A SERIES of stories on horrible abuses of church congregants by their supposed shepherds in different parts of the globe has brought the name of God and Christianity into disrepute.
The unconverted are having a field day ridiculing Christians. They are even concluding that, in the face of such indisputable evidence, it is better not to go to church at all. Others are levelling the blame squarely on the men of the cloth who, instead of protecting the sheep, have turned into wolves that pounce on the unsuspecting sheep under their care.
While I totally agree that such obnoxious and objectionable behaviours of church leaders have tarnished the image of the church and the name of God and that this inconsistent character of shepherds has and is limiting the role of the church in society, I am also of the opinion that church congregants are equally to blame for such levels of gullibility.
Coming from the premise that self-preservation is the first law of natural life and that being wise as serpents is one of Jesus’ classical admonition to the sheep in the middle of wolves, some levels of proneness of congregants to abuse by their leaders need to be examined and justified. Apart from excusing new believers in the Lord, I believe that a spiritually healthy church should be able to discern the slightest departure of the preacher from God’s standards of holiness and spiritual leadership.
How is it that church female congregants can be instructed to come to church without wearing panties and swallow that statement hook, line and sinker, without the faintest suspicion that the pastor has entered upon the pathway of unorthodox and erroneous doctrine? Furthermore, can you imagine 20 young girls and mature women all being impregnated by one pastor and all of them lacking the sense to realise that something is wrong somewhere? Some congregants in South Africa were ordered to eat grass and snakes and they did. Other congregants in Zimbabwe ate tree leaves at the instruction of a prophet. Do they all not know that they eat these things to the detriment of their own health? Talk of blind faith!
After investigating and probing into the reasons why congregants give in to such bizarre instructions, I have gathered that the reasons are two-fold.
One is on the side of leaders. And the second one is on the side of congregants. Pastors hypnotise their congregants by quoting and twisting the scriptures. Scriptures like Matthew 10:41 and 2 Chronicles 20:20 are misinterpreted to the advantage of the pastor and to the disadvantage of the sheep.
Matthew 10:41 reads: “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” It is most likely that congregants ignore the mentioning of righteousness in this scripture and focus only on rewards. By so doing they are led astray by pastors seeking to take advantage of their lack of understanding of scripture.
Another common scripture that is used to brainwash congregants is 2 Chronicles 20:20 which says: “Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established; believe his prophets and you will prosper.” Many congregants seeking prosperity end up not believing in God but only in prophets for prosperity in their lives. But the scripture says believe in God first before you believe the prophet. The protection in believing God first is that you will be able to discern when the prophet goes against what God says. The Bible instructs us to obey God rather than man when men instruct us to say or do things which are contrary to God’s viewpoint.
Congregants, on the other hand, have some things in their hearts which make them gullible. For instance, many church members especially females believe so much in prophetic help that they even go to consult self-styled ghost-blustering prophets without their parents’ or husbands’ approval. The desire to find peace, security and prosperity quickly gets them into the hands of charlatans and false prophets. To put it bluntly in the Shona vernacular: Vanoda kushandirwa, kwete kushanda vega kuburikidza nokunamata vega, kutsanya nokuzviverengera Bhaibheri vega (They want someone to bless them so they can prosper instead of waiting patiently upon God and solve their problems on their own).
Furthermore, most congregants have itching ears. They desire to hear certain things and they even lead prophets into telling them what they themselves already know about their lives.
Biblical prophecy is not to be sought, but it is given at God’s time and it is always in consonance with Scripture. There is no spirit of prophecy or Holy Spirit that suggests something that has no trace or antecedent in the scriptures.
Though the police will do their work by bringing culprits to book, and God will severely punish such blasphemers, I urge genuine congregants to rather protect themselves by examining the scriptures and see if they are taught the right things and also to test every spirit as some spirits are not of God.
It is not disobedience for a church member to ask the pastor to point in the scriptures where he or she is given the authority to say or do something questionable and seek understanding of the scriptures before carrying out the pastor’s instructions.
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