Times have Changed,Churches Have Changed: The Days of Ichabod (Departed Glory).
I might not have lived long enough to properly narrate church history in Africa but you’d agree with me that it doesn’t require grey hair to tell the difference between light and darkness. My memory can still look back and see those days when Church was Church. Yes those days when Christ was the “theme” of every sermon preached and “making heaven” was the utmost desire of every pastor for his congregants.
But today, sermons are more of a resume of accomplishments than the message of Christ. A preacher will spend 30 minutess from a 60 minutes sermon talking about the places he has traveled to, the miracles he has performed, the number of cars he owns, the magnitude of his church etc etc.
Where are those days when the pastor was an epitome of humility; accessible to both the rich and the poor, visiting the poor members more often than he does the rich. When the glory is present men set their minds on things above not on earthly things (Col 3:3).
Nowadays preachers spend longer periods of time deciding what to wear and preach than they do preparing what to preach. In the days of the glory, men seek God but when the glory departs, men start seeking men. In the days of the glory, the Pastor’s phone number was accessible to everyone and he could respond to emergency calls but in these days of Ichabod, you can’t get direct access to the pastor due to too much protocol and he chooses who to respond to; in most cases giving preference to the wealthy.
We have lost those days when young preachers sought the grace of God’s miraculous power through fasting and prayers. Nowadays how much “Grace” you get is as a result of how much “Seed” you sow.
I am yet to see a repeat of Acts 8:17-24 where Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer and said “your money perish with you” for trying to buy the gift of God with money. These days even robbers and corrupt government officials who embezzle funds are welcome to pay their tithes with no one questioning where that money comes from.
There was respect for titles in those days and anyone who acquired a new title, followed due process. But today anyone can wake up the next morning and decide to upgrade his title by himself. “..It appears if we hang around a little longer before Christ returns, then Evangelicals might end up with Popes one of these days because we’re fast running out of titles” Bishop Noel Jones. And it is not just the fact of having those titles that bothers me it is trying to make a big deal out of them. You dare not give a pastor a higher seat in a meeting where a Bishop is present. We seem to have fallen into the category of the Pharisees as Jesus puts it in Matt 23:6: “they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues… “The Church is supposed to be an institutution. The institution where the principles of the Kingdom of God are taught such that anyone who wants to graduate from that institution by entering into heaven, must learn to walk by the principles of that institution.
The principles are clearly written in the scriptures. For example, “repent of your sins and be baptized every one of you..” (Acts 2:38), “follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no one can see God” (Heb 12:14), “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,..” (1cor 6:9). This is the mission of the Church. Unfortunately, we live in a time when the preacher will dare not preach against sin nor rebuke a member for fear of losing that member. We now pamper the sheep to continue in their sinfulness. But it is better to have a church with 10 members who are heaven bound than 10.000 members on the expressway to hell. It is high time the Church sits back and have a rethink. Let’s ask ourselves how we got to these fallen standards.
Have we gone to the world to copy the world or we have simply allowed the world to come into the Church and corrupt the Church? We are not here to build our own kingdoms (as it appears many are), we’re here to build God’s kingdom. And if the Church of today must speak like the early Church (“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith..” 2Tim 4:7), then we must go back to doing the things we did before the days of Ichabod. “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.” Rev2:5. May the Lord save this generation and bring back His glory to His Church.
Evangelist Gilbert Samba is based in the USA. He is an Evangelist and a journalist with a BSc degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in the University of Buea