By Sylvester Kwentua

Religion focuses the attention of mankind on life after death rather than life while on earth. It has brought about the development, mainly physically and financially, of spiritual leaders at the expense of their members. Members are made to obey, listen to, seek after, worship, look forward to, long after, fear and follow a God that they have neither seen nor experienced themselves. They have to rely on the interpretation and narrations of religious leaders who continually create stories of how God in Heaven discussed, visited, eat with, talked to and made Himself known to them – even though the bible clearly states that “none have seen God above all have here man to love.” Christians are the most gullible in this category. Though they clearly see how their money is making the religious leaders wealthy, they continue to feel that they are making a God whom they have never seen, heard from or know, happy – because the leaders tell them so!

Unfortunately, in Nigeria this is the order of the day. Majority are seeking to know and please God. They want to make heaven as narrated by these religious leaders. It is only these religious leaders who know how this can be achieved. They in turn follow the footsteps of other religious leaders who from time immemorable wrote down directions and guidelines for their members to adhere to.

All religious books were written by man reflecting his perspective or understanding of God. The bible for instance is clearly a compilation of 66 books by various religious authors over a specified period. Many other religious books were written around the same time with the authors also claiming they were written under the inspiration of God. But these books were ignored. Each writer wrote what he liked, claiming God's direction. Each of them told us that God told them to write what he wrote. Many believed these writers, concluding that they were inspired from the same source and the same person – God, even though in many cases their writings contradict each other.

For instance in the bible while James states Christians should not eat meat sacrificed to idols Paul states you can eat anything as there is no such thing as an idol. The numerous contradictions aside, many still believe that the same person has authored these writings and has ordered their compilation together for the rest of us to follow!

Back in Nigeria the contradictions continue. Numerous Christian leaders, especially those of the born-again genre have emerged with contradictory messages based on the same book or compilation of books (The bible.) Funny enough many, despite the obvious contradictions, agree that they were inspired from the same source.

Thus, Reverend Kumuyi told us that God does not want us to watch television. Later he changed his mind and said we could watch it. Arch-Bishop Idahosa on his part told us that His God is not a poor God. He lived big before our eyes and told us that his wealth reflects who his God is. Reverend Chris Okotie gave us a reflection of the funky side of God. He continues to use jerry curls after becoming a born-again Pastor and sings a mixture of gospels and pop songs. He also has a strong penchant for beautiful women. (This is one area I would like God to approve of!) Under his leading from God he has just broken up the third marriage. There are rumours that the fourth is on the way. All of such women were or are members of his church, one after the other. There is no doubt the God of this Pastor must be a sexy God!

More Christian leaders emerged with their own understandings and leadings from God. And we have embraced them hook line and sinker. Pastor Adeboye told us that God is a Daddy who loves continuous praise. Dr Olukoya, a University of Lagos student cum lecturer on his part informed us that God likes solemn gatherings. He loves old gospel songs that people hardly understand. For this scientist His God wants us to engage in constant warfare, He does not like people dressing gorgeously (especially women, whom He (Dr Olukoya's God or God according to Dr Olukoya) does not want to see wearing trousers because they were originally for men. (I wonder who shirts were originally meant for? but we have both male and females wearing them today. Even in Dr Olukoya's religious organisation.) Before, God, according to Olukoya, did not want personal pictures put on banners and handbills promoting his name but He (whether God or Olukoya or are both of them one and the same like Jesus and God is one and the same?- The man Olukoya has been acting like God of recent!) later changed his mind as well. Today pictures of Daddy and Mummy G.O (I particularly like mummy G.O's hat and posture) can be seen everywhere the name of the Lord is mentioned in MFM!

One may go on with these illustrations…Rev Tunde Joda says God wants you to give each other a hug and good kiss. Oyakhilome said that brothers and sisters can go a step further. Okotie said God has chosen him to be President then all of a sudden Pastor Tunde Bakare comes along and states He is vying for Vice President under Buhari and in future anything may happen. As for Oyedepo, His God is only interested in members that are millionaires. Praise the Lord somebody. No wonder the private jets!

TB Joshua, though claiming to be a Christian Pastor on his part said his God embraces Christianity, Islam and Paganism. The other religious leaders said he is too greedy and are angry he is trying to control a bigger territory. They denounced and denied him. But he has his followers all the same. It is a matter of the kettle calling the pot black. The beat goes on!

So today we have as many doctrines as as many preachers and if I am to be frank, as many Gods (if we are to go by their contradicting doctrines!)

No wonder we hear of people calling on the God of Adeboye, The God of Olukoya. Well, I have chosen to call upon and follow the God of myself. I cannot be jumping from one person' to another to learn about what his God told him. Really it should just be the God that lives in Adeboye, the God that live in Olukoya is the God that lives in me.

Contradictory leaders, contradicting doctrines and in most cases contraband members (they continually exchange and steal members from one another) but the same God….hmm, what a contradiction!

These religious leaders have misled the hearts and minds of Nigerians for years. We have paid more to them in tithes and offerings than we have paid to the government in tax. They have built stadium like worship centres, fee – charging/profit-making schools, universities, hospitals, bookshops, tapes and video producing outfits – all for profit. Some have even constructed massive estates asking members and branches to buy land and arise and build. There is nothing such as charity in Nigeria. She does not exist. (By the way I am talking about the virtue and not sister Charity! She is alive and a very prominent member of any successful gospel church!)

In Nigeria today individuals pay money to these leaders. Corporate bodies/companies who make a profit from us do the same. The government is ignored. Politicians are neither obeyed or respected and it in their best interest to make religious leaders their Godfathers. The simple reason why Nigeria is not working is because majority of the citizens – Christians, Muslims and Pagans alike, give all of their money, wealth and dedication to religious leaders hoping to secure a place in heaven when they die!

For Christianity the tagline is 'give your life to Jesus' but in reality many have given their life and destiny to Adeboye, Olukoya, Kumuyi and the ministries that they have set up. Some, even at the expense of their husbands, wives or marriage!

Religion is what is killing Nigeria. None of the religious leaders patronise the government for halls or the use of Governmental facilities. Every religious body wants to have its own exclusive land, own building, own fleet of buses, own worship centre, own prayer stadium/city, own hospital, own private jet and own whatever, whatever….all in the name of God. How useful are all of these junk structures to the populace. In most cases they are empty when there is no service. In UK we can count the number of supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsburys springing up on daily basis. In Nigeria all there is to count are the number church branches. They have used the money gotten from members to buy up all the available useful space in the country. When Jesus returns I wonder which of these buildings he is going to put up in or use? But they claim he directed them to build them after all! And we wonder why the UK does not embrace Godliness? Do you want these preachers to come and take money from their citizens and amass wealth for themselves in these countries as well?

Religious leaders not the Government rule and control Nigerians. As mentioned elsewhere it is only these leaders that can get Nigerians trooping out en masse, taking days and hours to gather under inhumane conditions just for a 45 minute coded message. There in the UK the government plays the role of mediating between the people and God. They collect taxes and use the money for what is beneficial to the people. The tithes and offerings here are paid in form of taxes to the government. The government builds facilities and structures for all to use. The poor, the needy, the single parents, and the disabled etc are all catered for. These Europeans introduced religion to us but are no longer religious since they have realised its adverse effects. They no longer preach but practise the bible!

What do the leaders – religious leaders, do with the money they get. Anything that catches their fancy as long as it is done in the name of the Lord. Nigerians do not challenge their religious leaders because they are afraid of the God they (the religious leaders) talk about. However, political leaders are cursed daily with the religious leaders shouting the loudest! In UK it is God save the Queen…In Nigeria it is God punish the President! Many even rejoice and thank God when a political leader dies attributing it to God's judgement while in the case of a religious leader they say God took him home. But they still want good roads, hospitals and electricity – go and meet the church leaders who you gave all your money!

If Nigeria will change then this idea of serving and pleasing God through the will and dictates of another man has got to change. The bible says Jesus became poor that we might become rich. Today the G.O's and pastors are becoming rich so that the people may become poor! Many have acquired wealth and financial prosperity only to hand it over to their religious leaders with the hope that they will give it to God, while the original owner goes broke. Celicia Ibru went to jail but majority of the money she took was invested in Christian religious organisations. The other day a Man of God said that he would not return a generator. The person who donated the generator claimed he purchased it from money he stole from the company he worked for. The Man of God said though he acknowledges that the man donated the generator he could not return it because it was now with and belongs to God! Come on, are you guys telling me that God is so greedy he cannot return and forsake stolen property or sympathise with a woman who has given all her wealth to make his ministers happy.

They tell us daily that they see and talk with God or Jesus. Many members follow suit and copy their lies. It reminds me of the story of the king that was Unclad but was told by his courtiers he was decked in the most gorgeous dress that existed. Everybody caught the gist and bowed to the king as he paraded the streets Unclad, in admiration of his make belief robe!

Nigerians have been stripped Unclad and Molested by their religious leaders. They are cajoled into believing they can tithe their way into heaven. Meanwhile, this heaven remains a place in the clouds that the physical body cannot attain to. No wonder the religious leaders who teach about heaven compete with us to buy land, cars and acquire all forms of wealth, building their own heaven here on earth even though they tell us to prepare for the one in the sky!

Talking about heaven, the teachings of Jesus, the role model of Christianity when read carefully sees things differently. Jesus said in my Father's house there are many mansions there. But Jesus also told us that He and the Father are one. He said that when we see Him we have seen the Father. He also told us that he was a great temple and that we are his body and his temple as well. In other words Jesus lives in us as God lives in Him. It means both God and Jesus live in us. If God and Jesus live in heaven and they live in us as well it means their presence in us makes us heaven. Jesus died but rose again in Peter, John and the disciples who went about doing what Jesus did. The scribes and the Pharisees were surprised that even though they had killed Jesus his disciples were now like Jesus going about doing what He did. They were no longer seeing the disciples; they were seeing Jesus in His disciples. No wonder Paul said I die yet I live but not I but Christ who lives through me.

For a dead person's spirit to rise in a person that is alive is a phenomenon recognised throughout the world irrespective of religion or race. The Yorubas would name a new born male child 'Babatunde,' acknowledging the fact that the spirit of the departed father had resurfaced in the son.

Christ died but rose again and was seen living in and through his disciples. He goes on living in and through us. But he lives in heaven. This means we are His heaven. His presence in us makes us heaven. That is why we are called Christians. 'Christ's', 'little Christ's' or people who Christ dwells within.

We are one body in Christ because we all have the person and spirit of Christ dwelling within us. With time our personality dies and the personality of Christ takes over. This happens when we become filled with the fruit of the spirit as explained in Galatians 5:222-23. At that point we all become one person. The same personality. Christ on earth.

Spirits move from one body to another with time. Children take after their fathers. Wives and husbands with time look alike. Even servants develop the habits, nature and traits of their masters!

When you die as a Christian the spirit departs and goes to heaven. Since heaven is where Jesus lives and he lives and dwells in his body the church we depart to live in another Christian on earth. It is as simple as that.

There are many mansions or houses in my fathers house means there are many people inside my body the church. Each person is like a house that can be lived in – a mansion. When you die the new body you will live in on Earth will depend on how well you lived your Christian life. A poor Christian who dies and rises again to live in a person like Benny Hinn or Pastor Adegboye will enjoy as one living in heaven because these people live a prosperous life on earth.

It is the same for all religions. Buddhists talk about Reincarnation. This is why some claim to have lived before. It is not the person that is speaking that lived before but rather a person that lived before that is living inside of him. Just as Christ who has lived before lives on now inside of we Christians. Muslims die and rise again in a Muslim person, Hindus die and rise again in a Hindu believer. They cannot rise to live in a Christian, who is part of the body of Christ. You die and rise in the body of a person that belongs to the body you belong to: Body of Christ - Christians, Body of Mohammed - Islam etc. If you rise and live in a person who is enjoying you are in heaven. If you live on in a body that is suffering you are in hell.

Within bodies there are sub-bodies. Adegboye has his own body of followers within the body of Christ: Oyedepo has his own, so does Oyakhilome etc. With time the closest of their followers are changed to be like them. But we are all supposed to be changed to be like Christ!

This is the simple secret they are all making money out of and have kept away from their members. Meanwhile, they all compete with each other for followers – for those who will form part of their body. They feed the minds of their members with information that misleads them from the truth and hold them in bondage with doctrines, rules and commandments. They instruct them to be obedient, just to ensure they identify with and remain as part of their body. It is the head that controls the body even in a single body, yet alone one made up of many members!

The Nigerian religious leaders that know these facts (both Muslims and Christian leaders etc) have shared the members/citizens in fact the nation amongst themselves. Like the Strongman Jesus spoke about in the bible they hold members in bondage with falsehood and refuse to let them understand the truth but Jesus said: 'you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.'

My fellow Nigerians are we going to remain in bondage to religion and religious leaders or are we going set ourselves free and repair our ignored, down-trodden country. Rather than travelling around the world looking for a better place to live and rest our weary heads should we not resolve to make Nigeria work. Nigerians are among the most travelled, nay restless people in the world!

It is not the politicians that are Nigerian leaders. They do not even have the commitment of Nigerians. It is these religious leaders who are in-charge, telling us all that we need to hand over money to God, with them serving as His tax-collector. Then it turns it out overnight they all of a sudden become rich. Did God forget to take the money from them or did they fail to deliver it?

Pastor Tope Joshua of the Synagogue church of all nations, must be a very sad man at the moment but without trying to sound so critical, i wish to say i never really trusted his spiritual leadership. Sometime last month, i was in a vehicle going to Ikotun and along the way, i passed by his church and was shocked to the bone to find out that people are forced to queue for as long as four hours, before being allowed into the church, to worship!

Is this God's idea of worship? your guess is as good as mine

To all the innocent souls who perished in the collapsed building in the synagogue church of all nations, i say rest in peace

Written by Sylvester Kwentua.

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