Culture and Lifestyle

Marketing Heaven for Profit

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Jesus Christ made a profound statement when he asked Christians not to store up treasures for themselves on earth, but in heaven. Those who should be proponents of these religious teachings seem to be doing the obverse. In a world where poverty, hunger, and unemployment are rife, one still finds men of God storing up immense treasures and wealth for themselves on earth. It wouldn’t be a fallacy to posit that no time in the history of man have we seen men of God with so much wealth than now. As it is, there are hundreds of pastors who are reveling in sheer opulence while a good number of their congregation who “feed” them from the little they have via religious obligations, are languishing below poverty line.

It is sad enough that this is the reality, but to muster the temerity to shove it in the face of the congregation is reprehensible. In a video that went viral on social media Apostle Suleman was seen boasting of his wealth in front of the congregation. He stated that while people were complaining about the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he bought his third private jet:

“In COVID, I bought a jet. The third one. I have three. I was praying for COVID not to end because I was resting. While people were complaining, my wife asked, ‘Can life be this sweet?’ Am I talking to somebody here?

“No stress. I read on the net that there’s a rumour going around that I have a machine that prints money. I like that rumour. They say, he should be investigated. He has a machine that prints money.

“Somebody asked if it’s true and I said it is true. They said, ‘It’s risky o’. I said I didn’t know it’s risky because I already bought the machine. When you speak in tongues, you’re printing money.”

While one wonders what manner of apostle Suleiman is, the question is, what is a man who parades himself as a representative and oracle of God doing with a third private jet in this COVID era? Does it portray the lifestyle of the Saviour whom he claims to be working for?

If Jesus were “alive”, would he rather be involved in the business of storing up treasures for himself on earth? Would he go ahead to buy a private jet, a third one in a continent and country where there are people who cannot afford one square meal let alone two a day; where people are embittered and frustrated from unemployment and other challenges and are equally committing suicide; where almost every second, someone slides below the poverty line? Why would a man who is not managing an airline brag about that?

It is commendable that Apostle Suleiman was one of several donors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he received criticism for not giving anything to the government, he offered a bulwark by insisting that God will reward him and his wife for the hundreds of millions they gave to the poor directly.

However, it is no news that the house of God is now a business venture, a money-making sanctuary. Many men of God have commoditized the Christian faith, turning the house of God into a place where pecuniary gain is the ultimate aim. This is why many churches rescind preaching salvation, which itself is the fundamentals of Christianity. Prosperity and success is the “new school”. Even when salvation is preached, it is only a means to an end. Heaven now sells at a price. It is in fact a bait.

These purported men of God understand the scramble for money in this modern dispensation. They understudy the cost and demand of wealth, incorporating it into the DNA of their religious teachings to boost traffic, which in turn translates to more resources for the church and their already overflowing pockets. It is not so much whether pastors should be wealthy or not as this polemics is as old as religion. It is majorly what they do with their wealth, and how much impact they make in their space. What we see with some men of God however bespeak their avarice and their negation of the teachings of Christ who made the masses the center of his concern.

The educational sector has a lot of prospects in terms of return on investment (ROI) so it doesn’t come as a surprise to see churches having academic institutions to their names.

Even so, it is a well-known fact that many pastors have gone on to build schools and institutions from the offerings and tithes of their congregation only to make the fees so exorbitant that the wards of most members cannot attend. Isn’t it rather strange that some of the most expensive universities in Nigeria are owned by churches? We have the likes of Bowen University, Covenant University, Benson Idahosa University, Babcock university, Redeemers University, Ajayi Crowther University and Madonna all of which are listed among the ten most expensive schools in Nigeria.

The fact that churches have now become a field for marketing is really a serious cause for concern. Many pastors have excused their love for private jets under the pretext of purchasing it to facilitate the process of spreading the gospel.

Even so, several men of God have committed great atrocities under the Biblical immunity of touch not my anointing and do my prophets no harm. The house of God has been subjected to all sorts of gimmicks and antics. It is not only frightening; it is equally dismal to see the name of God being used to perpetrate all manners of evil ranging from extortion to sexual malfeasance.

Read Also: Yahoo Pastors and The Commoditization of Faith

The Bible recorded that God created man in his own image. But what we have in our world today is the reverse. God now exists in man’s image. In other news, men have created God in their own image, selling a personalized idea of God for personal gratification and enrichment.

As earlier mentioned, it is not so much whether pastors should be wealthy or not. After all, Jesus Christ had nothing, yet he fed thousands of people who were hungry. If he wanted the treasures of the world, he would have gotten them but like the mother hen, he made sure everyone was satisfied before he ate, and there were indeed days he went without anything. This was someone that wasn’t in the business of collecting tithes or offerings. He even gave offerings. But in a world ravaged by hunger, and all forms of social deficits, you still find some men of God gathering plenty, doing little or nothing to change the status quo. This is a huge irony.

Peters Abodunrin

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