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By M. U. Adikwu

Introduction
Who is a stranger? It is person we have not seen before or a person we do not know. We might have seen him before but we are not familiar with him. That is a simple definition of a stranger from a layman’s angle like myself. In many parts of the world, strangers are well respected. In French, for instance, greetings to a stranger are so polite that the plural for you, “vous,” is used instead of the singular for you, “tu.” In the same manner, we should respect God because we have not seen him. I do not know if there is a common sight of God. You may see Jesus with your eyes, but it is not common to see God, the Father. If you do, it is not a common phenomenon for most of us Christians. That is why we must learn to be very cautious during fellowships and church gatherings. For many of us, we are too conversant with God that we are careless in fellowships and church gatherings. That has lead to many people dying before their time, like the children of Eli, the high priest. Learn to fear God the way we fear strangers we have never seen. Not only fear but fear with respect.

Healing of Ten Lepers

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.    As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?   Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).

This story shows that strangers are better at worshipping God than the purported children of the kingdom. For Israelites, Samaritans are said to be demonic. Look at what they said of Jesus:

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a
Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
(John 8:48).

In other words they are not capable of knowing God. The so called children of the kingdom are used to the things of God. To them they have been seeing miracles done among them. In fact, they were born into miracles. And so many Christians today follow this destructive direction. They may have one or two gifts that make them think they are at home with God. As such they preach carelessly without evening thinking God is watching. They speak slangs during prayers.
“We “wonno” pray now,” they would say. At a point they even do not remember God as if they are the owner of the gifts they possess.Some turn their gifts into money-making venture. They can label their churches healing homes or miracle centres or solution centres. They name is not the problem but the amount of money they will tell
people to pay will indicate that they are into serious money business. They forget what Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.”

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

That brings me to the next aspect of this tract.

Money as a God

In many orthodox churches, clapping of hand was anathema. Singing of modern day hymns was forbidden. These rules or laws are now being relaxed. Similarly, they cannot listen to a preacher who was not ordained by the order of the church. This attitude is because of they believe that Jesus is staying in the church and as such there should be no noise. When it is time for thanksgiving or bazaar these rules are jettisoned. Songs can be raised to any level. Women can dance their vulgar dances with the pastors or priests even shaking their heads to the lyrics of the music. A member of the church who is not a clergy then can preach for hours (if he has the words to last for such long period of time) and he will be allowed. All these happen because money is about being realized. Actually, we have made god out of money. Important people are given special attention when they come to church while others are not noticed. Assuming a
governor of state or his representative comes in, he is given special attention. Some are ready to break the order of service to introduce such big men before the service can continue. While the awesomeness with which they think of God is worthy of emulation, their attitude that changes during money yielding events is condemnable.

Remember Eli’s Children
 And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.   At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end.    For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.  Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering’’ (1 Samuel 3:11 14).
“So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.    The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died” (1 Samuel 4:10, 11).

The children of Eli became too familiar with the things of God. They grew up knowing that the children of Israel would bring tithes. They grew up knowing that their father would sacrifice these animals. They became too familiar that they never took the things of God serious. Of course, it led to their death. Things of God cannot be treated with levity. Sin must be seen as sin. When I was a child, I saw were sacrifice was made to juju severally.
No man dare taste the food for idols until the sacrifice was finished; that is when the incantation has been finished, no matter how hungry you are. If any occult man is given a law to keep he does not joke with it. It is only in Christianity that we do not respect our God.
Remember that John the Baptist, the son of Zachariah, was also son of a high priest. Thank God that he moved from his father’s house to the wilderness. No wonder when it was time for God to use him, there was not any hindrance. Remember, not too many people can see such abundant meat in his father’s house and abandon that to go and live in the wilderness.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness” (Luke 3: 1-2).
That is how it is for the man that God uses. There were governors, councilors and even high priests, yet the word of God went to John in the wilderness. It does not matter where you are. The word of God will come to you. What will make the word of God not to come to a man is sin. The governors, the high priests and all the hierarchies of men could not hear God. That is the problem of many people and churches today. They think that they are the only ones that God can speak to. That was what finished Josiah in Jabesgilead. Emperor Necho of Egypt had told him that God sent him to fight another nation. As far as Josiah was concerned he was not among the elected nation of Israel and as such he was not capable of hearing God. He wanted to fight Necho instead probably to prove if God had spoken to him. He ended up being killed.

“While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo” (2 kings 23:29).

God can speak and use any man from any nation. The qualification for this is to have a right standing with God. Job was not an Israelite. Ruth was a Moabite; a nation God had said they should never be counted among the congregation of the Lord. In fact, even if you are not in right standing with Him, He can still use you to achieve His purpose. It depends on what He wants to do.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’   From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do” (Isaiah 46: 9-11).

God is God and He will do what pleases Him. Birds of prey are unclean and represent sinners. He can use them to do what pleases Him. Do not be proud of your race, colour or religion. God can choose anyone to do His will.

Don’t Allow Christian Activities to Become a Custom

Don’t all your Christian activities to become a custom such that it becomes routine. Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover (Luke 2:41).

That is the case with many Christians. Their going to church has become so routine that they no longer attach any importance to it. For them church just marks the end of one week and the beginning of another. So also, are the Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter and other allied celebrations. They could mark in their calendar when these festivals could be because there is a journey to make after that. There is no serious spirituality attached to it.

And for our “great men of God” be very cautious. Many preach one thing and do the opposite. Do not become too familiar with the things of God. There are some who preach and yet have many soldiers and/or police guiding them. Practice what you preach. Some of the problems in the society lies squarely on our heads. The Bible says, “If my people that are called by my name humble themselves, and pray seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins
and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 14:7). Who are those called by the name of God? They are the Christians. That is why you cannot blame any politician. Blame yourselves!


Conclusion

God is awesome and our worship of Him must be with fear and trepidation.
Do not be too familiar with God no matter how anointed you are. It is actually pride that makes people think that they can behave carelessly in the place of worship. It could bring damnation unto them. Remember Eli’s children. That was what caused their death

Adikwu writes from Abuja, and can be reached through 08034378988; or emailadikwum@yahoo.com

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