The Parable of the Sower is a well-known Bible passage in which Jesus illustrates our different responses to God’s word. In the parable, a certain sower went out to scatter seed, some of which fell:
- on the path and were devoured by birds;
- on rocky ground and, because they had no roots, were scorched by the sun
- among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants and
- on good earth, where it yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
The parable is quite straightforward, especially as Jesus Himself explains what it means (see Mathew 13: 18-23). However, today at church, it took on a new meaning as I listened to the visiting priest give his sermon.
Choosing to ignore Jesus’ interpretation of the parable, the priest proceeded to offer his own. According to him, Jesus’ purpose was to highlight three different enemies of our progress:
- demonic birds that fly at night to steal God’s blessing from us;
- invisible scorching suns that gradually steal our progress, with an aim to take us from grace to grass;
- evil persecutors who choke us of God’s blessing in a bid to drag us down with them.
On the backdrop of this twisted interpretation and disingenuous fear-mongering, the priest went on to prophesy restoration unto the congregation.
Now that he had the congregation setup, he delivered his punchline. I paraphrase:
“We have prayed against these enemies of progress so you are now like the good earth that produces crop. But if you go back to the passage, you’ll see that some produced crop thirty, sixty or hundred fold. Do you know why they had varying yields?”
He explained that the amount of sacrifice (time and money) you give determines how many folds of (mostly material) blessing you will receive. This has nothing to do with the parable, which focuses on God’s word, not God’s blessings.
Finally, he enjoined (more like cajoled) everyone to come out with ₦1,000 each when it was time to “unveil the harvest”.
Last Sunday, we were handed pamphlets; written on them were four proposed harvest themes. Such a delicate matter as choosing a harvest theme — a spiritual proclamation that will be used throughout the season — requires special attention. Which is why everyone was expected to pray about it and come back this Sunday with their chosen theme in mind.
But rather than casting lots — like the Apostles did — or employing other spirit-led means, we had to vote using our money. There were four baskets each representing a theme. The one with the highest number of ₦,1000 notes would obviously decide the harvest theme.
People were encouraged to vote for more than one theme (each vote worth ₦1,000). In addition, anybody who was “moved by the Spirit” to donate ₦5,000, ₦10,000 and above was welcome to bring it today or over the course of the next two weeks, after which the winning theme will be announced. For me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I think it is sad that we now live in an age where money gets to decide God’s will for the church. Now, I am not against giving your resources to the church. Anyone who knows me knows how much of my time and, when I can, money I dedicate to church work every week. I however do not subscribe to the enslaving demands most Nigerian pastors/priests make of their congregation. God’s blessings just don’t work that way ; it’s high time more people realised the truth.
God have mercy on us all.