That They All May Be Divided?

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.

Continue reading

Unequal Christianity [Part Two]

Unequal

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

Unequal Christianity [Part One]

Unequal

​The concept of equality amongst all members of many religious group is highly underrated. I remember reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm  many years ago. According to this political satire, animals on Manor Farm rebelled against the farm owner, Mr. Jones, under the leadership of two young pigs – Snowball and Napoleon. The pigs in the farm were the most literate. They even knew how to read. The farm was renamed “Animal Farm” after the ousting of Mr. Jones.

One major change in Animal Farm was the adoption of the Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which had been, “All animals are equal.” Things moved quite smoothly on the farm until Mr. Jones, along with several of his men and other farm owners terrified of animal revolts, tried and failed to recapture Animal Farm. This failure definitely boosted the morale of those animals.

However, things began to get awry between Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon orders his dogs to chase Snowball away and has himself declared leader. Napoleon also began to purge the farm with his dogs, killing animals he accused of working with Snowball. The pigs, under Napoleon, started to resemble humans – they wore clothes, carried whips and walked upright. A major adjustment came later as the Seven Commandments was abridged to a single phrase: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Bottom line, Napoleon became the new leader. The animals realized that tyranny wasn’t peculiar to humans and that the rebellion didn’t bring exactly what they had imagined it would bring.

Are all believers equal? Imagine having an abridged version of the Seven Commandments of Animalism being upheld in Christendom: “All Christians are equal but some Christians are more equal than others.” While no such commandment exists in Christendom, some believers actually have something similar to this in their heads as part of their Theology.

“Surely all believers can’t be equal,” they might argue. “The apostles were definitely higher than the other believers after Jesus’ death and resurrection,” some would say. “Isn’t the five-fold ministry supposed to separate us all into strata? Ministry and spiritual gifts make us unequal.”

A brief look at Christendom today might actually strengthen these arguments. We have a Christianity where many lay people are taught to bow and cower before certain few. But the original picture of Christianity is a religion of equality. All Christians are equal. But if we are to say that two things, ideas, people, etc are equal, then we must have a measuring standard. Equality can’t be said to exist except a standard exists that is accepted by all the parties involved.

So, what is our measuring gauge? Simple! A.C.C.E.S.S. While I won’t be doing much exposition in this post, I’ll do so much in the next. I have often heard preachers emphasize on so many things in the Church – from faith to prosperity to spiritual gifts to love to holiness to grace. What I haven’t heard so much, however, is what I like to call The Doctrine of Equality. It’s Easter, the season we celebrate Christ’s death and His resurrection. And one thing that that resurrection brought was equality.

Access brought equality. The fact that we all have exactly the same degree of access means that we’re all equal. If some people had greater access, they could called “greater”. But we all have exactly the same access. Access determines ranking. I’ll do more exposition in the next post.

Until then, feel free to drop your comments and questions. What exactly does equality mean to you? Do you think it’s a big deal?
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017

The Devil Also Dresses Like God

© Google Images

Will you recognize a devil when you see one? Do you honestly think that you’ll be able to spot the differences between the devil and God when you see him? For many, the way to differentiate the devil from God is by their works. While this is a good way, I strongly believe that it is not sufficient. I know of folks who expect only good things from God and never bad things. In the same boat with them are those who believe that all bad things are from the devil.

There’s a little flaw in that theological standpoint. Do we assume that the devil never gives good things? If we’re to recognize the devil only by his works, then we’re faced with a big problem because the devil also gives things that appear as good things. Do we also assume that God never sends trials? Trials never appear as good things. Trials are different from temptations. Temptations are meant to make you fall, not to make you stand. Trials are meant to make you stronger. And yes, trials do come from God. He doesn’t tempt us, but He tests us. So, works is a poor way to sufficiently differentiate between God and the devil.

If we judge simply by sight, we’ll never be able to adequately tell when the devil acts. A lot of folks have mistaken attacks from the devil as tests from God. So, we see believers struggling with certain habits and saying that it’s their thorn in flesh. People take the experience of Paul out of context and make excuses for their struggles. We must learn to differentiate between God’s acts and the devil’s. We must learn to know when Jesus is in the boat and when He’s not. I find this as a very important part of our walk.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 1:16 [KJV]

The servant of Job knew that God sent lightning. He knew that it was part of His many capabilities. But at that moment, he mistook the lightning as God’s fire. He saw what he had been taught to believe as fire from God. There was no way that he would have imagined that the fire hadn’t been from God. The truth, however, had been that the fire had been orchestrated by the devil. Oh yes, the devil also dresses like God!

How many times have men who were full of the Spirit mistaken the fire from the devil as though it was from God. Jesus had even said, “Fake messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better.” [Matt. 24:24, MSG]

We’re certain of two things. The first is that false men will surface (and they will look exactly like the real guys). Their works will look like the real thing even. Secondly, note that Jesus didn’t say that these guys might come. He said that they would come. Here again we see the believer faced with the task of knowing who is God’s and who is not. As in our day, when we have so many ministries, the believer is faced with the serious task of discerning who’s right and who’s not.

How will you know when the devil dresses like God? How do you define a move of God? How many times has God left and His children still announced His Presence? How exactly will one know when He’s in the room? These are tough questions for many. And I believe that tough questions need answers. Enough of people being our god. Every believer can know who is God’s man and who’s not. A lot don’t just know how to.

All answers can be easily answered using Scriptures. All, not some. God is not One who confuses His people. No, He’s not. He’s a Father that wants His children to understand Him.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jer. 9:23-24 [KJV]

I hope to go on a journey on this blog and share how we can answer some of these questions. Thanks for stopping by. Expect more in the weeks to come. Remain blessed!

© Eleazar Maduka

Will I Ever Become Perfect?

Perfection is a big word. It’s a big, scary word. Why? Because nobody ever seems to attain it. It’s the one thing that everybody pursues but never seem to attain, a height that we all fail to reach. At least that’s how a lot of us see perfection. When we imagine a perfect human, we see one without flaws. Somehow the perfect man or woman shouldn’t have one single character flaw. Perfect set of teeth, not too fat, not so slim, the perfect smile, an angelic voice, smart, intelligent and funny, with a great personality and rich (oh yes, that fellow much be rich). Everything must be without one flaw.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matt. 5:48 [KJV]

You just read one of the toughest pills for a lot of believers to swallow found in the New Testament. Why is this verse so hard to accept? Why is it a tough pill to swallow? For many, this portion of Scripture is one that is to be skipped or at best ignored. Surely no man can be as perfect as God is. How will Jesus even think of asking us to be perfect, even as The Father is perfect? Surely Jesus was making a mistake. Maybe Matthew misinterpreted what He had actually said.

God had actually given the same instruction to Abraham many years before Jesus had even been born. So, two different times, God gets this message across to us: Be ye perfect (Gen. 1:17, Matt. 5:48). God does not waste words. I usually see God as One so busy that He doesn’t have the time to just talk the way that we humans do.

So, we know that God takes this perfection thing serious. He means it. He longs to see us perfect. Hard to believe? It shouldn’t be. God never makes a demand on you that you’ll be unable to respond to. If God says, “Jump,” then believe that you can jump. He has put inside you something that can make you jump. I think that’s where we must start from in our walk: believing that we can become perfect.

My list of flaws is endless. I’m exceedingly sinful. I am the biggest failure upon the face on the earth. I can’t even sustain a relationship. I’ve lost so many friends simply because I talk too much. My anger has gotten me in trouble so many times. I’m 30 already, can anything change? Can this perfection that Jesus talks of ever become a reality in my life? My life is too much of a mess for me to even say the word.

How then on Earth can I become perfect? Okay, I believe that perfection can be attained, but how? How can this weak person ever become as strong as a lion? How will perfection come? Should I fast more and eat less? Should I pray more? Is there some magical formula that somehow make men perfect?

I think we need to understand what perfection means before moving on. In God’s eye, when is a man perfect? The answer is simple: when that corn that springs forth looks exactly like that which died.


Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.

Jn. 12:24 [MSG]


So, He expects us to look just like the corn that died in order to bring us into the Kingdom. Paul wrote in His letter to the Roman church,God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name.” (Rom. 8:29-30, MSG)

So, everyone does not have their own individual standard with which he/she measures his/her perfection. There is one standard: Jesus Christ. So, perfection for us today means that we look exactly like Jesus. Tough? Difficult? Impossible? Look for any word that connotes impossibility. But God never places any demand that we’ll be unable to respond to. Jesus told us to be perfect because we can and not because we can’t!

Clive Staples Lewis, Christian apologist and popular author who lived last century, wrote in his book Mere Christianity the best explanation that I’ve ever read on the subject.

That is why He warned people to “count the cost” before becoming Christians. “Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand I am going to see this job through.

Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect — until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”

So, it’s not about whether or not you can work out your way and be perfect on your own. He’s ready to work in you. So long as you yield your members unto righteousness, you’ll be perfect. As long as you remain patient while He works in you, you’ll be perfect. Perfection becomes a thing of surrender and not of struggle.

But watch out! He’ll prune the unnecessary things from your life. He’ll strip you of some pleasurable things. You’ll lose your comfort. You might even cry so much. Surgery is never pleasant, and that’s why doctors use anaesthesia for their patients. The Holy Spirit will work so tirelessly in you and with you (it’s a partnership) until you look just like the grain of wheat that died.

So, perfection is attainable. Don’t let anyone ever tell you something different. If God said so, then it is so.

Good Things Still Come Out Of Nazareth

Nathanael answered him, [Nazareth!] Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip replied, Come and see!


John 1:47 [AMP]

I recently had an encounter with someone that made the first meeting between Jesus and Nathanael really come alive to me. I’ve come to see that what believers do a lot of times, especially after reading stories in the Scriptures, is to assume a position that makes us feel as if those stories can do so little in today’s world. Many times, we think that some stories are too old to be relevant in the 21st century.
I had left my little room off-campus last Saturday in school with a friend, Edwin, to visit another mutual friend. The funny thing about our journey was that we never asked for directions before starting off. We knew the general direction of our friend’s place and we just moved in that direction. Now, my campus is located in a village and moving about a village is really tasking, except, of course, if you’re familiar with the terrain. Getting around wasn’t difficult until we reached a point that we were both unfamiliar with. We saw someone and asked him for directions. The young man simply pointed forward and told us to move on. And we continued walking.
After agreeing that we were both lost, we decided to call our mutual friend. And as God may have it, his number wasn’t going through. Funny how God uses the seemingly bad situations to teach us. We decided to try another path, hoping to see someone knowledgeable enough to point us in the right direction. After walking for less than a minute, we met a young boy. And judging from his height, I adjudged him to be between 11-13. At this point, I withdrew and allowed Edwin talk.
The village is a predominantly Muslim one. You rarely see Christian locals where I stay. In fact, no single local church is close to where I reside. I would need to walk a considerably long distance to get to a local church. We do have fellowships, but these fellowships have their services in English and are student fellowships, not churches. Imagine my brief shock then when this young boy told us that his name was Samuel. I had to ask again for his name to be sure that I had heard correctly.
Coincidentally, Edwin had some flyers for Let’s-Go-A-Fishing which he was supposed to share. Let’s-Go-A-Fishing is a program organized by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). It is meant to plant new churches (parishes, in RCCG parlance). We were supposed to share the flyers to these locals. However, we were faced with one challenge: language barrier. It was impossible to share flyers with people who did not understand English. Samuel was sent from God, I had said to myself.
Samuel happened to know the exact place that we were going to. He became our guide. Edwin quickly seized the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with Samuel (that man can evangelize to anybody). I simply watched and listened attentively. Edwin switched to pidgin and initiated an interesting conversation. He had asked Samuel to read the flyer. Honestly, I had not expected him to be able to read the flyer, not as well as he read it. With a little help from Edwin, he read the flyer. I was honestly ashamed of myself. I had used the fact that the villagers were largely uneducated to assume that Samuel would not have been able to read. And he punched me in the face that Saturday with his reading ability.
He went on to tell us how that he had been stopped from going to church by his brothers. His parents resided in another village and his brothers in our village had stopped him from attending church services. Apparently, they weren’t believers. In that one moment, I saw the futility of some of my fellowship programs (not just mine, but other fellowships also). Beside me was a boy who wanted to go to church and couldn’t. I imagined other youngsters scattered through out the village, wanting to go to church, but unable to. And I had done nothing about it. I had never for one day even prayed for the salvation of a local.
You might have some folks around you who don’t look like they’ll ever amount to anything in life. Their lifestyle might look so dirty and corrupt. But that doesn’t mean that nothing good will ever result from their existence. We seize to be like Christ when we see people as they really are. When we constantly focus on their flaws and weaknesses, we become judges. Because people sin differently from us makes us no better than them. We need to see people as God sees them. That way we can love them the way He wants us to; we can live how He wants us to; we become His hands, His legs and His voice on Earth.
Guess what?! Edwin asked our friend to keep an eye on Samuel. We think we should get him a Bible and have him studying on his own (the thought is still a thought, we wouldn’t want to have him clash with his brothers). I’m excited about seeing him grow into a fine Christian man. I still have some time here. Maybe this time, I’ll be more like Jesus and less like Nathanael. Indeed, so many good things could come out of Nazareth. Unbeknownst to Nathanael, the best thing had come out of Nazareth. He simply had to open his eyes to see.
Open your eyes and see the best in people. God sees the best in them. You should, too.
God bless you.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2016

Don’t Ever Forget..

They forgot what he had done—

marvels he’d done right before their eyes.

They whined like spoiled children,

“Why can’t God give us a decent meal in this desert?

Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed,

creeks cascaded from the rock.

But how about some fresh-baked bread?

How about a nice cut of meat?”

Psalms 78:11,19-20 [MSG]


Why is this problem still here after this long? Why is my result not getting better? Why is there so much confusion in my life right now? After doing all that I was told to do, why is my case not any better?

Endless questions and no answers. That’s how life is for so many people. For many, God just chooses to be far and neglect us. He just likes to hear our cries and do nothing. He delights in the cries of His people!

There are days when the curses seem to outnumber the blessings, days when the sun burn our naked backs so bad that all we long for is some shelter from the burns, days when the pain seems so real that we wonder if we’ve ever had something other than pain. There are moments when we look at the hurt and wish that we had never been born. And we are tempted to be like Job and say, “Let the day perish wherein I was born.”

When days like these come, our brains find a way to tell us that whatever pain we face at the present time is all that we have ever faced in life. In times of sorrow over a lost spouse, the thought of a promotion at the office becomes like bitter kola in mouth of one accustomed to all the sweet things the mouth could enjoy. The thought of how financially buoyant you are won’t make you smile after your boo of seven years decides to leave you alone on the altar to share your vows with the priest officiating the ceremony, wishing you both a happy ever after by her act of betrayal.

Who remembers that the rains will eventually come, after a hot afternoon of being dealt with by the sun? How can one remember that the night never lasts forever when he has spent what seems like ages groping in the darkness, desperately looking for a torch to brighten the room a little? How can one remember that there have been good times when those dry, patches lips can’t bend a little to form a smile? Who remembers the songs that have made them dance and laugh in the past when their ears can’t hear anything, save for the thoughts of pain and sorrow that speak so loudly within?

In our state of sorrow or pain, we have the tendency to forget all that God has ever done. We have the tendency to see only what He hasn’t done.

Now, I don’t know how we manage to forget the good things that we’ve ever enjoyed. I think it’s simply because we’re humans. We somehow manage to forget the good times the very moment that the bad times come. Oh, if only we could hold on to those powerful memories and use them to fight off the feelings of worthlessness and depression!

God has done so much for you to look at that present situation or challenge and murmur or complain. When the days of uncertainty come, you must remember all the good times and thank Him for them. The good memories will be so difficult to summon, but you have so many wonderful memories to be depressed or thrown down by any seemingly impossible situation.

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 63:6-7 [NIV]

Oh, He’s been so good! Take time to focus on all that He’s done. Take your eyes off the problems and look unto the Lord. Look unto Him from whom your help comes.

You have so, so much to be grateful for.
©Eleazar Maduka, 2016