Sometime ago at a
public forum, a well-respected acquaintance of mine made a rather
shocking disclosure: “I go to church with sieves.” For a long time, I
kept asking myself this question: What’s the point going to “the ground
and pillar of truth” with mental sieves?
guess it has prompted a few questions in your mind. Why will someone
want to be guided into error? How can someone muster the audacity to
suborn a well-meaning custodian of truth to deal in delusion? Aren’t
pastors in catbird seats, so how can they be malignly influenced to
become misleading yea-sayers? Is there a single ideal-typical form of
pastors? These are reasonable questions. If we can answer them, then
it will be clear why some people go to church with sieves to filter out
lies.I am aware that religion is increasingly becoming a hot-button subject
for public scrutiny. It seems as if writers inadvertently dig their
vocational grave when they turn their searchlight on religious issues.
This is so, even when they write from a pedestal of clinical detachment
and objectively present facts about issues. In this clime, we gloatingly
conflate issues and persons. Even when a writer makes the distinctions
crystal clear, we muddle them up.
God gave us Ten Commandments. It is my suspicion that Nigerians invented
the eleventh: “Thou shall not write about our religions.” Well,
there is a proviso to it: Thou shall only from a proselytising or
interest-protecting stance. Let me make it clear upfront. I will break
the eleventh commandment and canvass opinions that do not side with
The animating gospel of liars has come to stay. There are many reasons
for this. One, there are more lie seekers today, than before. Two,
religious lies meet some needs in our society. They are ostensibly
imbued with cure-all qualities. Also, they are a cheap way to live a
stress-free life. It’s one way many people find seeming wholeness in a
broken world. Three, it is now comparatively easier and cheaper to
invent, proliferate, propagate and perpetuate deceit than in past eons.
This fascination with the lairs’ gospel did not come as a thunderclap.
It took ages to brew. It did not take the spiritually farsighted by
surprise. In fact, everyone could have noticed it at its incipience. It
was foretold by Apostle Paul in very plain language: “For the time will
come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit
their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn
their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” It is an
active process; people create teachers that peddle their fancy notions
with a leaven of wit.
In this age of seeker-friendly church, there is a two-way avalanche of
subliminal persuasions. The pulpit persuades the pew and vice versa. In
some ways, this is good. However, if it sets the stage for the tyranny
of the popular or of the rich, pastor may receive Satan’s megaphone as
We are deceived by choice. We beg to be deceived. We can’t survive
without it. When life’s circumstances conspire to make us serial
defaulters facing possible ejection from our houses, who do we turn to?
Of course, pastor. What do we tell him by our eye-language? Something
close to this: Pastor, please, perform a miracle or lie to me. Tell me I
will experience the miracle of debt cancellation. Tell me I am next in
line for a twenty-four-hour miracle. I am dying to hear it. Say it,
pastor! Yes, I believe. I will sleep as a debt-ridden tenant in Karimu
and wake as landlord of a multi-billion naira property in Asokoro.
We cherish illusion. The prevailing socio-economic conditions of our
nation make the abundant life a seeming mirage. The only place we now
effortlessly bloom to fortune and fame is the never-never land. From
experience we know about its emptiness. Yet, we cannot stop those
fantasy-trips. They are thrilling. So we are preoccupied seeking those
who will affirm with divine authority that our illusions are lasting
realities. Our search leads us to the pastor’s haven.
We live in a get-rich-quick culture. We love wealth. But resent work. We
are desperate to wear the crown, but unwilling to bear the cross. We
long for gain without pain. Everything around keeps screaming: If you
can’t break a bank, bribe God. So we start sending “telepathic” messages
to pastor. I want Dangote to envy me. Please, organise who-
wants-to-be-a-billionaire meetings more frequently.
We live in a “now” generation. We want everything to happen now, now. We
want to meet Mr. Perfect and get married to him about the same time it
takes to prepare Indomie instant noodles. So we pressure Pastor to
organise a marriage programme. What could be better than the theme: “I
must marry this February.” Shortly after the programme, Olowo comes.
But he is a super-rich husband of three wives. God is at work. We rush
to Pastor. Pastor, please, tell me God has changed His mind. Tell me His
will is fickle. Tell me God will bless my decision to marry Olowo even
though I am his fourth wife. God understands. It is difficult to get a
We love to deny unpleasant realities. You are likely to say you don’t
belong to pastor-please-lie-to-me league though you still consider
pastor worth listening to after he taught you “you cannot sin since you
are born again.” Isn’t that when it started looking
not-so-morally-objectionable for you to rape your daughter, wash up, go
to church and have Holy Communion? Oh, you don’t belong. Agreed! It is
just that you can’t get rid of those religious palliatives on which your
alert ego survives.
It is almost foolproof that pastor is Satan’s mouthpiece if he stops
proclaiming truth and is always interpreting biblical footnotes. Be
careful, if he has formed the habit of using Greek lexicon to fierily
reinterpret (should I say misinterpret?) plain text in ways that do not
generate light, but emotional heats. Be careful, if he starts mystifying
knowledge. Run for your life, if pastor becomes the only man of God on
earth that hears heaven’s whispers, particularly, those that their
verity is extra-biblical.
Don’t tell me you are not in pastor-please-lie-to-me league when you are
about to start casting stones at me for violating the eleventh
commandment. I will survive the stones.
Written by Omozuwa Gabriel Osamwonyi