“When the Righteous Prosper, the City Rejoices: when the Wicked Perish, there are Shouts of Joy”
The conjunction “when” in the above strongly indicates that the rejoicing of the city depends on the prosperity of the Righteous, and for the people to shout for joy, the wicked must perish. Comparing that expression with “Righteousness exalts a Nation…,” I ask myself: is Nigeria where she is today, at age 52, because there is no righteousness in her? If you think of the incessant bombing, kidnapping, militancy, armed robbery, mismanagement and looting of government funds etc, you would probably say “Yes, Nigeria is unrighteous’. But if, on the other hand, you consider the number of G.Os, Bishops, Apostles, Evangelists, and Pastors, such that about 4 out of every 10 living rooms of the houses you find on a street have been converted to religious use and filled with people who seem to have kept all commandments from their youth up, you would boldly say “No, there is righteousness in this country.”
This year, Nigeria turned 52, I do not think too many people are shouting for joy. Posts all over facebook, tweets on twitter, broadcast messages, display pictures and statuses on BBM all point to one simple fact: “The people are unhappy behind painted smiles. Their heartaches and frustrations seem dressed up in modern styles.” For 52 years, they are yet to see anything worth celebrating in the Nigeria they call their own. Alas, the city may not be rejoicing because the wicked are not perishing and the righteous do not seem to be prospering.
But wait a minute, are the righteous not prospering, with all the private universities and jets, hefty tithes, offerings and “SEEDS” that roll in every other day; with or without any assurance that the same hands that bring them have not being collecting from mammon? If a child has manners, he can eat at the elders’ table; so the “faithful servants” are the ones who bring bulls and bullocks to the Priest (who alone can take them into the holy of holies), to receive anointed hands on their heads, that they may continue to prosper in all their endeavours; even if such endeavours are the reasons an average man on the street lives on less than a dollar a day. The same veil of the temple that we were told was rent into two from the top to the bottom has been seamed back into one from the bottom to the top. Do you still wonder why sin, which is already a reproach, remains exactly that? Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. When evil is blessed, it multiplies. What the people seek behind the veil is already in their hearts but a man can only be as free as the measure of truth he knows. Ignorance; the disease of the mind is definitely worse than HIV.
Here I stand, looking at mighty congregations, gigantic structures, supposed missionary jets flying over common men who could barely eat a meal a day and make-believe missionary universities that the child of an ordinary member cannot afford to attend because 10% of his father’s salary is tithe, 5% or thereabouts is for offering and about 20-30% is for “Seed”, with which the jets are bought and the universities are built. After all, we can only get when we give. That is the order of the day. Bring what you have to get what you do not have from a business oriented “god” who operates on a “nothing goes for nothing and nothing ever could” principle. “Leprosy is okay and can stay; but ringworm is what we must chase away.” – Misplaced Priorities – The crucial issues left unattended to and the mundane ones are all over the press. Even if the children do not go to school, “work” must progress. The prophet must eat, so the widow should surrender all that she has left for herself and her only surviving son. I remember a certain Rich Man who was once told to sell all that he has and give to the poor, that he may have treasure in heaven. Now the equation is reversed. It is the Poor Man that is now directly or indirectly asked to sell the little or nothing he has, that is not even enough to feed himself and his family, and give to the Rich, that he (the poor) may have treasure on earth. After all, everyone who has shall be given; and from him that has not, even the little he has shall be taken away from him. I see how many more people troop to religious houses every Sunday, and as much as I do not have any problem with that, I cannot just stop wondering why righteousness is yet to exalt this Nation. Works stand still for prayers every Friday afternoon, and yet, there is hardly any rejoicing, even when the “righteous” seem to be prospering. We all keep building structures but never build our hearts; the Temples look like Paradise but Our Conscience look like Dungeons; the Altar where the issues of life come from is being left unguarded.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is RIGHTEOUSNESS that EXALTS a Nation not RELIGION. Nigeria, my dear Nation is grounded in religion that even a man who has just changed 20,000 to 2,000,000 naira in his office would, 10 minutes later, gallantly walk into a religious house to pay his vows, pledges and dues, and still would not be remorseful for the act. After all, the windows of heaven must open and “things must not be tight for him.” The house of bread no longer has bread. Spiritual substance has been traded for mere material success. So long the Benjamins flow in; we sure serve a living God.
A Righteous Man is not a man without sin but one that has his heart grounded in the fear of God to be acceptable to Him and in love for his own people to be approved of them. Righteousness is of the Heart and Religion is of the Hand; by works shall no man be justified. A good heart is a sweet fragrance to life and the most expensive perfume on earth cannot cover the stench of a terrible one. Show me a service-oriented man, one whose heart is beached on making a difference in people’s lives and earning a fair and square success through that, and I will show you a man who is fit to take up the mantle of leadership. A man who has Love and Respect for God, the People, and himself. Have you ever asked yourself how God could call King David a man after His Heart, with all the sins he committed? David trusted in God and fought effortlessly for the good of Israel, and it was counted to him for Righteousness. David was not religious but he was righteous. He never faced any battle without first inquiring of God and whenever he stepped out of God’s will, he would always find his way back, being all repentant, and never repeating the same mistake again. David was young, but he had a kind of heart that made him The King that Israel has never had before. He, at a very high cost, walked through the door of greatness but did not shut it behind him; just like Moses and Joseph too.
“Moses” loved his people so much he killed an Egyptian for one of them. He was like a prince in the palace but he traded all to move his people out of slavery. “Joseph“, for love, concluded that he was sent ahead of his own people to protect and provide for them during the long years of famine after all they did to him. Great Men of Valour do not use their bad experiences as an excuse to be hostile and treat others like filthy rags but rather they say: “I have made it here, through tooth and nail, to be there for those who come thereafter.” Corruption is a goliath and Nigeria needs a Boy David to bring it down. But something tells me he is still in the bush taking care of his father’s sheep. Then, can someone please help me tell Prophet Samuel that it is time to pay the House of Jesse a visit? Is he still busy counting the tithes, offerings and seeds from last Sunday’s Harvest and Thanksgiving Service? Or could he be on his private jet to the United States of America spreading the Gospel and might still be there for the next three years? What happens to a village like Kymara in Kaduna State? Don’t they need the gospel too? Well maybe they don’t, because the villagers only have maize, rice, beans and cassava seeds to sow but those ones obviously take months to grow. Who says we cannot plant now and harvest on the spot? It is the ATM machine kind of sowing and reaping we all crave for these days, so why won’t there be hunger in the land? Today the youths graduate and bombard oil companies with CVs and application letters. Why won’t we? We are a generation led by gluttons who would rather make money from oil and buy food from abroad than produce food and oil and make the white man buy both from us. A wise man does not eat with ten fingers but we have rulers who have also added their toes; only paying attention to oil as though it is the living water we will drink and never thirst again. Worst of all, even the religious do not encourage the sowing of seeds that come from the villages…so no need taking the gospel to such places. And besides, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects there would make the place unconducive for the carrier of the message.
Excuse me please; every leader is a reflection of the people he governs. Let us start from the grassroots; if we put a average Nigerian on the seat, will the story be different from what obtains today? How many of our neighbours have we ever been responsible for? A child raised in the mud cannot point accusing finger at a pig. King David came from among Israel and so did Solomon. Nigerian Leaders came from us; they reflect us. They are like spilled milk; so let us not waste too much of our precious time and energy crying over their incompetence and inadequacies. We should rather cry over the fact that we do not impact the person next to us in any positive way. Right now, the only hope left seems to be in the generation next. Yet the time for hope has passed; it is Time to Act. Go ye into all the world and teach the children not how to be religious but how to be righteous. It is time to train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old, he will not depart from it. But, who is going to train them? Who can give what he does not have? Is it those who have lost a sense of family values and now chasing shadows? Or the elder whose presence in the marketplace does not make any difference as the child’s head is bent on his mother’s back? It definitely cannot be those who have turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves, making absolutely nowhere safe for the children to play. Today, undeniably, we have escaped from the deceit of waiting on a ‘tomorrow’ which they promised us yesterday. Truth is that the afore-promised tomorrow is actually the ‘today’ we live out. So we have to find a better way . . . before tomorrow becomes today. We pray and pray but never move. Faith without works is dead. It is time to pick up our brushes and start painting. By works is faith made perfect!
Well then, if you help me find King Saul, please tell him to rule on. Remind him of the tormenting spirit through which the True Leader will find a chance into the Palace. I trust “the Oil” to locate the little boy David even in his hiding…if he could give his life to save just one sheep from the mouth of the bear, of course he is fit to rebuild the Nation according to the Father’s will. He will call all compatriots and they will obey. He will serve his Father’s land with love and strength and faith. The labour of our heroes past will not be in vain because he will serve with heart and might to bind the Nation in freedom, peace and unity.
As we always pledge to be Faithful, Loyal and Honest; to Serve with all Strength; to Defend Unity and Uphold Power and Glory – that is the RIGHTEOUSNESS that will exalt Nigeria. Rulers do not know about it, but we still stand a chance; you and me. We do not come from them, they came from us. And who we are, is who they will always be. Michael Jackson sang: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer; if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”. If I do that, I will chase a thousand and if you do it too and join your hands with mine, we will both put ten thousand to flight. We will no longer look on the outward appearance, but depend on the God who looks on the heart. The Heart of Nigeria’s Matter is a Matter of The Nigerian Heart; for it is only by the heart that a true leader is revealed.
H. Gordon Selfridge said: “The boss drives people; the leader coaches them. The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says “I”; the leader says “WE”. The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss says, “GO”; the leader says “LET’S GO!”
When I say “Welcome to a New Nigeria!” Bosses can excuse us. But Leaders should please shout H-U-R-R-A-Y!!!
Olaotan Fawehinmi,a prolific Writer and Public Speaker,resides in Lagos State.He is on twitter as @kissholla and on facebook as www.facebook.com/kissholla.