THE CHURCH AND THE STATE! GOD AND CEASER
Church is primarily a bastion of safety where believers seek spiritual solutions to their problems. Many governments in civilized worlds grant church immunity because they see it as complimenting government efforts at fostering peaceful coexistence among her citizens. It is generally believed that the concerted effort of the church in the community leads to responsible citizenry.
As for State, research obtained from www.ehow.com revealed that, "The most basic duty of a government is to protect its people. The government protects citizens from each other by organizing police to enforce the law. It also protects by defending the country from outside forces. For this purpose, most governments are in charge of creating and commanding a military that can repel invasions or even fight for the country’s interests abroad."
From these definitions we are able to see that 'people', particularly their growth, protection, wellbeing, welfare, peaceful coexistence, etc forms the interface of The Church and The State. Consequently therefore, the nonperformance of one of the institutions will make the people suffer. This is the reason why the church cannot be neutral when the people suffer. Jesus is the head of the church and the gate of hell can not prevail. (Matthew 16:18) On the other hand men are the heads of denominations so gate of hell is prevailing big time, hence the existence of divisions and unnecessary rivalry among many denominations. The competition against each other is alarming. Virtually all dominations are wont to boast of the largest congregation, the richest pastor, the church with the greatest number of airplanes and helicopters, largest programs, etc. We all forget that vanity of vanities, all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 12:8)
When we discuss politics we must separate the voice of The Church (Jesus Christ) from the voices of leaders of denominations (bishops, general overseers, general superintendents, etc) The voice of Jesus connects distinctly with his sheep (by the Holy Spirit), they hear him and follow him without controversy. The voice of The True Church is the voice of God. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
However when heads of denominations speak, sometimes controversy ensues. This is because being mere mortals their opinions are sometimes garnished with their personal feelings and sentiments. More often some denominational leaders forget that the same bible they read is the same bible their followers read and the same Holy Spirit of truth gives godly interpretations to all, in truthfulness and integrity.
I caught a very powerful revelation about Jesus's admonition to the Pharisees to give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. "And Jesus answered and said to them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” (Mark 12:17) Interpretation of give unto Caesar?
Perform your secular obligations even as you honor God. As you nourish your physical body, do not forget to nourish your spirit man. As you are gainfully employed in the secular world, do not neglect serving your Creator. As you clothe yourself in designer outfits, do not forget the garment of righteousness, which is the garment of saints. Christ's admonition to give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar brings convergence to the wholeness of man as a creation in trinity.
These revelations tally with the personality of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to serve and not to be served. It is not beyond Christ to save the world without coming to the earth to die. In giving to Caesar what belong to Caesar, he came to the world. He was persecuted, betrayed and crucified. On the third day, God received from him (Jesus) in resurrection what belonged to Him (God).
It is too late for the Nigerian church to claim neutrality in Nigeria politics when hobnobbing of some denominational leaders with government in power has been a constant feature of our daily political life. The statement that a church does not endorse is very absurd. It is therefore a matter of poignant regret when a church carries her neutrality to the point of shying away from publicly endorsing her own. Refusal to endorse change in a political election can be interpreted to mean endorsement of the status quo.
If anything, the status quo is deplorable in the face of Boko Haram terrorism. Nigeria has never had it so bad. I agree that the church should not turn the pulpit to a soap box of political partisanship. However the church should not shy away from teaching and guiding the people about the choices they make when it comes to separating evil from righteousness.
There is a serious leadership epidemic afflicting the evangelical church all over the world. It is the disease of absolute power. Absolute power without internal control and accountability have for long intimidated some evangelical congregations to the extent that leadership of such evangelical congregations continue to take full advantage of the latter's vulnerability.
It is so bad that many times these congregations are not expected to think and when the Holy Spirit stirs up godly thoughts in them, fear of being labelled rebellious make them shut their mouths. Consequently many cowardly people are fearfully stringed together with other sinners chorusing hallelujah to hell. (Revelation 21:80).
In many instances some Christian leaders have found it convenient to manipulate the scripture of 1 Corinthian 1:27 that says, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty". Our misapplication of this scripture create the impression that God has created the wise for the amusement of the fool. This is not so. If anything this scripture is calling the arrogant and the prideful to behave because God does not reason the way man reasons.
The interface of church and state in Nigeria is disturbing in many instances. The bible makes it clear that the eyes of the Lord are too holy to behold iniquity. When looters and highly corrupt politicians are able to share space and moments with impunity with perceived men of God, there is something seriously wrong.
The bible makes it clear that righteousness has nothing to do with unrighteousness. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with wickedness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" (2 Corinthians:14-15).
I wish the present day church is as powerful as in the days of Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 5:1-11). Many corrupt politicians would have been consumed by fire for daring to approach an altar of God to receive prayers of protection. Unfortunately these are not the days of Elijah. The good news however is that the days of the Lord are on hand, Selah, amen.
Political correctness is a lame duck excuse to deceive the people. Political correctness is still politics. The simple analogy is that whoever wins a rat race is still a rat nay a chief rat. So much so for cronies who seek position and power in the Kingdom by turning blind eyes to the truth of the gospel. Man may appoint but God is He who ordains. "For exaltation comes neither from the east Nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another. (Psalms 75:6-7).
It has also been postulated in some quarters that all politicians are liars. They may all even be rogues. What is certain is that at clutch time, one or two of them may be empowered to enter the purpose of God for Nigeria, just as the thief on the right hand side of Christ made it at clutch time. Hallelujah, amen.
For now, I will leave you my Face Book Family with the blessings of Isaiah 35:4-6."Say to those who are fearful-hearted, Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert."
EPILOGUE (2 Chronicles 7:14-16) "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, (NIGERIA) that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually."
Dr. Niran Fafowora