Christianity is a way of life, but I bet you, in Nigeria, it’s more and more a creed that you just need to pretend to profess. When the Apostles were called Christians in Antioch, it was not about their eloquence, for though many were eloquent, they were not the best orators in the town. There were categories of public speakers and sophists who made their living entertaining their audiences. It was not about their prophecy utterances, for the entire region had many ambulant prophets. But for the disciples, it was rather because they acted like Christ. Their exemplary life was their real message.
Unfortunately, many people today have lost that sense of Christlike Christianity. We are now condemning others and seeking prophecy and miracles. We no longer think of “was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink”. “I needed clothes, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you looked after me; I was in prison, and you came to visit me. Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”.
In different milieu, we meet people who dress like Jesus but can poison you if it will create a little space for them to thrive. Pastors are robbing their church members and initiating unlimited numbers of fake occasions to defraud their followers.
Parish priests treat their vicars like kids and insult their parishioners like touts at the motor park. Religious sisters are treading on the toes and heads of their fellow religions like they are cockroaches. Those in authority at all levels rob the system of a stupor and maltreat those under them. Founders and superiors go as far as physically punishing and humiliating (sometimes publicly) their fellow religious without an iota of regret. Formators are treating those they are forming like they are in a refugee camp. Does it shock you? Look well around you now and tell me that I’m lying.
Traders are cheating on their clients like it’s our cultural heritage. Everybody is playing to outsmart the other as if we are in a computer game. And honesty is now considered either a virtue reserved only to be practised in paradise or as the highest form of naivety.
And despite that, you have churches sprouting like mushrooms on every street. Pastors multiply like kits on a fertile farm. Seminaries and convents are populated with men and women, like at Ogbete main market. New religious congregations are founded yearly, like they are kindergarten schools.
Nigeria now exports churches and missionaries like our damned oil. Our locally found churches are waxing both in Africa and in the diaspora. We pray both in private and in public, like praying mantis.
Yet, corruption is spreading like wildfire. Even our Vice President is a pastor, whereas the government he is at the helm of is the worst in the entire Africa. We have normalized fraud and corruption like our right hand. And like it or hate it, this nation exists only by the Grace of God. If it were in the time of the Old Testament, we should have been due for exile. And before you crucify me, there are real and authentic Nigerians, but they are now as rare as precious stones. And on many occasions, you better look for them, not in our worship centers.
Onye asila na mu ekwughi – I don talk am!