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Does the bible promote inequality in churches?

…and God said, “Go ye forth, milking dry the springs of prosperity from all peoples and nations. Take from the poor, prey on the sick, and manipulate the needy. In this manner, each may have jet planes, mansions, and shiny jewels according to the strength of his hustle and depth of his compromise…”

If you are a not a frequent reader of the bible, you might assume that there is such a scripture. Truth is, that is what many of the Christians leaders around the world consciously practice.

The Prosperity Gospel (originally known as Seed Faith) began as what could be considered a “grift” (scam) that took shape in the early to mid 50s through tent meetings that moved from town to town, and city to city, in a procession of eighteen wheeler trucks. It initially attached itself to the Pentecostal movement who were excited to hear about the advertised claims of miracles that would happen at these tent meetings – the precursors to the cleaner looking multimillion dollar “healing and miracle” events of today.

In the early 2000s, we witnessed a staggering increase of these men and women who are drawing millions of Christians around the world to believe that they are superior beings “ordained”, “highly spirit-led” men and women of God who deserve better than what their congregants have.

This teaching is adopted from the misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 9:14 and 1 Timothy 5:17 and has led many into despair and an increasing poverty in their homes. Yes the bible teaches that we need to honour our leaders, but the bible doesn’t say that “you should take all your money, and you will see what the Lord will do for you.”

During some of my engagements with many believers in the Christian faith, I always alert them that in order to understand any scripture in the bible, one needs to first insulate themselves with the Holy Spirit and also take heed of the context and settings thereof. When, where, who and to whom the message is said determines how it will be received and perceived.

One popular scripture used by church leaders in trying to justify their self-proclaimed superiority over congregants is Ephesians 4:11-12 where Apostle Paul writers “And he [Jesus Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints [us], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” The scripture is very clear and needs no effort to understand. It says that the church and society at large is given these five-fold ministries in order to empower us to become better people. Notice that the Paul says “for the perfecting of the saints” and “for the edifying of the body of Christ” which simply means they are tasked to perfect [empower] us and not us perfecting [empowering] them.

Let’s say you sell oranges on the street and each bag has 15 oranges. You then decide to take out 5 out of the bag and leave the rest 10 inside. The 5 oranges are used for display and advertising purposes to lure potential clients. When you have 5 oranges outside, does it mean they transform into mangoes? Do they change what they are now that they are outside the bag? No! It simply means that the 5 are given a much greater task than the 10. They are supposed to take care of the 10 in the bag. Hence Paul continued to say “For the perfecting of the saints [us not them], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:12 KJV).

So then, we now know that these folks are tasked to make sure that we lack nothing. But that has changed in our society. Sadly, pastors are regarded as the most important people in the church that the congregants themselves.

Early 2014 I heard from a close pastor of a con artist who was visiting a couple of local Pentecostal churches claiming to be a prophet of God sent to assist them with musical instruments. This man robbed pastors and even kidnapped one of them. I partly blame these “men of God” for not being able to “discern” the fella’s crooked ways. He used cajolery, deception, and manipulation to get what he wants from gullible church leaders.

What I’ve learned about humans is that most of us are so desperate for success to a point that we can do literally anything to attain it. Anything can go extreme. We are caught up in the “he/she has this and that. I also need to have it.” We never understand what people had to go through in order to become successful. We’re just looking for instant means to get rich. Be cautious of fraudsters posing as ministers and preachers of the word who deliberately prey on the insecurities of people by acting as though they know things that their followers cannot know.

In his brilliant song titled Royalty, Mali Music writes “Wolf in sheep’s clothing with a cross on his chest. Taking people’s money, and promising them to be blessed”

I want you to ask yourself: “Am I being obedient to God when I keep giving all my belongings to these ministers or am I deliberately ignorant?” If you buy your pastor a car ‘cause “God said so” when your neighbour slept with an empty stomach, then I have a problem with your God. Highly anointed people will use their anointing to make money in an earnest but not by guileful manner (emphasis added throughout).

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate Paul’s profound words in Galatians 6:6-10 that the “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” Therefore we are all equal and we all deserve the Mercedes Benz, private jets, and special treatment as the bible teaches in Romans 12:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12 about the body of Christ.

Thabang Phala

Thabang Phala is an award-winning development practitioner, business consultant, brand strategist, facilitator and thought leader with industry experience spanning over 11 years.

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