The devil whispered to him, “go and start a church.” And he listened to the devil.
Those who are superstitious will be repelled by such a statement. Such people would think, ‘surely the devil wouldn’t encourage you to start a church because the church would be promoting the kingdom, helping people and blessing them.’ Well such thinking is faulty because it presupposes that the devil only uses ‘bad things’ to derail, distract or destroy God’s calling on the believer’s life. But the devil uses absolutely anything he can come up with to effect his agenda against the saints. The devil can tell you to do something which looks good in order to sabotage God’s true agenda for your life.
The devil can push Mr A to start a church while he abandons God’s assignment for his life which is to acquire 50,000 hectares of land in Osun state, grow cocoa, process, package and export it to Europe. If Mr A follows this ‘start a church’ thought planted in his heart by the enemy, he may think that he is ‘doing a lot for the kingdom,’ but in reality he would be causing harm to God’s plan. If his cocoa farm is not in operation, a certain number of people will not be employed by his company. Their families will not be taken care of by the money they would have earned by working at the farm. God would have to open different channels to meet the needs of those families. God would have to raise up another man or woman to pursue and effect His plan of starting the cocoa project.
Mr A may eventually have a large church and become a ‘successful and popular preacher.’ He may appear on television, where he shows the public his big church and many would think he is successful. However success for the believer is defined from God’s point of view, not by human assessment. People may look at Mr A (who has abandoned his assignment to go into growing and processing cocoa and has started a church) and think he is successful because of his cars, large church and material possessions. But God would have disqualified him for pursuing the wrong assignment.
In the kingdom what qualifies us as successful is our obedience to do what God has called us to do and nothing else. We can impress our friends, family and colleagues by the outward appearance of success but God would not be impressed, no, not for one second. What Impresses God, what gladdens his heart about us is when we commit ourselves to doing His will for our life.
I was in a bookshop recently and noticed a lady who had the emblem of a popular church on her key holder. This church teaches that success is about having money and material things, just like pagans who do not know God. She wasn’t in a hurry to leave the bookshop so I decided to engage her in a conversation. I like talking to complete strangers. That way, when the Holy Spirit reveals something personal to them during our conversation they would realise that God is talking to them directly because there would be no possible way for me to have such intimate and accurate information about them, humanly speaking.
I started the discussion by bringing up one of my favourite passages of scripture:
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness:for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
I explained to her that our lives are more than the accumulation and possession of money and material things. Our lives as Christians should be focused on the pursuit and fulfilment of God’s calling on our lives. The man in this passage of scripture acquired material things but his heart was far from God and the kingdom. The man was rich but God called him a fool. We usually don’t associate the word ‘fool’ with ‘rich.’ But God sees beyond our attempt to cover up the emptiness of our soul with money and material things.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
That man was rich in money and material things but was poor spiritually. When the day of reckoning arrived, his money did not count, neither could it save him from death.
The lady nodded her head in agreement with me. She told me that money is the only thing that contends with God’s will in our lives. She brought up this passage of scripture which showed that she understood what I was talking about.
No man can serve two masters:for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
I really liked her answer and thought to myself, ‘if she knew this, what was she doing at that church?’ I was about to get an answer to my question.
Then I brought up what I really wanted to talk about: ‘The Lord’s prayer’ in Matthew 6. That was when our conversation went crazy.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
The Lord’s prayer is the most popular passage of scripture for Christians. We pray it on every worship day. Discussing such a passage of scripture should be easy, right? Boy, was I in for an unpleasant surprise.
I explained to her that we should pray daily that the Will of God would find full expression in our lives. I shared with her that what is important to us as believers is for us to be found in the very centre of God’s Will for our lives, doing what He wants us to do and nothing else. Our lives should be totally dedicated to doing His will, no matter where or what it may be. We should strive daily to be conformed to the image of Christ, then carry out the specific assignment He has for us in the kingdom. I shared with her that The Lord would reward us not according to how many material things we acquired but by how well we obeyed and carried out his will. I talked about men and women who changed the world because they followed God’s will for their lives and not the vain pursuit of material things.
Suddenly the expression on her face changed. She said, “why are you telling me about the will of God? Don’t tell me about the will of God! I don’t want to hear about the will of God!”
I thought she was joking. So I said, “This is the Lord’s Prayer and surely as Christians we ought to pray it regularly over our lives.”
I wouldn’t relent and kept up the conversation. She looked at me with fear in her eyes. “Don’t tell me about God’s will,” she said. “I like my life the way it is. I don’t want to hear about God’s will.”
I wonder what delusion she was suffering from when she said that. I reminded her of the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 which says
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
She put her hands over her ears like a demoniac and shouted, “Don’t tell me about God’s will.” There was genuine terror in her eyes now. She looked around the bookstore and said, “what made me come to this place today? I should have gone elsewhere and avoided having this conversation. Who sent you to me?” she asked.
“God wants you to hear this message that was why He led us both to this bookshop today. The bible says the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord,” I said.
She shook her head vehemently. “No, I don’t think God led me to this place to hear what you are saying. I made a big mistake in coming here today,” she said, all in an attempt to fight against God’s will.
The prosperity and get rich quick lies she has heard from her church had so damaged her spiritual understanding but she didn’t realise it until it was exposed by our conversation. Her pastor teaches that God wants her to have money, be successful and become a great leader. He feeds her with lies which have turned her focus away from the kingdom and placed it on material things, on temporal things. Because of her pastor’s lies, she had come to associate The will of God with living a difficult life, experiencing hardship and suffering. These are the lies that get rich quick pastors infuse into the mind of the gullible, the ignorant and the covetous. What is the point in being a Christian if you will not lay down your life, carry your cross and follow The Lord Jesus Christ? The whole point about Christianity is to lay down our lives for the Master’s pleasure, no matter what it may be.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
This lady is intelligent, has a good job, looked good on the outside, used the right Christian terms and expressions but her heart was deceived. Instead of running INTO God’s Will for her life, she was running AWAY from it.
Unfortunately her pastor is lying to her, lying to his church, lying to all those who listen to him. This lady’s perspective of Christ and the kingdom are warped. She believes God is like a genie in a bottle and His assignment is to help her get rich and live a comfortable life.
Before leaving I told her that “Running to Canada may help you acquire money and material things but if you are outside of God’s will it would all be a total waste of your life.”
Her eyes opened wide and she took a step back in trepidation. “Who told you about Canada? Why did you mention Canada?” she asked.
I didn’t bother to explain to her that the Holy Spirit can reveal the thoughts of our hearts because she wouldn’t understand what I was talking about. You see, her pastor does not talk about, neither does he demonstrate or practice the supernatural power of God. He meanders in the mundane, banters about the banal and teaches about the temporal and mostly unimportant issues of life. On the other hand maybe she would have understood it, who knows?
I ended our conversation by telling her that the safest place on the planet is in God’s will. I gave her my book titled ‘Clarity.’ Encouraged her to read it and call to share what she learns from it.
It’s been over five weeks since we met and I am still expecting to hear from her.