Infantile Religiosity

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Some of our members perhaps do not appreciate fully the enormity of the problem we are dealing with in the mass movement that we call Christianity in today’s Nigeria. And this is the key source of my pain and distress. It is what Fr Isichei has referred to as an “INFANTILE” religion – a transactional religion that is often devoid of any element of the Christian spirituality that is exemplified in the saints of our Church – people who encountered the God of Jesus Christ and fell in love with Him; people who had the same experience of the all-consuming power of God’s love and now and again exclaimed like Prophet Jeremiah: You have seduced me Lord and I have allowed myself to be seduced; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed…(Jer 20:7).

My friends should note that it is not about me being frustrated or discouraged. Not at all by the grace of God! After all it is His work, not mine, and all He requires is that we be faithful to the task, and not look for results. Rather it is about me waking up to realise that I have been preaching and teaching a spiritual and theological content meant for adults who have had an encounter with the Lord, and who want to grow in the faith, and journey with me towards God’s kingdom; adults who are learning to embrace Jesus’ civilization of love; adults who recognise that it does not profit anyone to gain the whole world and lose their very souls; adults who recognise with the wise man in Ecclesiastes 1:2 that all the goodies available in this world (wealth & power, prestige & popularity, marriage & family, amount to vanity); only to discover to my shock that most of my people are still trapped at the infantile level in their religiosity, much like the first levels of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; that level at which prayer is not aimed at lifting the heart and mind to God, but aimed at appeasing, bribing, manipulating or twisting God’s hands into doing our will; that level at which attempts are made to coerce the God of love into destroying one’s enemies, etc.

I have suddenly come to the realisation that the core focus of most of my people in their religious enterprise is their “earth-bound ultimate goals.” The new Churches are flourishing on this. And men and women of God are helping to foster this, rather than helping to tame or moderate the natural human inclinations to pursue these earth bound goals at all cost, and with little or no consideration for what might be God’s will for us.

Powerful healers and miracle peddlers in our Churches are all cashing in on the desperation of the people to prosper in this world, by any means, foul or fair. This is the enterprise that we call Christianity in today’s Nigeria. And it appears that very few people, even among the leaders, recognise that there is a problem here. This is the source of my pain and distress. I guess that many of my friends and those around me cannot understand why I seem so impatient or so desperate for a wholesome change. I know that I have to work on my passion in this area, and learn to surrender more and more to God and his inscrutable design. Yes, I pray that the good Lord who wants to save all of his children will send suitable help from heaven. Amen.

I shall continue to make my own little effort with the many gifts, talents and resources God has bestowed upon me, and with the support of those of you who recognise the magnitude of the problem. May the Lord raise up better teachers than myself all over the place, who would be endowed with all it takes to show the true way of life to the straying children of God. Amen.

Fr George Ehusani

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