Presentation on theme: "UNDISCIPLED CHURCH The crisis within THE pivotal role of the Church in shaping the destiny of man in every dispensation of human history has been phenomenal;"— Presentation transcript:
THE pivotal role of the Church in shaping the destiny of man in every dispensation of human history has been phenomenal; both then and now, such that, she cannot be overlooked. But as paramount as this, is what causes jitters down one’s spinal cord when such a body with such a great and enviable role portends to lose her saltiness. Well, before ever delving into other areas and issues that may arise from the discourse before us, there are three keywords we must explore in the discourse before us. These are: ‘undiscipled’, ‘church’, and ‘crisis’. Undiscipled: This is the direct opposite of the verb ‘to disciple’. To disciple simply means to teach, train and impact with the sole aim of becoming a follower of (in this case) Jesus Christ. This concept i.e. ‘to disciple’ has its root or link in Christianity as clearly seen in Christ’s relationship with the early disciples. Hence the injunction in Matthew 28:19-20 that is today referred to in Christendom as The Great Commission. So, one can rightly say that being undiscipled means not taught, trained and impacted with this singularly aim of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. Little wonder we have more of followers of men, traditions and doctrines in the Church of our day?
Church: Though already a household name among men all over the world, this word has been sadly misunderstood by even those who claim to be Christians let alone the secular world. Most percentage of Christians today, though claiming to know the meaning of this word yet, in their subconscious they actually agree with what the secular world says and paints of the Church in their character manifestations. The world tells us that the Church is a place where Christians worship with a captivating graphical illustration of a structural edifice. And this we have imbibed from cradle such that it becomes difficult to erase from our minds.
The Church, friend, is a people and not a place. It is a community of people (believers) detached from this world under one King as Lord; one Kingdom ruled by divine laws other than the laws of the kingdoms of this world. We saw this clearly shown by the early Church as this necessitated the severe persecutions she went through in the hands of brutal Roman Emperors and the likes. It is not just one of those kindergarten or elementary lessons of: what is this? It is a church stuff mentality which sadly though, majority of us are carrying all about. A proper understanding of who you are will go a long way to shaping how you comport yourself. This is what informs our having to go this way on this issue.
Crisis: This could simply mean disaster, catastrophe, emergency, calamity or predicament. It is also a turning point for better or worse. That there is a crisis is not what matters as to what one makes of it. It is on this note we go sailing together on our discourse. When Christ founded the Church (the word founded here is not used in the sense of general overseers having to own structural edifices or empires as seen in our day. They can only found denominations and organizations as Jesus Christ is the one and only foundation of his Church.), He gave us a model; a prototype, a pattern which the Church of our contemporary time must follow. One of the very first things Christ did was to call the very twelve disciples who were to be his Church to be with him first and foremost – Mk.3:14: “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.”(KJV) This is one cardinal area the Church greatly plays down on. All through the Church’s history as seen in the Bible, this principle of ‘staying first with the Lord’ which is our modern day discipling, has always been the pattern. Any weird phenomenon other than this will but only produce weird results. We see this as clearly typified in the lives of the Israelites when they forsook God for the Gold Calf in Ex. 32. These people (Israelites) only knew God for his acts (deeds) and not his ways – Ps.103:7.
It takes a deliberate effort of discipling for a man to know God not just for his acts only but for both – acts and ways. While the former could just be a bait (attraction), the latter builds character in a man that causes him to be rooted in God. This could mean why the Israelites when they saw no bait in the form of an attraction they quickly sought for one in the Gold Calf. Attractions or baits will always elapse in a matter of time because they have no roots. So also it is with those who go after them. We saw this clearly dramatized in the life of the Israelites. That generation never saw the Promised Land save Joshua and Caleb who proved themselves exceptional. But worrisomely, is this fact that the present day Church has bidden staunchly for the ‘acts ‘ and as a result we see an undiscipled Church that has become a crisis within herself.
Come to think of this: Have you ever wondered why many who claim to have belonged to one church or the other have always been found wanting and their lives filled with gory tales when given secular appointments? Why is it also that most of us who claim to be Christians do not reflect our Christianity in our endeavors such as career, business, relationships, etc outside our churches? The basic truth is this missing link between God’s acts and his ways which informs on discipleship. We celebrate people rather than disciple them in the Church today. More emphasis is on ‘doing’ than ‘being’. We are witnesses to how the Church had lost some her new converts from the Islamic, occult, witchcraft and other satanic kingdoms as a result of negligence of not discipling them.
There is this story a brother once told us. In it, he mentioned names of two notable converts the Church in Nigeria won some time ago. Now; as at when he was narrating, most remarkably but pathetic though, was the fact that one of these converts was nowhere to be found and the other had backslidden. These were converts the Church won from witchcraft and occult kingdoms. What happened? The Church was just busy on a promotional tour. These converts will be taken to cities, towns, crusade grounds and even church auditoriums. Their ministry was to testify of their salvation, expose mysteries of witchcraft and occult worlds. Overnight these converts have become ministers. This continued on and on. And since that was the only thing the Church could do for them, the result was what had been previously mentioned.
This trend is still very much in vogue. The place of discipleship is relegated and in some cases made a ship-wreck of. Today we see new Muslim converts and others who may have had some dramatic experiences being paraded all over the places by ministers in the Church. Their experiences and narratives are recorded live and the audio and video CD’s flood the whole place. Both genuine and fake testimonies are mass produced. Genuine testimonies which were given out on the grounds of high confidentiality are pirated and before you know it; such testimonies are in CD’s in the public market. These new converts are exposed to a lot of hazards either in terms of risk of their lives or corruption of their souls (lost of salvation). These converts become means of commerce, projection of men and denominational image and control. Men jostle to have these converts under them just to say they are their ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ even when they never contributed anything toward their conversion and worst still, will not do anything to disciple them.
What the modern Church calls discipling is better called ‘hero worship’. This is because there is more emphasis on a man. Hero worship points men to man but, discipleship points men to Jesus Christ and the Word. We see more of an imitation of men in the Church. That people imitate your hairstyle, phonetics, dressing, prayer pattern and all sorts of charismatic displays does not make them true disciples of Christ. ‘ Discipleship’, as rightly said by Rick Warren in his book: The Purpose Driven Life, ‘is not imitation but inhabitation. It is Christ living through us.’ Not we doing some copycat stuff. Furthermore, it is not giving cash or some material gifts either. True discipleship points men to the gospel of the cross which is the holistic gospel of pain and joy. The idea of pain is seen as a taboo in the Church today such that believers hardly want to taste discomfort for the gospel. Most people in the Church are grounded on what men say and not what God says in his word. So, when the storms of life come beckoning on them, they call it quit.
Again, a truly discipled Church spends time in God’s Word so as to verify the veracity of issues and not on some human prophecies, visions or experiences. The supreme authority and constitution of the Church is the Word of God and every prophecy, vision and related matters as pertains to her are guided by it. We see this in the case of the Jerusalem Council and the Berean Church in Acts 15:13-20 and 17:11-12. Instead of people being taught the true Word of God and allowed to experience Him by living out scriptures when they come to the Church, they are pampered and projected upfront. Why will they not wither under the heat of the sun when they never passed through the crucible of fire? Why will they not misfire under the guise of prophesy and vision when they do not know that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets – 1Cor.14:32. Discipleship truly develops men to become embodiments of the fruit of the Spirit as in Gal.5:22-23 and not just possessors of the gifts of the Spirit. This salient truth leads to the fact that a man may possess all the spiritual gifts and may not qualify for God’s Kingdom. But a possessor of the fruit of the Spirit is even at a better operational level of the gifts of the Spirit and possesses God’s character which is the ultimate of God’s purpose for mankind – that Christ be formed in us – Rom. 8:29.
A discipled Church will have the right perspective and approach to issues and life generally. It’s really appalling when one hears believers speak on issues like wealth, possessions and general life issues. They talk in such manners that make you really want to wonder if it is the same Christianity we read from the Bible about the early Church. More heart rending is the way they go about acquiring things. We acquire and re-acquire that we seem to be telling the world there is no better place than here (earth) thereby, making the gospel message more or less a farce before the unbeliever. The Church can be described rightly as put in the words of Selwyn Hughes as being “afflicted with the disease called ‘affluenza’’’. The Church says there is a better home in heaven but in practice says we have come to stay right here on earth. Little wonder why most people do not believe in heaven or hell? Because it is like asking: ‘Are these people (i.e. the contemporary Church) really embarking on a journey to a better place up there?’
An undiscipled Church breeds hooliganism, jamborees and has no place for decorum. Yet, she interpretes all of these as Holy Ghost manifestations and having a swell time in God’s presence! There is just too much of a showbiz in the Church in our present time that we seem to have lost sense of discipline. Check out the content of our songs, prayers and even sermons. They are more of a reflection of the shallowness, dryness and vanity of our acclaimed Christian character content. We need a truly and thoroughly discipled Church to change the status quo.
A critical look into the Church in our day reveals that core and true Christian values and virtues are missing out. Take for instance, this idea of faith. So much that our values are so ephemeral, we have always thought of faith as this ‘grab-grab’ thing. And when our prayers are purportedly not answered the virtue of patience is thrown away and people do all what not in the name of faith. Whereas, scripture tells us the heroes of faith we celebrate today never ‘received the promise’ – Heb.11:39. So, it means God reserves the prerogative when it comes to prayers. Modern day Christianity wants to treat God like a genie that must do their bidding.
This idea of a dearth of core and true Christian values and virtues also informs the reason why we may not boldly talk about Christian warriors or heroism today as of the days of the early Church. Though the idea is not to give credence to ‘Islamic warriors’, the question is: How many of us Christians today really have that willingness to die for our religion. Like the saying goes: a man is known truly for what he believes: not in the creeds he confesses but what he is prepared to die for. A true test of this was during the early days of Boko Haram insurgence in the Northern parts of our nation. Permit me to say here, that most of the acclaimed Christians who migrated from the South went there with their businesses or wares but never with their Bibles. And as such, when their wares and investments were at risk they relocated. They could die for their investments and so they did everything to safeguard them. But their Christianity? Oh no! It can stand on its own? These ‘other men’ are trained thus: the ‘crescent’, the secular; which the Church is actually meant to be in this sense: the ‘cross’, the secular, but for the bane of an undiscipled Church, complacency is the toast of the day. It is no wonder therefore, why our Christianity hardly bears on our endeavors of life.
The situation we are in now is truly a bane which has driven the Church to a crisis not really for worse but one would say for good. Good in the sense that we can see reasons why we need to correct things and get back on track with the Lord. One major step to curing a disease is to know its cause so the right medication can be applied. And as earlier said, any weird phenomenon other than discipleship will but only produce weird results in the Church.