Sunday, 16 June 2019

OPINION: Christianity and the Nigeria People —By Inyali Peter

16 June 2019 

Many people think that what qualifies them to be Christian is juat by going to church every Sunday or simply not being a Muslim. 

They are many people who don't even believe in the teachings of Christ talk of more of living Christ-like life yet when it comes to discussing religion, they claim Christianity just to show their resentment against other religions.

Yes, we're all living by his (God) grace. However, despite several bible verses instructing us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, even among those who go to church and claim to be Christians, there's so much hatred, favouritism and discrimination amongst them.

In the book of Mark 12:31 the bible instructed that "Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these". In our churches today or even among the Christian fold, how much do we love ourselves? 

This bible portion was a direct commandant from God himself. When God made this commandant, he wasn't oblivious of the fact that there would be another religion known as Islam. He knows the beginning from the end so he knew that Islam would exist yet he delibrately asked that we should love all our neighbours- Christians, Muslims and traditionalists etc.

It's very painful that today, church goers who have misconception of the teachings of Christ don't see Muslims around them as their brothers but rivals. In Philippians 2:3-4, the bible says "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others".

When it comes to religion, people become unnecessary emotional and sentimental such that it becomes even too difficult for them to hide their hatred for people from other faith. How can you claim to be a Christian yet disobey the greatest commandment of God which is to love? Why do we hate ourselves so much yet pretend to be Christ-like (Christians)?

In Romans 10:12, the scripture says, there's no difference between the Jews and Gentiles. Why can't we see people in other faith as brothers and sisters? What have we benefited as a people by hating Muslims or those who don't attend our churches? 

The bible posited in the book of 1 John 3:15-16 that "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer"...If this bible scripture is anything to go by, the hatred I see people especially the young express on social media against each other on daily basis because of religion has made everybody guilty of the crime of murder before God.

Some acclaimed Christians like justifying their actions by blaming the Muslims. Even if that's the case, can't we act differently for them to see and be converted by our actions? Should we be paying evil for evil? How do we claim to be better but hate them because they hate us or show them resentment because they show us?

In 1 John 2:11, the bible says "But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them". We can't claim to be in the light and others in the darkness when we're doing the same thing. 

I'm being particular about those who said they're Christians because they dominate by social media platforms.

Despite God's teachings against discrimination and favouritism, even among the so called Christians, these things hold sway. The highest level of discrimination and favouritism exist in the church. In Nigeria, it's seen as a sin for members of some churches to inter-marry yet we have left our own internal problems to promoting rivalry between the two dominant religions in the country.

Every proposal or policy from leaders who are Muslims, even with the puriest intensions are condemned by Christians even before implementation yet the scripture in James 2:1 warned us that "do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ".

Today, Nigeria is sharply divided along religious and ethnic lines and I've continued to ask what we have benefited as a people from religion. How has religion contributed to the socioeconomic development of this geographical construct called Nigeria? 

When it comes to corruption and stealing of public assets and properties, we're united but when it comes to implementing ideas to move the country forward, we begin to whip in religious sentiments and fanaticism.

Nigeria has the highest number of churches in the world with the richest Pastors in the world. We pray more than any nation of the world yet our problems remains the biggest in the world.

While people in other nations are discussing ideas, opening factories, industries to curb unemployment, Nigerians are opening the biggest churches in the world and then standing in the altars to decry the unemployment rate in the country.

Until we tell ourselves the truth that religion has divided us more and caused us more pains than gains, we will continue to remain backward praying when we're supposed to be working and brainstorming, hating when we're supposed to be loving, fighting when we're supposed to be helping each other grow, opening gigantic churches when we should be opening industries and factories, holding seminars, workshops to encourage entrepreneurship instead of preaching hatred in altars and Mosques, Nigeria will continue to remain the world's poverty capital.

Religion even in the bible is a private thing and must remain like that so that people can see beyond their sentiments to come together to build a country that we all desire to have.

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