Chris OyakhilomeChris Oyakhilome

The word 'anointing' is probably the worst word that has been introduced to the Nigerian Christian’s vocabulary in recent years. Like the word ‘gay' that used to mean ‘merry' and now means 'homosexual', ‘anointing' has been infused with new and inferior meanings. Anointing used to refer to the power of God at work to change lives and bring men closer to God by his miracles or judgement. And the anointed was the vessel through which God accomplished these works. The vessel was never really that important because God used sticks (Moses’ rod), animals (Prophet Balaam’s donkey), as well as people. It was his power that was important, not the vessel. However, in this modern era of Christianity, the anointed has gained significantly more prominence over the anointing and has begun to Lord it over the people of God. The anointing now stands for the ability to make money from, entertain, manipulate and/or bully church members and communities to submit to the will of the so-called anointed leader of a congregation or denomination in the name of God. It is experienced as goosebumps, excited exuberance, gyrations and screams in service, falling under the power, beautiful aesthetics, highfalutin words, and prophetic blessing or cursing. For example, an unentertaining choir will most likely not be considered anointed and any church experience that gives congregants ecstatic euphoria is considered very anointed. Really?! People seem to forget that Pharaoh’s magicians performed the same miracles as Moses with their sorcery. And much like ‘gay', the nouveau Christianity welcome the new definition of the 'anointing' and it’s new ‘anointed’ carriers as an accepted way of life.

I wonder at times if we haven’t seen people falling out at a Michael Jackson concert? Haven’t we felt goosebumps listening to Whitney Houston or some other musician sing an inspirational song? Have we not heard secular/non-Christian speakers make accurate predictions about the future? Are these people anointed because they create these effects or do these things? Many Christians will answer, yes. Therein lies the problem. Nigerian church leaders, the new class of anointed, have attracted and cultivated a gullibility in their followers that world-class illusionists and hypnotists should take heed to learn from. Be sober, be vigilant, be cautious at all times for your enemy, the devil, roams around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Watch and pray. These are Bible admonitions given to Christians, but many are too busy defending the anointed while the enemy continues to steal, kill and destroy in their lives. 

It would seem like the more anointed a Pastor is, the more money he is expected to have. The thinking of many pastors is summarized in this scripture, ”a poor man’s wisdom is quickly despised”. The interpretation often given to scriptures like this is sometimes baffling. Statements like “no money, no respect” which has defined our society’s way of life arise from it. This aside, how about Jesus? Was he rich in his earthly ministry? Matthew, Mark, Luke and John show us that he had influence and his needs were met as he trusted God to meet them but he did not have wealth, neither did he merchandise his power or teachings like his so-called messengers now do. In fact Paul said, Jesus was made poor for our sake. The concluding part of that scripture says that we through his poverty might become rich. Let me quickly make a point here before the prosperity preachers start frothing at the mouth. Was Apostle Paul (the man who wrote this scripture) rich himself? Was Timothy, his protégé rich? Remember the warning Paul gave to Timothy about Christians whose motive is to get rich. He said, many have wandered away from the faith because of it and have pierced themselves with many sorrows. He further tells Timothy to teach those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money. Paul must not have heard about the new “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” gospel. James said, “listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you…You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” “The son of man has no place to lay his head”, it was said about Jesus. This is how rich Jesus Christ, the Father of Christianity, was. I use the term “Father of Christianity” because every pastor is ‘Papa’ and a “Father in the Lord” today. If they are indeed in the Lord, Christ, they would obey him, but are they? The love of money is the root of all evil, yet many congregations are taught to love money, seek money, and celebrate money every Sunday morning. Trust these new anointed men of God to reinterpret scripture for us. Hypnotists take note. 

Nevertheless scriptures do not condemn Christians to poverty rather they suggest that riches or lack thereof should be irrelevant to our walk with God, rather than this place of prominence that it has taken in our worship. Jesus said, “Be careful to guard against all forms of greed, because even if someone is rich, his life does not consist in what he owns.” Apostle Paul said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”. However, our new anointed pastors will teach "5 secrets of prosperity" and "10 steps to your financial freedom" but the secret of being content in every situation of life, Never! How can you talk about lack? It is a curse, isn’t it? Paul must not have read that memo that’s why he would dare suggest learning to be content even when in lack. It is unfortunate that many Christian ministers are compromised; collecting money from drug dealers, scammers, thieves, and corrupt government officials who come to give “tithes” and “prophetic offerings” to their anointed men of God. Using these monies to build schools and giant auditoriums do not make the gift any more holy than the ill means by which they were got. You may remember some years ago when Lawrence Agada, a senior cashier with Sheraton Hotels and Towers paid Christ Embassy N39 million in the name of sowing seed. How the cashier came about such money while his salary from the hotel was ostensibly his only source of income was not the church’s concern. The ministry was just glad to receive the money and to my knowledge, never paid it back. Before we criticize this ministry as being uniquely bad, let’s be aware that this is not only common practice but has been raised to level of epidemic in churches around us today. Pastors have become the new “babalawos” of modern thieves. They proclaim blessings in exchange for gifts. Prophet offering! It’s a nice scam that’s paying its proponents  big dividends. This is not so much a new phenomenon as a reincarnation in a new Christian order. The Italian mafia and some Catholic priests have historically had a similar relationship for several generations until the recent purge attempt by Pope Francis. 

A more amazing phenomenon and a case study for future hypnotist and illusionists is that congregations will defend their ‘anointed’ men of God even with evidence of impropriety. Anointed men/women of God may misappropriate church funds and the congregation whose funds have been spent on personal gain will be the first to fight you for speaking up. Church members will tell you "I don’t care what they do with the money. My part is to obey God. Let God deal with them”. Interesting! You can see how God has been dealing with them as they build bigger houses, travel round the world at your expense, live in 5-star hotels, give expensive gifts to their girlfriends, buy new cars and jets, while you can hardly pay your child’s school fees, right? All these despite the fact that many of these pastors have no other jobs. Have you heard pastors brag on their pulpits that they don’t need their congregation’s financial gifts. I’ve noticed that many full -time pastors who dare say such things have milked their member’s money and contacts for several years prior and long enough to build and establish theirs and their spouse’s businesses, so now they can brag. However in an interesting twist, this reverse psychology, seems to inspire their congregation to give to them even more money. These gullible congregations and their anointed men of God definitely deserve each other.  

When a pastor sleeps around, the usual attitude and responses from faithfuls are “Who are you to speak about it?” “Leave him to God.” “He’s God servant. God will deal with him.” And the all time classic “Touch not his anointed.” They continue to say this until it’s them, their sister, daughter, wife, mother, or friend that the Pastor has seduced/impregnated and then they sing a different tune. How very spiritual indeed. An anointed man of God may sleep with church members and get away with it as long as he’s still perceived as being 'anointed'. By the way, whatever happened to Biodun Fatoyinbo’s robust response to the sexual allegation by Ese Walters. I must have missed it. After writing this, I’m expecting the usual threats, curses, unsolicited advice and warnings about my daring to talk about an “anointed man of God” in this manner or my insolence at referring to an anointed man of God without his title. By the way, true respect is earned, not automatically given or even demanded. That’s another thing this  hypocritical culture needs to learn.  

Have you noticed that the more recognition a man of God has, the bigger his  church congregation is expected to be, even if he is a crook. If a pastor has a small congregation, he must not be that anointed. It’s as if the crowd around him is an indication of the level of his anointing. So there’s an unholy drive for church growth by all means. How dare a pastor of a small congregation speak up against the teachings of one with a bigger congregation? The half-brained and generally accepted reasoning among church goers is that he must be jealous of what the bigger pastor has and so should shut up without them even analyzing the merits of what was said. So the truthiness of an issue is now determined by what the more influential man of God says it is. How interesting! Furthermore, pastors of large congregations are quick to quote from the Acts of the Apostles that when the anointing came on the church, many people were added to the church. However, they forget that Jesus was sometimes without a large congregation and he, unlike them, had the anointing without measure. Remember when Jesus told the crowd that they had to eat his body and drink his blood? Everybody left him except his true disciples which were few in number. Think about how many people would remain in Church if the pastor ever told the truth that corrupt officials, scammers, and fornicators would not inherit the Kingdom of God, no matter how much prophet offering they brought to him. You can’t buy your way into heaven. Funny thing is that congregations might actually point to their pastors as the most guilty. I will go further to talk about John the Baptist who when he was losing his crowds to Jesus and his disciples asked him about it said, Jesus must become greater, I must become less.

Somebody should tell that to some church people like Winner’s chapel members who call on the "god of our Father, Bishop David Oyedepo". A church where the Bishop is increasingly getting bigger than Jesus Christ himself. That’s why he’ll slap a young girl who claimed to be a “witch for Jesus” and otherwise intelligent people would think it’s ok. Sure, it’s fine as long as the witch is an unsophisticated, semi-educated girl from Imo State. I wonder how this would have played out if she had turned out to be the daughter of a Senator or some other prominent member of society. Here’s a litmus test: take the name of Jesus in vain or curse in Jesus’ name around many Winners (indeed many Christians) and they may not notice and some may go as far as frowning. But you tell the truth about their anointed Prophet’s unbiblical conduct or proclamations and get ready for hell. It’s an interesting phenomenon where the messenger is honored more than his master, isn’t it? To be fair, this illusion is not limited to Winners Chapel. Or should we talk about T. B. Joshua who may have inadvertently murdered over a hundred people by the collapse of his church building. He then tries to pull the wool over everyone’s face that it was a UFO or Boko Haram’s fault. Abracadabra! Now you see me, now you don’t. Welcome to Illusionist 101. He would mostly likely be acquitted of any wrongdoing by whatever pseudo-investigation is conducted by the Nigerian government. Nicholas Ibekwe’s recording of T. B. Joshua’s press briefing may shed more light on tactics being adopted. But really, so the god of Bishop David Oyedepo answers prayer differently than God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to investigate this god further. The god of Bishop David Oyedepo does the impossible. It gives you children even though you don’t have a womb. It raises the dead. It gives you wealth beyond your imagination. It even gives Oyedepo power to curse anyone that dares criticize his words or actions and it comes to pass. Very interesting! Remember Pharaoh’s magicians? Just saying!

We have become men worshippers, haven’t we? Worshipping E. A. Adeboye, Umai Ukpai, David Oyedepo, Chris Oyakhilome, T. B. Joshua, Matthew Ashimolowo, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland or any other celebrity pastors out there. I’ll be surprised if I don’t get cussed out by some people just for mentioning the names of their god - excuse me - anointed man of God, here. “You shall have no other god besides me”, the Bible says. We are to “serve God without respect of persons”. Isn’t it ironical that these so-called anointed preachers will actually teach their congregations this but will expect this same congregation to respect their own opinion more than the Bible’s. These anointed men will even go as far as to teach that God’s leading in your life and even your conscience is subject to their spiritual guidance. Some will teach this directly and still others will invite another ‘anointed’ celebrity pastor to teach this to their people to give it more weight and make it seem like it’s not just their own opinion. Church members are further taught to fight people who criticize their anointed men of God and like heedless sheep they fight when a cross word is spoken about their Bishop but will not even flinch when the cross is disparaged.

If Christ is not the center of your Christian worship, you are not a Christian. Period. You may be a Redeemer, a Deeper Lifer, a Winner or whatever moniker your congregation is known by but certainly not a Christian. Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. The scriptures say, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”, not looking at an anointed man. The scripture doesn’t even say looking unto Jesus through your anointed man. The man of God is a servant, not a boss! He’s a tool that God uses and is not to Lord it over you, even if he’s so anointed that he floats in the sky. 

As anointed as Peter was, so much that his shadow was healing the sick, Paul called him to order in a way that would have caused a scandal in today’s churches. Furthermore it was on a matter that would have been considered trivial. Peter had retreated from eating with the Gentiles in Antioch for fear of the Jews who came from Apostle James in Jerusalem and many Jews followed his example including Barnabas. So what?! But Paul seeing Peter's duplicity publicly accused him of being a hypocrite. I sometimes daydream of how this would have played out if it was David Oyedepo, Chris Oyakhilome, Chris Okotie or other ‘great’ Presiding Prelate or General Overseer in Nigeria who was in Peter’s place. First of all members of their congregation would probably have accosted Paul and asked him how he had the effrontery, and audacious temerity to talk to a General of God like that, especially one of Peter’s revered status. The anointed man of God would probably also have preached a sermon and written Paul through his Communications Director. He would have asked Paul where he was throughout the three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry on the earth, when he, Peter, was learning how to do ministry directly, unadulteratedly from the master, Jesus Christ himself. He would have told him how he was one of the few who witnessed Jesus’ earthly ministry from the beginning to the end; how he was one of only 3 other human beings who were with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration, who saw Moses and Elijah and heard God’s voice boom, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him”; how he, Peter, had walked on water just like Jesus and how many people did Paul know who walked on water. He would have told Paul about how he had attended a wedding where he witnessed Jesus’ first miracle and was one of the last to see him ascend to heaven. He would told him how he was one of the 3 inner circle members of the 12 disciples who later became Apostles. He would have made Paul feel that he did not fear spiritual authority by not realizing that when Jesus was ascending to heaven, he left him, Peter, in charge of the church. But he didn’t, because in spite of all of these great spiritual experience he had, in that moment, Peter was a hypocrite and was leading the Church astray by his actions. So rather, Peter humbly accepted the correction of a nobody; a man who had been a persecutor of the church; who had never met Jesus before he was crucified; who had no title or position in the church administration. For Peter, the truth was bigger than his ego. Someone needs to teach this to the many tin-gods, with over-bloated sense of self importance, who mount Nigerian Church pulpits every Sunday.

Just for a moment, if you are old enough, think back to what Christianity looked like before these words ‘anointing’ and ‘anointed’ became common place among Nigerian Christians and tell me that Christianity has taken a turn for the better. I don’t smoke or do drugs but if you think Christianity has, I’d like to try whatever it is you are smoking or sniffing so we can hallucinate together. Let’s leave all this anointing nonsense and let’s get back to what Christianity is about, reconciling the world back to God through the preaching of repentance from dead works and acceptance of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross of calvary, so that he, Christ, can return to take his own. Finally, if your pastor’s opinion has a bigger sway on your life than what the Word of God actually says, you need to snap out of the hypnotism is all I’m saying. So now, how many fingers am I holding up?

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