pro quo (1:100) formula, so that they could calculate the 1 million they would get after ‘sowing’ 10,000.

The above statement is similar to what the spicy African prosperity gospel promises Christians using passages like Mark 10:30. Let me admit for the time being the possibility of reading that passage with the interpretation that Jesus was literally promising the disciples houses in this passage – let’s call this the “Title Deed position”. The problem with this is that you can’t get another birth mother, brother and sister – will you take land and houses literally in that sense and not take brothers and mothers etc. literally too? If we are consistent with this (Title Deed) reading of the passage, then every Christian will also receive another “birth mother”. Therefore, when my grandfather became a Christian and his witch doctor father, mother and brothers disowned him; God should have miraculously made him have a different literal mother who gave birth to him, as well as literal blood sisters! You see my drift? The other (and bigger) problem with this “Title Deed position” is that it contradicts, not just the context of this whole passage but of the rest of the New Testament.

But wait a minute, don’t move on just yet, someone says to me, since you say the brothers and sisters are brothers and sisters in the faith; What of houses? Are these also houses in the faith? Lands? Are these also lands in the faith? This is a very consistent question, which by the way was asked me by a good friend and brother!

This is where the story of my Dallas trip (with which I began this post) comes in. You see in Christ I have not only gained other brothers, and sisters and mothers, but I have also gained houses! I did not need the title-deed of the house in Dallas to have access to it.  In Acts 9:42-43; 10:5-10 – we see Peter living in a house in Joppa for a while. How? Did he buy a house or have relatives there? Not as far as we know – it was the house of one of these new ‘brothers’ he received and it was Peter’s to use. See specifically Acts 4:32-26 where believers shared their belongings – people shared their homes, others sold their lands and brought the proceeds etc. Jesus promise to his disciples was fulfilled. So if you want to call it houses in the faith, that’s fine with me.

No, Jesus was not giving the disciples an assurance that they would become materially wealthy and own real estate property in the hundreds. Nothing precludes a believer from attaining that financial status, and God does bless his children materially but there is no guarantee of multiple title deeds to any christian – certainly not from this passage.  And any christian whose life is spent pursuing this as a goal is making a tragic mistake as the central message of Mk 10:17-30 reveals.

I have not lost or forsaken as much as many believers have for Christ, even though my hope is that I would without hesitation if I find myself in that literal situation. Nevertheless, as my story above indicates, I have not only received brothers, sisters, mothers, and houses in the faith, I have also received some aṅara in the faith. Yet I didn’t need the title-deed. I doubt Peter and the other apostles would have cared about title deeds either!

PS

Before I end this post, I must make a confession so that all my cards are on the table.

  • I believe one should not build a doctrine on only one verse of scripture – especially if that verse is taken out of its context.
  • I believe we should not ignore our minds when reading the scriptures. Our intellect is a necessary (though perhaps not always sufficient) ingredient for understanding the truth of the Bible.
  • I believe the Bible is coherent – therefore a teaching/interpretation which clearly violates some other clear teachings of the scriptures is questionable at best.

There you have it. I confessed my biases.

What are your thoughts on those houses?

Other posts in the SPICE series:

SPICE: The Prosperity Gospel with an African Flavor

SPICE Pt. 1 – The Prosperity Gospel

SPICE Pt. 2 – Miracle Money in Your Pockets and Bank Account Courtesy of Jesus.

photo credit: moneycrashers.com

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SPICE Pt. 2 – Miracle Money in Your Pockets and Bank Account Courtesy of Jesus.

Prophet Uebert Angel is a Zimbabwean preacher. He tells the secrets of people’s hearts and promises to make miracle money appear in their pockets and accounts. Where was he when I was broke last year. This is the prosperity gospel with an African spice!
Apparently there is a guarantee of riches secured by Christ. And there is proof from scriptures. It should be no surprise that Christians should be rich, after all Jesus was rich says the prophet named Angel. Judas stole from him for 3 years and he didn’t rebuke him because there was plenty of it (the money). The disciples were also all very rich, after all when Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, their response was “who then can be saved?” Meaning (according the dear prophet) they were rich and thus considered Jesus words as  disqualifying them from the kingdom. In fact they made to leave and Jesus held them back and assured them by saying with God all things are possible. Talk about creative Bible reading and interpretation!!
But the Bible says Jesus died to make us rich!
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich“. 2 Cor. 8:9
 
There is the proof. Jesus died so that we would become rich!
The verse above clearly says Jesus was rich, and became poor to make us rich. What does it mean? The meaning is not far-fetched – we can get it from the context of the passage itself. Basic Bible study teaches us that we should read any verse in context. Otherwise we can make any verse of scripture say anything we want it to say.
The whole context is 2 Cor 8:1-15, and reading this whole passage will show if verse 9 is promising us material riches. Here is what it is saying:
  • Jesus was rich…
    • (in his pre-existent state as the eternal word – John 1:1, the second person of the trinity – the creator and owner of all things)
  • and became poor…
    • Some people think this refers to physical poverty – perhaps> But it definitely refers to his becoming a man and emptying himself of his glory to come in human form John 17:5; Phil. 2:6.
    • About whether Jesus was rich or poor, here’s what we can find out:
      • It seems he was born into poverty – his parents brought the offering presented by those who were too poor to afford a lamb – indicating their poverty (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus. 12:6-8)
      • We don’t have any biblical evidence that Jesus was poor/destitute as an adult before he started his itinerant ministry. My guess is that he was as well off as any other Jewish artisan, being a carpenter/workman (Mark 6:3)
      • This verse does not prove that Jesus was a pauper all his life.
      • We do know that while Jesus did not suffer hardship or deprivation, he was not was not a rich man as he depended on the hospitality of others such as Lazarus and his sisters. We see that Jesus did not live as a rich man in his statement “foxes have holes…” of Matthew 8:20.
  • so that believers by his poverty might become rich
    • Not materially rich – but spiritually rich 1 Cor 1:4-5; 3:22).
  • Why do I know this the correct reading of the text? From the text itself!
  • Note:
    •  He couldn’t have been saying that Jesus died to guarantee all believers material riches since he was in these very words raising money for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem and had just said the believers in the Macedonian churches were in “…extreme poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:2).
    • Therefore, if this passage is a blanket guarantee of material riches, then God swindled/disappointed the Macedonian believers and Paul is in fact speaking from both ends of his mouth as he tells the Corinthians “Christ died to make believers like you rich but please give some money because these other believers in Jerusalem are so poor that they need your charity and remember the believers in Macedonian believers, also extremely poor, have given too“.
    • To make matters worse, if that verse means that believers are guaranteed material riches, then apart from contradicting everything else in the passage itself, Paul, and the other apostles failed miserably to live out this reality! (By his own testimony he said many times he was homeless and deprived of food and poorly dressed 1 Cor. 4:11). A little later in this very letter he states how he had suffered much (2 Cor. 11:27)

Paul was not saying in 2 Cor. 8:9 that Christ died to increase our financial net worth. He was saying in essence: “this is the example of Jesus, therefore follow his example in giving sacrificially“. He was saying that the incarnation and the gospel is what should inspire our giving.
You see, the context of this verse 2 Cor. 8:9 is that of Paul urging these Corinthian believers to give sacrificially, however, it is taken out of its context to urge believers that Christ died to guarantee them physically and materially riches, and therefore, for them to claim said riches. 

Do you see a difference there? Paul wrote 2 Cor 8:9 to tell believers to give away riches sacrificially to bless others like Christ did; we quote 2 Cor 8:9 to encourage believers to accumulate riches!
I forgot to mention, the spicy African flavored prosperity gospel seems to have a feud with sound Bible interpretation. In the same ministration referenced above on “miracle money”, prophet Angel said the problem with preachers is that they think hermeneutically!
Other posts in the series
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Set Goals with Outcomes, Not Activities!

I’ve cleaned my room” she said as I walked with her to the room. We got there and I briefly wondered if my daughter had some momentary cognitive lapse.  The problem was that we had different views of the goal. You see, she had picked up all the clothes off the floor but dumped them on the bed! Hers was an activity based goal while mine was outcome based.

And mine wasn’t just better because I was the parent or adult. In fact, adults often have goals like hers.

ImageWhether you’re running a business, leading a non-profit, serving a church,  you need to constantly set goals. Organizational progress is impossible without goals – that bit we know. Perhaps you also know to make your goals SMART.

Yes goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable (yet Aggressive), Relevant and Time-bound.

But how do you frame your goals? Do you describe what you will do? Or do you specify what the outcome should be? The latter is always better.

Every parent knows innately that “have a clean and tidy room”, is a better goal than “pick the clothes off the floor”. One is an outcome, the other is an activity. Good teachers know that “…students will be able to resolve challenging problems in mechanics by applying and solving quadratic equations” is a better goal than “I will teach the students all the methods of solving quadratic equations this semester“!

Whether you are rolling out a new product, starting a new ministry or simply trying to get a room clean – frame your goals as outcomes and not as activities.

And yes I explained to my daughter that “what we want is a tidy room”!

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Greatness in Nigeria – Anyiam and the Save Project

I previously wrote in a post that Nigeria is not Great!

While I stand by every word in that post, and still consider it to be a tame description of the state of affairs in our nation, I recognize that there are numerous examples of greatness in our dear country. Therefore I have decided to showcase some obscure examples of greatness in Nigeria. One could say these examples and individuals are not special. In a sense we could say they are just doing what they should normally do, but it is so out of sync with the norm that it should be celebrated. There is so much not to like about the corporate trajectory of Nigeria as a country as I pointed out in the critique mentioned above. However there is also much greatness in Nigeria.

So here is the first portrait of greatness:

Nnaemeka Anyiam is from Imo state in the Southern part of Nigeria. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from Federal University of Technology Owerri. In his early twenties, he is presently on the year-long post-college National Youth Service. And for that he was posted to Zamfara State. Zamfara was the first state to adopt Sharia law in Nigeria and is a stronghold of Islam in northern Nigeria. Nnaemeka is also a christian.

A few years ago during the federal elections many youth corp members were killed in post-election violence. Most of these people were from the Christian south of Nigeria and people called for the abolishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) since the government could not guarantee the protection the youth sent out on national service. Many potential corps members just insist on getting reassigned or just don’t go when posted to the far north for NYSC. Suspicion, nepotism and sectarianism is rife in Nigeria, and the sharpest divide is between the mainly Muslim North and the largely christian South.

Nnaemeka wrote an article recently titled “The NYSC, Zamfara State and I” about his experiences

I also found that the average Hausa Muslim man is truthful, empathic and down-to-earth. When he tells you it is N10 gaskiya, so it is. Tell their bike [motorcycle transport] men you’re stranded and you will more often than not get a free ride. In my PPA [primary place of assignment], my bosses will make tea in the morning and even the gateman will partake, using a mug from the boss’s office, but bosses in the South are to be worshipped from afar. Ordinary change is difficult to get in the East. Here a bike man in motion will stop to make change for a stranded colleague. Eastern traders are in constant customer tussle with themselves, but it’s not so here. Your effort at learning their language is instantly rewarded by slashed prices. These ones are really of a different ilk.

I’ve understood that you don’t stand far off and make up convoluted stories about people. Come closer, live among them and friends, you’ll be amazed at how much you did not know. But more importantly, I’ve seen that we are all the same Nigerians and can exist as one; you as a Christian, I as a Muslim and life will still go on. Our cultural and religious differences are simply variety which we all know is the spice of life. There’s really no need for the hate.

But Nnaemeka doesn’t just write, he is metaphorically putting his money where his mouth is by walking the talk. He is trying to make a difference in Zamfara state through The Save Project. He is trying to provide computer education to public school students, dig water wells in communities without potable water and provide basic supplies  to Almajiri kids.

Despite my dismay at the state of things in Nigeria, it is people, attitudes, and actions like these that give me hope for the future of Nigeria. That is why I’m highlighting Nnaemeka and the Save Project as a portrait of greatness in Nigeria. You  can help support the project here. See the Save project for more information.

 

Feel free to suggest other portraits of greatness in Nigeria.

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Dying Well

Death

” You’ve lost so much weight since we last saw you” he said.

“Yes” she replied “I’m going to see the Lord and perhaps he wants me to be a “slim-fit” by the time I meet him”.
The cancer had ravaged her body, but her sense of humor, as well as her faith in Jesus still shone brightly.

A few days later, I heard she was gone, …dead, all that remained, the shell, which was once her body.

The Igbos of Southern Nigeria where I call home, have a philosophical affair with death as shown by some of the names they bear:

Onwuamaeze, (death has no regard for royalty)

Onwuekweikpe (death defies judgment)

Onwuzuruigbo (death is universal)

Onwukanjo (death is the greatest evil)

There is just something inscrutable about death!

Even the Bible says “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” 1 Corinthians 15:26.

However, for the believer in Jesus, death is not just an end but a beginning. It is the beginning of something infinitely better – every-time.

This makes all the difference in our grieving when we lose someone.

We teach children how to live well, but we rarely teach them how to die well. And yet this is within the purview of the christian life. Paul the apostle hopes (in Philippians 1:20 ) that Christ will be magnified in his body “…whether by life or by death”. Those apostles knew a thing or two about dying well and that was why many of them could look death in the face, and welcome it with grace, and boldness.

It was not because death was any more familiar to them than it was to the next guy, or to us today, but because they knew clearly what death is – a passport to an eternity spent in the presence of God.

Therefore “I shall not die but live to declare the goodness of God” was not their only mantra or prayer.

The dead cannot praise God (on this earth that is) – only the living can praise God around here. But yes, the believing (physically) dead can praise God in a way that no (physically) living people can.

Christians preach and profess the existence of a glorious eternal God to whom we go after our bodies are dead – yet we often live as if the only thing that matters is life on this earth. We pity people who die (in the Lord) as if their lot is ended.

No! We should envy them intensely, because we hope and long for what they enjoy already – the bosom of Christ. For them, as the hymn writer writes “...faith has become sight!”

We are not just physical bodies, and life on this earth as we know it, is only a little portion of what God has designed and destined us for. When a saint dies well, like the woman I watched being laid to rest recently, I am encouraged, and reminded that I am built for something more deeply profound than this portion of my human existence.

My prayer is thus:

Lord don’t just help me live well – please help me to die well.

Adieu Mrs Kim. I miss you. But I will see you someday!

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Posted in Christian Living, Memorial, Theology

Nigeria is not Great!

Picture credit: ynaija.com

Yes I am a Nigerian. And before you call for the lighter and stakes for this unpatriotic Nigerian please hear me out.

My three-year old tells me every other day “everybody likes me!” I can’t help thinking “in your dreams honey” but all I say out loud is “why do you say so?” to which she says ” I just know they like me. Everybody likes me because I’m cute”. So here’s my dilemma; do I burst her bubble now or should I let her continue to live in that fantasy universe where everybody likes her till another five-year old punctures it on her first of Kindergarten?

But what, pray tell, does this have to do with Nigeria? Everyday I hear and see people who say “Nigeria is great” or Nigeria is about to become a world leader in “name your own arena of choice”. And I wonder, “is it the same Nigeria I know or is there another one?” A nation where the citizens and inhabitants cannot take electric power, potable water, and security for granted, is not great. A nation where the healthcare delivery is so dismal that members of the political master-class junket around the world to receive medical treatment for basic or chronic medical conditions (such as trauma from a minor road accident, or weekly dialysis) is not great! Nor is that nation great, which cannot guarantee the quality education of her young.

In Nigeria everyone is a state, people generate their own power, drill and pump their own water, provide their own medical treatment etc. You can say Nigerians are great in our perseverance as we tolerate and live under these conditions while politicians loot our nation’s coffers. But No! Nigeria as a nation is not great!

Unfortunately I hear these “Nigeria is great” statements a lot from Christians like myself who promote the idea  with illicit misuse of scripture.

Below is a recent example which I found on one website promoted by people I know:

Do you know that Nigeria is leading the world?

within the world are over 90% gifted Nigerians discovered to be world potential gifted inventors of products and programs for global need.

IT IS TIME FOR NIGERIANS TO FOCUS ON NIGERIA BECAUSE THE WORLD’S FOCUS IS NOW ON NIGERIA.

The leadership of world power has begun to shift from America to China, and finally to rest in Africa. The revelational word of this great change speaks specifically without distortion that soon Nigeria will stand at the head in the leadership of world power.

The one statement I agree with above is that world’s focus is on Nigeria. It was on Nigeria when Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram fame was designated a terrorist in 2012 and later added to the Rewards for Justice program with a 7 million USD price tag. This is hardly the kind of world attention we want.

But hold on, there’s more…

In 2010, specifically the 50th year of Nigeria’s independence, a new age with prophetic impact and a wind of change began in Nigeria….Nigeria is in that prophetic age where the government of this nation has been taken over by the rulership of God… the seal of this long awaited prophecy was revealed in Leviticus 25:10 to usher in the passage of change leadership age of the nation.

I am still trying to figure out what an Old Testament passage containing God’s instructions to Israel about the year of Jubilee, has to do with Nigeria ascendancy to world power! If you can figure out that mystery, please clue me in.

Nigeria is becoming a global leader in the minds of these people, and there lies the biggest problem of all – the delusional tendency for us not to realize the truthful state of affairs in Nigeria because we keep comparing ourselves to an imaginary standard based on our experiences and yet remain in voluntary blindness to the fact that many of the ‘smaller’ African neighboring countries are better off. The politicians can delude themselves that Nigeria is the giant of Africa in any way other than population. This can lead to continental grandstanding though ECOWAS chairmanship or the alleged run for African Union (AU) chairmanship; or even profligate programs such as African first ladies summit, for which it was rumored and the Nigerian presidency had to deny that it acquired 200 exotic cars! However, the citizens know that those who cannot afford US or European education but want their children to get a good tertiary education today, send them to get a university degree in Ghana. Yet we persist in this make-believe patronizing attitude towards the rest of Africa, because as my ‘friend’ Pius Adesanmi says eloquently here, we have been programmed to be underdeveloped in our minds. So forgive me if I say No! Nigeria is not great!

But make no mistakes about it, Nigeria can be great. She has many resources – mineral, petroleum & natural gas, agricultural as well as human resources. For the past quarter century she has focused on petro-gas resources and neglected the greatest of her diverse set of resources – the human one. It is this human resource that is further denigrated by the imaginary claims of economic and political ascendancy. These claims distract people from the arduous task of nation building. Adding God into the mix makes people believe that despite the corruption, incompetence, government by nepotism and celebration of mediocrity (described here), some miraculous magical wand will wipe away all Nigeria’s problems without requiring any change of attitude, behavior or culture. Hear this more eloquently in Chinua Achebe’s stinging words:

“One of the commonest manifestations of under-development is a tendency among the ruling elite to live in a land of make-believe and unrealistic expectations. This is the cargo cult mentality that anthropologists sometimes talk about – a belief by backwards people that someday without any exertion whatsoever on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their harbor, laden with every goody they have always dreamed of possessing.

Listen to Nigerian leaders, and you will frequently hear the phrase this great country of ours.

Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world. It is one of the most corrupt, insensitive, inefficient places under the sun. It is one of the most expensive countries and one of those that give least value for money. It is dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest, and vulgar. In short, it is among the most unpleasant places on earth

Achebe wrote these accurate words before he passed away earlier this year. Yes, he wrote it before he passed away alright, but he didn’t  write them this year, or last year. He wrote them in his 1983 book “The Trouble with Nigeria“. Thirty years ago! I was in elementary school, and 73 Kobo (0.73 NGN) exchanged for a US Dollar. Comparing just one economic metric (currency exchange rate) the US Dollar exchanges today for about 160NGN!

Achebe continues:

I also believe that, hopeless as she may seem today, Nigeria is not absolutely beyond redemption. Critical, yes, but not entirely hopeless. But every single day of continued neglect brings her ever closer to the brink of the abyss. To pull her back and turn her around is clearly beyond the contrivance of mediocre leadership. It calls for greatness.

I believe we have arrived at the brink of that abyss and are presently teetering on the edge. We need to work towards developing Nigeria instead of waiting for the fairy ship to arrive. We don’t need people who believe Nigeria is great as she is! Because those people do not know the meaning of greatness. We need people who believe that Nigeria CAN be great, and who will work towards it by contributing to its growth, and by holding the leaders responsible for doing what they are elected to do, not praising them falsely and proclaiming them Messiahs from unrelated Bible passages.

I love Nigeria, because that is where God chose to situate my birth and nationality, and it is therefore where I have a responsibility to help develop. I believe God will use people to do that work. I sincerely hope that it would not be as prophets under the influence of the lying spirit of Micaiah’s vision in 1 Kings 22. I read a lot online about how “Nigerians are good people” or how “we should remain hopeful and not give up on Nigeria!” – These are both sentiments I share deeply. However, most of them are invariably accompanied by the present description of Nigeria as a great nation, therefore I have chosen to part ways with that message for the purpose of this post. Saying Nigeria is great and just believing that because we merely think it and say it, she will become so, is not faith – it is idle speculation! See James 2:26!

Nobody enjoys pointing out failings and flaws evident in his country (okay perhaps some people do  – I don’t), but it is necessary here because unlike in Achebe’s 1983 diagnosis where it is largely  the political leaders rulers who suffer this delusion of grandeur, today many of us citizens seem to be afflicted with the ailment. Nigeria can be great, but she is not great today. And the path to greatness begins with a recognition – and rejection – of her present condition!

Anything short of this frustrates me! That I gladly admit – because of my wish to live in the real world, not the imaginary world where everyone likes my three-year old and Nigeria is leading the world!

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