SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2010.
EXPECTATIONS OF CONGREGATION ON MINISTERS
BY ERNEST ONUOHA
Part of the scriptural justification for the call of ministers of Religion is found in Hebrews chapter 5 V 14, it says; “No one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.” And so their call being rooted in the scriptures is a valid license that they can relate to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. The enormity of their job must not merely be taken lightly.
Truly, those who qualify, the congregations expect that they pay attention to these three areas as they discharge their ministerial functions.
Firstly, that minister of Religion must be insulated from the temptations of the ordinary people.
It may not be big news for a school teacher to impregnate his pupil. Justifications may follow, are they not two consenting adults? Even if the teacher pays for damages and refuse to marry the one he wrongly impregnated, it must not be so with a minister of Religion. By his calling, training and ordination, the congregation already is saying “a man of God, a minister of Religion cannot stoop so low.” Like Ceasar’s wife must be above board. His anointing at least should enable him to be an overcomer. The issue of whether the congregations are right or wrong does not arise but this is to help the minister be in check as God’s representative. This is also a call for him to beware. In Zech. 2 V 8 God says “the congregations are the apple of His eyes, whoever tampers with them, He will destroy.”
Many Church congregations have been wounded, by many escapades and randy lives of some ministers of Religion. But let it be reminded that those who serve, requires a high degree of perfection and trust from the flock. To the effect that if they are given money, they should be accountable, if they are entrusted with souls, they should not turn round to devour them. God is very, very unhappy and He says through the prophet Jeremiah: “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have been seeing something horrible: they commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.” Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty says concerning the prophets: “I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.” Jer. 23:14-15.
Secondly; that the gospel they preach must have a greater effect on their lives. The congregations are aware that ministers read the bible, but they in turn read their lives. Often we find it unjustifiable, two ministers who stay at the same altar, share the same pulpit, share the sacraments of Holy Communion can hardly be in talking terms or live peaceably with one another. Instead, we witness intrigues, infighting, ill feelings and sometimes poisoning especially when there are vacant positions to be filled. Yes, some go extra mile. (May God pardon some of his ministers). If we read John 2V35–42, we are told that Andrew first found Jesus and then brought his own brother, Simon. For Andrew service of God should be done co-operatively and collaboratively too. He was not threatened by the presence of his brother, Simon. This could be a gospel in demonstration. But today, what do we see among the so called ministers of religion. Some do not practice what they preach and that accounts for strive, gossips, backbiting, ungodliness and wait “for your turn syndrome“. The Church of God feels and rightly too that when ministers of religion talk about love of neighbour, they should be archetypal of what they preach. I still remember with nostalgia what happened in a Church sometime ago. A Church worker had felt that his co-labourer was too popular and he decided to waste him in a cold blood. This is one out of so many examples. No wonder the bible says “anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness”. I John.2:9
Thirdly, that minister should be guided by some religious taboos.
It is not to be heard no matter how profitable such a venture may be that a minister is a general manager of a brothel or its owner. Also he should not be applauded to be very good in playing pool or draft. Already God says and is true… “he will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory”. Phil. 4:19. So any road side gain of course is immediately lost. God knows how best to reward those who firmly trust Him. Let it be said that no matter how attractive on the surface certain jobs may tend to pose, those who stand in the gap should not be associate with them.
Members of the congregation firmly believe that ministers of God are “go between” that is between them and God and they should be content. So there is never a time ministers will be competing with members of the congregation. We have been called to serve and should avoid certain things that are taboo in the sight of God. It now behooves the ministers to truly rise up to their calling and serve God and humanity accordingly.
I think no time is better than now to put into practice what the congregation expects of them. Elections are around the corner, we need to be careful. Let those that name the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. Let us show love to one another and avoid those things that might cause great pain to the Lord of the Church.
Ven. Barr. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,