For the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many.
If the foot should say, Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?
If the ear should say, Because I am not the eye, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where [would be the sense of] hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where [would be the sense of] smell?
But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation.
But if [the whole] were all a single organ, where would the body be?
And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
But instead, there is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak.
And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it.
Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].
1 Cor. 12:14-19, 21, 22, 26-27 [AMP]
There seems to be a lie that has gained popularity and acceptance in modern Christianity. And that lie is this: that any believer, group or denomination can exist on its own, being totally isolated from other believers, groups or denominations. I cannot trace the origin of this lie. But I know that it’s a lie.
Over the years, many churches, groups and denominations have broken off from their “mother churches”. It seems really plausible to many ministers to form denominations or churches after seemingly getting “fresh light” over some non-biblical practice or unscriptural doctrine present in their churches. What amazes me is how some of these new ministries openly criticize the churches that they once belonged to.
I remember studying the life of Martin Luther, the Reformed Theologian of the 15th Century, sometime last year. After nailing his famous 95-point thesis on the door of the church at Wittenburg, he didn’t leave the Roman Catholic Church. Now, some have criticized him to be weak. Others have said that he couldn’t bear to lose the privileges that he had been enjoying by virtue of his position in the church. But what if he really didn’t want to leave or break off from the Roman Catholic Church? What if he really wanted to change what he had considered to be unscriptural in the church without necessarily breaking off? Does that make a man weak?
Truth be told, we might never be able to overcome certain differences. I can’t imagine any Pentecostal church dropping their 5-fold ministry structure to adopt a more orthodox structure. I also cannot see many ministries forsaking their style of worship. Some won’t ever believe in tongues. Some will never believe in baptism by sprinkling. Many will never believe that God always prospers his people and never inflicts suffering (yes, some believers believe that). To some, every televangelist is a fraud.
So the devil lies to us. He makes us believe that anyone who doesn’t support our view of scripture is in error and needs help. The truth, however, remains that we’re all still parts of the body. If I say my hands are not part if my body, does that make it so? Remember what happened when the disciples saw others who weren’t following them using the name of Jesus?
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
Luke 9:49-50 [KJV]
Jesus gives us only one way to know if we’re to associate with any person or not: if they’re against us or not. The question isn’t whether they preach the same thing that we preach or not. It isn’t a question of how correct they are theologically. No! It’s about whether they believe in Jesus Christ as the only begotten of the Father who came to the earth and sacrificed Himself so that man might be restored unto God or not. Does he genuinely believe in Jesus? Does he believe that He is God and dwelt with the Father before the creation of the world (Jn. 17:15)? Does He believe in the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead sent to be our Comforter and our seal until the day of redemption? Then he is my brother! Then he isn’t against us!
Oh, how we’ve used our hands to divide what the Father never divided. Now, I don’t believe all that is taught in my church. I don’t find some practices to be totally scriptural. Yes, they may be founded upon scriptures, but also upon man’s philosophy. I’m yet to see a church with the perfect set of doctrines. But that’s not my cue to stand up and say, “You’re all a bunch of devils! Can’t you see what is clearly before you in scriptures?”
Yes, I am Pentecostal. But that’s not what God sees me as. He sees me as a son. Regardless of what we call ourselves, Pentecostal or Evangelical or Roman Catholic, He sees us all as sons. Your denomination is what you will only use on earth. Trust me, you won’t carry it to Heaven. I can live without my hands, but I choose not to! I can survive without my eyes, but I choose not to! My hand might he diseased. But I will continue to love and pray for that hand. I won’t let it go. No, I love it too much to let it go.
I share a link to a video below. Francis Chan (a non-charismatic minister) spoke at Mike Bickle’s Onething Conference in 2015 and truly gives us an accurate picture of what brotherhood should really be like in the Church today. I pray you’ll be blessed after seeing this.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017
It is well there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us. It is well there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. O my soul, set not thine affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures, but set thine heart upon Him who abides for ever faithful to thee. Build not thine house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world, but found thy hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure.
My soul, I charge thee, lay up thy treasure in the only secure cabinet; store thy jewels where thou canst never lose them. Put thine all in Christ; set all thine affections on His person, all thy hope in His merit, all thy trust in His efficacious blood, all thy joy in His presence, and so thou mayest laugh at loss, and defy destruction. Remember that all the flowers in the world’s garden fade by turns, and the day cometh when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth. Death’s black extinguisher must soon put out thy candle.
Oh! how sweet to have sunlight when the candle is gone! The dark flood must soon roll between thee and all thou hast; then wed thine heart to Him who will never leave thee; trust thyself with Him who will go with thee through the black and surging current of death’s stream, and who will land thee safely on the celestial shore, and make thee sit with Him in heavenly places for ever. Go, sorrowing son of affliction, tell thy secrets to the Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. Trust all thy concerns with Him who never can be taken from thee, who will never leave thee, and who will never let thee leave Him, even “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” “Lo, I am with you always,” is enough for my soul to live upon.
Excerpt from Charles Surgeon’s Morning & Evening.
Note: This is the second post on a series in The 21st Century Minister section. To read the first post, click here.
I was excited. I was very excited. I was going to finally see the man that I respected so much. I tried so hard to get my roommates excited. They hadn’t heard of him before, so their expressions had been indifferent each time I chattered endlessly about the teaching ability of this man. I had stumbled upon his teachings the year before and simply fell in love with the way he taught God’s word. He spoke with such calmness that the authority could be detected in his voice. I respected him. My fellowship was finally inviting him, this great icon in my head, to one of our major programs. I was enthusiastic. I was finally going to see him and listen to him live. My heart was open from the very first day of the Conference. I sang and worshipped God with joy in my heart. I was ready to be blessed. I was ready to receive from God’s servant. Even the devil’s most experienced minions weren’t going to take away my blessings. But what I experienced wasn’t what I had been expecting for long. I experienced what my Dad had indirectly told me to expect years before.
My Dad and I discuss about matters of State and Religion whenever we get the chance. He is a wonderful conversationalist. He succeeded in passing that trait unto my brothers and I. My Dad loves education. He wasn’t so privileged, but he never ceases to praise those who give their all to get the best education available for themselves and/or their children. On one occasion, he told me how a particularly popular ministry in Nigeria didn’t ordain pastors who didn’t have their bachelor’s degree. Come what may, regardless of the call of God upon a minister’s life, a bachelor’s degree is a ministerial prerequisite.
I know that my Computer Science degree will have little or no effect upon my pastoral ministry should God instruct me to have one. But many ministries these days will probably consider me to be somewhat better than those without degrees. And when these ministries employ pastors without degrees to serve in their ministries, it is almost certain that these pastors will never pastor any big church – they might pastor the churches in Maiduguri, but not the ones in Maitama.
The educated pastors also seem to have better control of the congregation when they preach. Do they study on how to make men respond to their sermons or is it entirely the work of the Holy Spirit? I remember the sermons I used to listen to when I was much younger. They used to be simple, with fewer words and lesser complexities. I could paraphrase the preacher’s words and write down his definitions the way that I wanted. I could relate with God’s word when his servants taught. Life was easier. Life still is, actually.
Many of the young believers that I know today will not sit under a sermon if the preacher occasionally fluffs. They would argue that they need “strong words” – meat, according to Hebrews 5:12. Sometimes the meat that they refer to is simply coherency in words. Better know how to string the perfect words together and drop nice punchlines, else you’d be feeding your congregation with milk fit for babes.
That night (the first day of the Conference), I heard so much “word”, much of which I can’t remember today. I didn’t understand 50% of the entire sermon. And I was supposedly an assistant Bible Study Coordinator in my home church! What happened to the days of birds, sparrows and flowers? Has our education affected our sermon delivery? I know that we should never compare ourselves to the White folks. English is a foreign language to us. It should be used with due consideration for every congregation. I know that my grandmother or my cousins from the village cannot attend church with me. I would have to take them to a simpler church.
Well, what do I know? I’m just a layman. I might not know spiritual things as I ought to. I’m just the guy who plays the keyboard. But I do know that I love simple sermons. I have a saying that I love to tease my friend, Divine, with. I would tell him, “If you can’t explain any biblical concept or truth to a mad man, you haven’t succeeded in your teaching ministry.” Harsh, I know. But ministers have serious work to do. What’s the point in delivering a mighty sermon if no one understands what you said half of the time? I’d rather have the entire congregation understand my words than a select few, who previously have knowledge of spiritual things.
Dear 21st Century Minister, the sermons that ever changed history were simple ones. They weren’t full of the intellectualism that we see today. Those sermons weren’t bent at making words rhyme. They were simple sermons that came from simple men, most of whom were uneducated and unschooled. The great A.W. Tozer was almost rejected the opportunity to be ordained as a minister because he simple wasn’t qualified. No pastoral training, no impressive educational records.. simply a heart running after God, a soul deeply desiring its Saviour.
Always remember that Jesus preached with simple words. Even the great Apostle said that he taught God’s Word with simplicity and with power. I believe that it is safe to assume that in simplicity lies power. I’d rather speak two words in pidgin and see lives transformed than use all the words from the dictionary and lead a dead congregation.
May God help us value and love the simple. Amen.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017
I remember the first day she smiled at me
She had tied my heart with strong reins
And I became a willful captive, bound by
The simple thought of my mistress
Her voice became my very bread, I
Would wake up everyday hoping to hear
The voice that made me come alive inside,
The words that could set me on fire
I would spend evenings under the moon,
Thinking about her beauty and grace
This belle had stolen my heart, and never
Knew that a dark hollow stood in its place
Her voice, her smile and her laughter soon
Became inadequate to quench the desire that
Began to grow within, fires had been started that
Couldn’t be extinguished by man
I was a man on fire, a man obsessed with Tamar
I became ill, I almost lost my mind
I wanted Tamar, I wanted her so bad that I
Could disregard my Father’s precepts and laws
It wasn’t time, I wasn’t ready, but my hormones
Took over and made me their slave, fettered and
Shackled by mere substances that had been created
By my Father to be in my control and power
I needed to have her so desperately, and I did
I striped her of her innocence and made her
Lay bare upon the cold ground, I made her
Mine and basked in my conquest
But my smile was soon replaced by a frown
My joy disappeared into thin air, like smoke
Dissipated by the cool evening breeze
My love soon gave way to hate
I couldn’t spend another minute with her, so
I sent her out of my chambers, hurt and ignominious
My raging hormones went to sleep and I saw,
For the first time, how I had been decieved
I have had twelve other Tamars since then
I fall each time; one Tamar had given way
To several others and I am continually weak,
My hormones always beating my willpower
But Father beckons unto me, I hear Him say,
“Come,” through the mess that I call my life
I feel His love breaking the hardness in my heart
And this time I am letting go
If I ever meet Tamar again, I will treat
Her like the daughter of a King, I will beg
The King for his blessings
I will go on my knees and plead
Until the King says yes, I won’t pursue
I will wait at the foot of that throne till
He says yes, I will wait until the King
Proclaims his blessings on us
Every Tamar is the King’s daughter..
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017
This is the second post in the series Unequal Christianity. To read the first post, click here.
Ade frowned as his mum shared the slices of bread for breakfast between him and his older brother, Kunle. Ade was used to this breakfast every weekday – warm tea and a few slices of bread. His mum worked in a bank and had to resume work before 8am everyday. This prevented her from waking up early to cook. The properly made tea and the delicious Prom Bread wasn’t what made Ade frown. What made him frown was the fact that his mum had given Kunle two extra slices of bread.
“Ade, you should be used to this by now,” his mum said quietly. “The older among siblings will always have special privileges. They will receive bigger meats, eat larger meals and collect larger sums of money. There is no way that all siblings will have the same privileges.”
But Ade wasn’t one to believe in special privileges for older folks.
“We are equal, mum,” he had often told his mum, “we should enjoy the same privileges.”
His mum would often reply, “No, son, you’re not. But you’ll understand someday, Ade. You will.”
Adele hated the preferential treatment. If they loved me as much they loved Kunle, then we should be treated the exact same way, he would often tell himself. Sadly, Ade is a Nigerian and, in most cultures in the West African country, older siblings enjoy special privileges. In some families, the younger children end up having an inferior mindset. Many of them believe that they will always be at best “the alternative” and never the first choice among their older siblings.
But a different culture is seen in God’s Kingdom.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
Rom. 8:17. NIV
In my own opinion, our siblinghood is unafrican. Why? Because nobody has greater privileges. Age doesn’t give anyone preferential treatment, neither does money or fame. No ones access is greater than that of another.
“And make a veil of blue, purple, and scarlet [stuff] and fine twined linen, skillfully worked with cherubim on it.
And you shall hang the veil from the clasps and bring the ark of the Testimony into place within the veil; and the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.”
Exo. 26:31,33. AMP
The High Priest (not just any priest) was the only one permitted to get into the Holy of Holies and it was only for once in a year. Imagine offending someone you love so much and not being able to meet that person face-to-face to apologize and hear that special person say, “I’ve forgiven you.” That’s exactly how was! The ordinary man never came to meet and know God personally. The High Priest would enter on behalf of the entire nation of Israel and make an atonement for all of their sins.
The concept of an intimate relationship with God was scarcely understood by the Israelites those days. The veil then stood as a divide between the outside world and the tangible presence of the Father. In my own words, “No man could come into the presence of the Father except through the veil.” And, boy, the veil had been a pretty sight – a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen of cunning work.
But that pretty veil had prevented them from knowing God intimately. In fact, I believe that the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 by the Romans signified an end to the old system. In a sense, that temple signified the continuation of the old covenant. Now we know that “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, doe not live in temples made by man.” (Acts 17:24)
We all know that He is the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him. No more veil! But so many believers still have their own custom made veil. For some, their spiritual heads are their veils. For others, denominational doctrines and dogma exist as veils. Ignorance also stands as a veil for some.
I believe that we have the best gift from God since Adam fell – A.C.C.E.S.S. You can know God. No one has more access than you do. We all have the same “amount” of access. Just come boldly unto the throne of grace. You will not meet any gatekeeper. Let nothing and nobody stop you. Destroy whatever veil that still exists.
You are dearly loved and your lover longs for fellowship. Learn to enjoy His presence. Nothing else can really satisfy you but him.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017
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