In Corinth, there arose factions within the Christian fold with some claiming to be of Paul while other of Apollos. Paul had visited Corinth and evangelized the gospel, Apollos had also done the same. They both had their converts whom they nurtured according to their understanding of Christ.
This different orientation about the gospel and Christ was the cause of the division. Paul had to write to the Corinthians admonishing them to see beyond the division and focus on what really matters, which is the gospel and the kingdom of God.
It is unfortunate that thousands of years after Paul wrote to clarify that Apollos is his fellow labourer in the Kingdom of God division persists in the vineyard. It saddens my heart that Christianity in Nigeria has been watered down to association with diverse principles. Yet this division adds no value to the kingdom.
Do we have to go too far for instances? That won’t be necessary. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is a perfect example. No doubts, the founding fathers of the association established the umbrella body to unite the body of Christ in Nigeria. Do the crop of leaders in CAN lived up to expectation of the founding fathers?
Personally I concluded that the division, disunity and tribal preferences that plagued Nigeria stemmed from the love lost within the Christian fold. Our light as Christians in this country that is expected to shine love, peace, understanding and trust, only illuminate otherwise. The various blocs in CAN are polarised based on the interest of each bloc.
Instead of us seeing brothers and sisters, we see Catholics, Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostals Celestial, C&S. This identity is what waters our current insecurity challenge. Segregation has beclouded our sense of purpose. The church is bedeviled so is Nigeria, and Christians are the culprits.
The animosity in the Christian fold today is least dangerous. I have observed and concluded that Christians are part of the problems Nigeria faces today. In the social space, Nigeria is bedeviled by corruption, nepotism, ethnic jingoism and other social vices that have come to be accepted as the norms.
These norms eat deep into our sense of humanity. Today in Nigeria where is the love. A Yoruba finds it difficult to trust his Ibo brother, an Hausa is suspicious of the Tiv, and it goes on.
While I ponder on this daily, I am moved to wonder if we have shined our light in this area enough for the world to the marvelous plan of God for humanity.
In 2012, I visited a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who is a devoted Catholic. During the conversation he mentioned that he would rather deal with a non Christian than to do business with a Pentecostalist. In his opinion, they are untruthful, dubious and desperate about making money. I know if he had the idea that am not a Catholic he wouldn’t be uncouth in his comment.
Learned as he is, he is not alone in this, the mistrust is mutual. Segregation and sectionalism has become synonymous with Christendom. Catholics, Anglican Methodist, Pentecostals all have issues with one another. Each of us has a reason why the other is not serving God to the biblical standards. Interestingly, we backup our claims and argument with bible references.
How unfortunate it is that we are carried away by frivolities while the gospel is neglected. We busy ourselves tending the symptoms while the sickness spreads.
Apostle Paul said it all, if we as Christians live our lives as if we are unbelievers, how do we win the unbelievers into the fold? Gal. 2:14. In today’s Nigeria where ethnicity, tribalism and nepotism reign supreme, our light is expected to shine. Telling the world Segregation, unnecessary preference is unhealthy if truly we are concerned about the Great Commission.
Do we spread the gospel to unbelievers for Christ’s sake, or we canvas for members to swell the congregation? What are our perceptions about other Christians who are members of other denominations? We must not allow the devil sow the seed of discord, disunity amongst us.
It is never too late to retrace our steps back to the basics of what the Kingdom of God is about.