Is that not true?
Do we not have in Nigeria many brilliant minds that can bring in the Midas touch to governance and leadership and so lead the nation out of the woods? We do but there is a system on ground that ensures that such people do not come anywhere near political leadership and anyone who dares to may end up becoming a casualty of a pervert system. As someone said, we keep saying Christians should go into politics but those who have so gone have been harvested by the system they sought to change. Is this not true? The 'good ones' among us who have ventured into the murky terrain of Nigerian politics have had to compromise in one area and at one level or the other.
Is this a discussion about politics? Far from it; I only wish to draw our attention to the power of a system. Those familiar with computers know fully well what an operating system is. It is the platform on which all applications or end-user programs run. For any application to run well, the operating system must support it.
So rather than demonize the people and insist that they are the ones with a problem, why not work towards changing the system? Instead of trying so hard to get the people to cope with a system that is fundamentally designed to corrupt and pervert, why not put in place a system that makes it difficult - if not impossible - for the perverse to thrive?
Where am I going?
Because of this human need for some form of organisation of our activities of corporate devotion and fellowship, and our interfacing with the larger society, a myriad of “church”-centred activities and routines as well very complex structures to keep them going have, over the decades and centuries, evolved into a predictable pattern which runs quite well even when they are disconnected from the spirit and essence that originated them. This is the church system.
To start with, the “Church” in the church system has lost its original meaning of a body of believers to now mean a building where those activities are coordinated and carried out. Secondly, many of these activities and structures were copied from the world and were not a product of prophetic revelation or New Testament patterns. Furthermore, their underlying motive was never to promote Kingdom interests but the advancement of personal and denominational agenda.
Today, the church system has become the major face of Christianity globally and our only platform for corporate worship and spiritual/social fellowship. It is now a leading source of job creation; the livelihood of many families depends on it. It is a multi-billion dollar industry with huge investments in the education, media, entertainment and real estate sectors. And the centre of gravity of the entire system is our organised church services.
When a person accepts to follow Christ through the system, rather than being helped to experience and nurture a concrete relationship with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is immediately introduced to the church system and overtime grows to be more committed to the system than to the Lord who shed His blood.
Yet, we have continued to witness very disturbing incidents within Christendom and, of course, the individuals are always to be blamed: they are the ones with a problem; they allowed the devil; they were not dead to the flesh enough, they did not pray and fast enough - and so on. Scarcely will anybody dare point at the system and assert that it is not so much of the people but a systemic problem which requires a change in the operating system of church today.
The system has done it in such a way that you can never recognize the Body of Christ except through its own expressions called churches. What we call churches today, in any case, are actually religious organizations which are more or less the personal enterprise of the pastor. Yes, members of the body of Christ can be found in them but the church of Jesus is not a sorry mixture of sheep, goat and pig.
Even wonderful, sincere and God-fearing believers and Christian leaders with a genuine call of God to serve the Lord and His body have no choice but to resort to this system because that is what we have always known. Alas, they labour for so many years and decades, yet it is like all the rivers running into the sea, yet the sea is not full. It is like washing a garment repeatedly but it never gets clean. The problem is neither the leader nor the people; the problem is a pervert system that will at best keep the people of God as babes and ever learning but never coming into the experiential knowledge of the truth.
Some of those essential qualities of the Body of Christ - simplicity, transparency, genuine brotherhood, the priesthood of all believers, corporate ministry, the pre-eminence of Christ, absolute dependence on the leadership of the Holy Spirit without undue interference of man, the autonomous yet inter-dependent nature of the local communities (I can go on and on) - cannot just find expression in what we call church today.
Whereas, those key features by which church today is identified: exotic buildings, denominational tags, ecclesiastical titles and mannerisms, performance-driven ministry, a visible head/setman as the CEO (etc) are completely alien to the spirit and the essence of the Church of Jesus and the teachings of Christ.
The good news however is that the One who said, “I will build my church” has His own tamper-proof operating system inextricably interwoven with His message concerning the Kingdom of God. And today, there is an increasing global awareness for all of God's people to return to “Church the way God wants it.” As someone rightly said, “God started the church the way He wanted it; now He wants the church the way He started it.” May you, dear child of God, heed His call no matter the cost.
We welcome all questions, contributions and enquiries. You are invited to THE KINGDOM CONNECT, a monthly interactive non-denominational Kingdom forum where we explore the truths of the Kingdom of God and learn to express the life of Christ at No. 20, Osuntokun avenue, Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria - on the third Saturday of every month, 11am-4pm. GOD BLESS YOU.