SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2014.
‘The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.’ Jh. 4v17-19.
Jesus had engaged the Samaritan woman in a long conversation with the aim of winning her over unto God. This woman in the eyes of people was a right off because of the way she led her life. She had five husbands in quick succession before living with the present. It was this reject of society, a right off in a manner of speaking that noticed that Jesus was a prophet. ‘The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.’ verse 19.
It is true Jesus spoke at length for His disciples had gone to the neigbourhood to buy food (Jh. 4v 8). One illuminating thing worthy of note is that while Jesus preached, the recipient, the Samaritan woman was led to the conclusion that the preacher at that point was a prophet. You may ask yourself, how did she know? What must have suggested such to her, being an immoral woman?
The burden of the ministry today is that many go on preaching, talking and sometimes are not aware that hearers or listeners try to find a nexus between the preacher and the preached word. The misleading thing for ministry today now bothers on eloquence and not character. So, the ability now to manipulate English language and not necessarily living out the gospel seem to be the order of the day. No wonder there is noise everywhere, to the negative effect that we have so many churches and more volume of sins in the world. Added to this is the aspect of worldliness that has crept into the church. Yes, some church leaders do not care anymore as long as the money, tithes keep coming and they smile to the banks, they are content. But should this be so?
In the reformed theology, those who preach the gospel must always be perceived, seen as people of God. They must have character as they do the work of ministry. Jesus, God Himself, had an occasion to ask His disciples: ‘who do men say that I am?’ We saw an avalanche of response before Peter hit the nail on the head: ‘You are the Christ, the son of the living God’. This according to bible records happened on the road to Caesarea Philippi (Matt.16:13-20). Jesus was conscious to get the perception, public view or comments about Himself. Yes, how many men of God are really bothered beyond preaching, the public view or comments about them.
In the Old Testament, we had another brilliant account of a woman of God who also saw Elisha as a great man of God. What did the bible recorded for her ‘Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food. She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. “Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there’ (2 Kgs. 4 v 8-10). The woman said, I perceive the man that passes here is a Holy man of God. Can people say of us: the man that ministers on the radio or television drawing large crowd is a man of God? Until ministers, handlers of God’s word become conscious of this fact, I think ministry for some people borrowing from the political class will remain only for the sake of ‘stomach infrastructure’. What a shame!
God had insisted by their fruits we shall know them (Matt. 7 v 20). How many are reflecting over this. I think time has come and the time is now as we await the second coming of Jesus Christ in this season of Advent for men and women to buckle up and be conscious of what people expect of them beyond preaching. The world today is in dire need of people of God who not only preach but live out what they preach. Remember, people read us as we read the people. Therefore, like the Samaritan woman, can they perceive us as prophets, Holy men of God? It is my prayer that the Lord would touch our lives – the preachers and those who hear us. St Paul sums it up with this advice: ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.’ (Acts 20 v 28) .Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.