When my dad knocked on my door this morning and said, ‘Deboro, devotion!’, I was completely disoriented. Considering that I only just slept at around 2am and even had to wake up somewhere in between to do something, 7am felt like an ungodly hour to do something as godly as devotion. But I dragged myself to the devotion venue and told myself, ‘Stay strong. Do little. Keep your eyes open. Sleep inside. You got this!’
I stayed steady drifting during the opening prayer.
My brain perked up a bit during praise and worship because it picked a bunch of unscriptural lyrics.
Then the word came… My dad picked up the popular Open Heavens and read out the entire content for today, and fam, I woke up to the fullest!
Today’s Open Heavens charge is titled ‘I Shall Not Be Poor!’ I remember hearing this and thinking, ‘Oh no… Please don’t be what I think you are.’ But it was.
The very first thing that caught my attention was this line: ‘One of the reasons why I hate poverty so much is because of what Proverbs 14:20 says about the poor: ‘The poor is hated even of his own neighbor, but the rich hath many friends’
Well, this is not a valid reason to hate poverty. We, as Christians, don’t want wealth in order to attract many friends, we use our wealth to do good things; we use our wealth to partner with the spread of the gospel; we use our wealth to assist fellow brethren – not to amass friends. In fact, if the writer of the Open Heavens read just one step further that scripture, verse 21 now says, ‘He who hates his neighbor sins against God and his fellow man, but happy, blessed and favored by God is he who is gracious and merciful to the poor’
So, the scripture quoted in support of the hating poverty was wrongly quoted because it was in fact, addressing how we treat the poor with contempt while doing eye-service to the wealthy.
The next thing that caught my attention in the devotional content was the story of Jabez. To be honest, when my dad asked if I had any contributions, I stated first that, ‘I wish I had studied on the story of Jabez and I understood it well, but I have a strong feeling that it isn’t what this devotion spoke about.’ The devotion basically said that Jabez was a poor man (I really really really doubt that), but that he prayed to God and ‘did not ask for a small blessing; rather he prayed that God should bless him indeed’. Well, if I will rebut, I must rebut with the scriptures and I haven’t studied on it. But I will do a study and come back…
The next and final thing that caught my attention was the ending part of the charge. I remember literally ranting non-stop for like 5 minutes when my dad opened the floor for me. Now, that final part talks about how if you want poverty to be a history for you, you must pray your way out of it. It ends by saying, ‘Therefore, give your life to Him without further delay today and poverty shall become history in your life in Jesus Name’
I sighed deeply when that was read. (By the way… totally unrelated but ‘sighing’ is not the same thing as ‘hissing’. Please, fellow Nigerians, take note.)
So, first of all, let’s start from the logical. Dangote, the richest man in Africa – is he a Christian? No. So what is this theory we postulate among ourselves?
Ask yourself, ‘If I take this exact same ‘gospel’ and preach it to Dangote, will he be like, ‘Wow! Now I see that I need Jesus’? Will he feel like he’s truly missing out on something by not being a Christian? It is my opinion that many of us Christians have made Jesus look useless to unbelievers.
The truth is objective, not subjective. There are no variations of what Christ has done. If the gospel you preach to Mr. A has to be customized to Miss B so that it’ll match her needs, then fam, that’s not the gospel. If the reason Jesus came was so that we can have wealth here on earth, then He didn’t need to come. For crying out loud, the heathens work and have wealth; it’s a basic principle – if you want to eat, you work.
Second, is it really true that ‘poverty’ will become a history in your life once you ‘give your life to Christ’? Well, let me be clear, God is concerned about your needs. He watches out for you and provides for you. He will make ways for you and grant you favor. He will give you wisdom and strength to know what to do. He will take care of you, yes. He is your Father and He loves you – this is the premise you must always start from. But we are in Christ, for Christ. Christianity is a religion of love not a quid pro quo agreement. We reverence and serve God because we love Him. We were initially slaves to sin and the devil, but now, because He purchased us with His own blood, we are slaves to righteousness; free in His love. We and God are not business partners. We are not telling God, ‘Yo! I’ll do you a solid and up your street cred by being in your gang, ok? What I need from you is just a steady supply of doe.’ It does not work that way. And like I’ve learned in life, if you do not define a relationship well, you’ll end up feeling cheated and angry. It’s why some people will get mad at God when they lose money or go broke. Brother, you have already gotten the best thing you can ever get – eternal life! And please you have to understand that this is more precious than money.
Finally, I want to address the method of preaching adopted. Yes, it is our duty to preach the gospel to nations. But what are you preaching? Please as we preach to people, let’s not use conceit, deception, flattery, error, trickery or any other devious mechanism. It’s simple – Jesus died for your sins and was raised so that you are clothed in righteousness. Without Him, we cannot access eternal life. This world isn’t the last stop for us; there is a life after this. And how you spend that life is dependent on what you do with Jesus’ offer today. Accept the love, sacrifice and life of Christ, and whether you are dead or alive when He comes, you will be with Him forever. This is far better than, “Give your life to Him without further delay today and poverty shall become history in your life in Jesus Name”
May God give us the wisdom to seek the truth, and the strength to stick to it.