Discipling & Discipleship (Part One)
Discipleship Is a Command:
The imperative of the Great Commission is Discipleship. The primary verb used by Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:19, 20 (known as the Great Commission) is “Make Disciples.” It was Jesus’ final Commandment before His ascension. This is the focus of His followers and should be the focus of the Church today.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying; All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
The Biblical definition of a Disciple:
A disciple is a person-in-process eager to learn and apply the truths that Jesus is teaching him. These truths result in an ever-deepening commitment to a Christ-like lifestyle and a life of winning and discipling others. Most believers in our churches today do not read and study the Bible; they wait for someone to tell them what to believe.
The Bible is the Spirit’s tool to bring conviction into the disciple’s life. If people are not “in” the Bible, the Bible will never get “into” them, and they will never grow to spiritual maturity. “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go to perfection (maturity).” – Hebrews 6:1a, NIV. As you begin your journey in spiritual formation, it is essential to understand that God has a mission for you and every other believer to fulfill.
The Mission of a Disciple:
The mission for every disciple is spelled out in the Scriptures:
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments stand all the Law and the Prophets (emphasis added). Matthew 22:37-40
According to these verses, there are two things to focus on so that they become tangible realities in our lives:
- The Great Commandment (love God): In the Song of Solomon, we are reminded that God desires a “bridal relationship” (an intimate, loving relationship) with His children. This two-way love is developed and deepened day by day in several ways.
- The Bible. As we read and study God’s Holy Word, He speaks and reveals Himself to us tenderly and affectionately. He conveys how very much He accepts us and loves us unconditionally.
- Prayer. We respond to God’s initiatives by speaking to Him of our love for Him. Just as a bride and groom communicate their love for one another, we do so in our communion with God. Israel was called the Father’s Bride; the Church in the New Testament is referred to as the Bride of Christ.
- Spending time devotionally in the Bible, praying, and “…psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” comprise our spiritual fulfillment of the Great Commandment to love God with our hearts, souls, and minds. Our entire being, our very lives, become spiritual sacrifices of worship.
2. The Great Commission (love your neighbor): This second summary commandment from Matthew focuses on the mission to which each of us is called.
In the natural course of life, God brings people into our lives – some unbelievers and others already children of God. We are to relate to each of these types of people in one of two ways.
- Evangelism. If those we meet do not yet know Jesus Christ personally, we reach out to them with the gospel message to bring them to faith in Christ. Jesus promised to make us “fishers of men.” This is how we love the lost.
- Disciple making. If our neighbor is already a follower of the Savior and is not mature in his/her faith, we are to be involved in some fashion in helping him/her reach maturity and “grow up” in the faith.
The Discipleship Dilemma:
There is an assumption among Christians that “No one ever discipled me, so I don’t know how to disciple others.” This is perhaps the single greatest need for churches around the world. This need could be alleviated if church leaders themselves were making disciples. Most of them, however, have never been discipled; therefore, they are unsure what to do to disciple anyone else.
Their preoccupation becomes building the local Church and administering its programs rather than raising disciples capable of helping new converts establish a daily personal relationship with God. We try to compensate by simply placing new believers in church services, which is equivalent to putting a five-year-old child in a college class, hoping that if they sit there long enough, they will learn something.
However, most don’t, since more is “caught than taught” in the faith. That is why the emphasis in Scripture is laid on imitating others. Our natural children learn by imitating us; our spiritual children must do the same. Churches around the world have become “a mile wide and an inch deep,” with their members merely attending only to exterior religious practices and neglecting the internal things of the heart, soul, and Spirit. In the illustration above, our five-year-old would need to be in a school with a graded curriculum. Here, they could learn numbers, the alphabet, colors, and how to function in a group setting.
The child would learn how words are formed from letters and how to add and subtract numbers. This allows him to read, write, and do simple calculations. Then come the parts of speech, grammar, and so on. This is a similar process for spiritual babes.
Keys to Becoming a Disciple:
- Ask for God’s Help: If we don’t ask for His help, the Holy Spirit will not force His way into our lives and violate the free will God has given us. So, as you pray, ask for the Holy Spirit’s daily help in your walk with God.
- Seek Direction in God’s Word: The Holy Spirit’s tool to aid our growth is God’s Word. Every day, we need to prioritize a program that includes Bible reading, Bible study, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word. This allows God to give us the instructions we need and allows the Spirit Spirit to bring conviction to these truths.
- Make Application as the Spirit brings Conviction: We must begin making Application of revealed truths so they can take root and bear practical fruit in our lives. Thus, we become doers of the Word and not just hearers of the Word. Otherwise, as James clearly reminds us, we are deceiving ourselves (thinking we know what the text is all about). “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22
- Obey to Experience Transformation: Through obedience and Application of God’s Word, our lives are transformed—we become new creations, controlled not by our flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Our lives begin to display the Fruit of the Spirit.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17. But the fruit of the SpiritSpirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
- Obey to Experience Joy and Maturity: Our obedience also ensures we become disciples and leads us toward making disciples of others. You can be assured that some obedient disciples are ready and able to train you if you desire. Ask God to lead you to someone who can assist you. The Spirit of God uses more mature disciples to help younger Christians mature in Christ. Once you have a discipler in your life, please avail yourself of all the training possible, and give it the priority it deserves in your life. Be honest and transparent with God and your discipler, as well as accountable, so the principles God is building in you become evident to all men. Purpose in your heart to be a finisher, and do not allow the devil to sideline you short of all God has for you. This will produce the joy of the Holy Spirit and make your life attractive to others around you. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Definition of Discipleship:
The Word DISCIPLE comes from the Greek word “Mathetes,” which means Learner. It implies a student/teacher relationship and necessitates the disciple’s adopting his teacher’s philosophy, teaching, and practices. Jesus had this in mind when He called men to follow Him.
He wanted men to leave their sinful way of living and adopt His new teaching, philosophy, practices, and lifestyle. The learning progress of the disciples was not evaluated by their retention of information or knowledge taught; it was demonstrated in their daily lives. The disciples were taught the true meaning of the commandments and how to fulfill them each day by imitating Jesus. Paul said it differently but hit at the same idea or issue. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The World’s Standard for Discipleship:
By the world’s standards, a person is considered a good Christian if he goes to Church for an hour every Sunday, tries to live a good life, and is kind to others. Some Christians tend to create their discipleship standards and create God in their own image rather than allowing God to transform them into His likeness. Since the Scriptures are not all that important to them, they fail to realize that God has His standards for discipleship.
Jesus’ Standard for Discipleship:
Jesus was very clear about His standards for discipleship. Certain things were to characterize the life of every follower of Christ. Without these, Jesus said, a man could not be His disciple.
- Continues in God’s Word: A disciple is characterized by a continuance of living out his life (or abiding) in the Word of God. This is seen in John’s Gospel. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” John 8:31
In God’s standard, the Scriptures are of supreme importance since they reveal God and His will for us. If we are to continue in His Word, we must incorporate the various fingers of the Word Hand into our personal lives. Since Satan knows the value of the Word to strengthen us in our battle against him, he is forever trying to see that we have no time to read or study God’s Word. Are you winning the battle?
- Loves Others: A disciple is characterized by his love for others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you love one another”. John 13:34,35
One of the distinguishing marks of every disciple is the love he has for other people. Jesus was not just talking about loving other Christians; He was talking about all men. The tensions that exist between Christians to say nothing of those that exist between non-Christians, make one wonder how well we are keeping this commandment. If we are to follow Jesus’s standard for discipleship to bring this area under the Lordship of Christ, we need to resolve our differences so we can love people.
3. Bears Much Fruit: A disciple is fruitful – both in the fruit of the SpiritSpirit and in the winning and discipling of others. “By this, My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so, you will be my disciples” – John 15:8. The fruit John is primarily talking about is the people who come to Christ as a result of our witness. Are you asking God to give you men and women to win and disciple so that there will be fruit in your life? We should be concerned with the fruits of evangelism and the fruits of the Spirit listed for us in Galatians. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law”. Galatians 5:22,23. The Spirit of God is always trying to make these fruits a reality.
4. Puts God First: A disciple must put God above all other people – even oneself! “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” – Luke 14:26. In some instances, it is easy to put God before others. But Jesus says we must place Him before others and above ourselves. This is a somewhat more challenging task. But if we do not, we cannot be Jesus’s disciples.
5. Bears His Cross: A disciple must not allow anything or interest to hinder him from obediently following Christ. “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” – Luke 14:27.
When Jesus talks about putting God first in our lives, He brings us to a place where there is a cross. On that cross, we must put our dreams and aspirations to death and replace them with His will. God can then redirect our lives so that He can live out His will for us in our bodies. This is more of a cross for some people than it is for others. It means a radical change to some, while to others, it is only a minor correction. But to each, it represents a cross because it means the death of our wills and the doing of His. Jesus says a person cannot be His disciple unless willing to bear that cross. Are you willing?
6. Forsakes the Old Sinful Ways: A disciple must forsake all the old ways of his life to follow Jesus. “So, likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” – Luke 14:33. In this passage, Jesus rules out a double standard for discipleship. He did not say we must be willing to forsake all we have. He did not say there would be a watered-down form of discipleship for all who refused to pay the price. He said, “…whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
November 27th is a special day for me because of the birth of my first grandchild (a daughter). November 27, 2023, is very important because my first grandchild, my granddaughter turns Eighteen (18) Years.
My Birthday Wishes and Greetings to Moyo:
Happy 18th birthday to my extraordinary and beautiful granddaughter! As you embark on this remarkable journey into adulthood, may each moment be as special and unique as the wonderful person you’ve become. May you catch dreams as effortlessly as you catch smiles, and may your 18th year be filled with joy, love, and unforgettable adventures. You are my first grandchild leading a pack Nine, a role model in Intelligence, Moral Values, and Christian Attributes to your siblings and cousins. Here’s to embracing the magic of adulthood and cherishing the uniqueness that makes you shine. Happy birthday, my darling granddaughter, and may your path ahead be as bright and beautiful as you are! Congratulations darling!
Love Always from Grandma.
Sermon Based on 1 Peter 4: 7-11
Theme: Grace of Fellowship as we Live with Purpose in the End Times
I am exploring a passage from the letter of Peter, a message filled with wisdom and guidance for believers navigating the challenges of their time. Turn with me to 1 Peter 4:7-11, and let’s dive into the Word of God together.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV)
Living with Purpose:
Recognizing the Urgency (Verse 7):
Peter begins with a powerful statement: “The end of all things is at hand.” In every generation, believers have lived expecting Christ’s return. This awareness should shape our lives, prompting us to live intentionally, knowing that time is short. We are called to be self-controlled and sober-minded, grounded in Prayer as we navigate a world filled with distractions and challenges.
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins (Verse 8):
Peter emphasizes the transformative power of love. In a world marked by division and strife, the love of Christ manifested through us can bridge gaps and cover sins. Our love for one another is not merely a suggestion but a command that reflects the love God has lavished upon us.
Practicing Hospitality (Verse 9):
Hospitality is not just about entertaining guests; it’s about welcoming others with open hearts. Peter challenges us to show hospitality without grumbling, highlighting the importance of a gracious attitude. Through hospitality, we reflect God’s open arms to a needy world.
Using Our Gifts to Serve (Verses 10-11):
God has endowed each believer with unique gifts, not for personal gain but for the service of others. Peter encourages us to be good stewards of God’s grace, using our gifts to build up the Body of Christ. Whether through words or deeds, we are to serve with the strength God provides, acknowledging that all glory and dominion belong to Him.
Emphasis on Verses 7 & 8:
“The end of all things has come near; therefore, be of sound and sober sound mind for prayer.” That is to be: Serious, Prayerful, Loving, Hospitable, Serving, and Worshipful
The Three Sub-Themes:
1. The Priority and the Protection of Love
2. Desiring God
3. Living on the Edge of Eternity
Our Mandate is to grow and be like Christ and to see that God is glorified in all we do.
PASSAGE MAIN IDEA (Central Proposition of the Text):
Living with a healthy expectancy of Christ’s return should motivate the Christian to be in constant Fellowship with God (pray, love, and serve unto the Glory of God).
A. What is Fellowship?
B. What is Grace?
C. What does ‘Grace of Fellowship’ indeed imply?
A. What is Fellowship?
The other related words for Fellowship are Companionship, Comradeship, Friendship, Partnership, and Association. God wants to be our friend, our companion, and our partner. He wants to participate in all our endeavors and decisions on earth. – 1 John 1:3 (To be read by someone). John says, “Truly our Fellowship is (not was) with the Father and His Son.
B. What is Grace?
The dictionary meaning of grace differs from the Definition of God’s Grace.
Grace, according to the Dictionary, connotes:
- Elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
- A pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
- Favor or goodwill.
- A manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean’s grace that I wasn’t expelled from school.
- Mercy, compassion, pardon: He was saved by grace from the Rector.
A prominent Old Testament word describing God’s grace is Chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation.
Definition of God’s Grace – How do theologians define it?
In the New Testament, Grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him'” (2 Corinthians 5:21).1
“Grace may be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation.” – Enns2
Definition of God’s Grace – What does the Bible say?
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24).
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast, for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
C. Grace of Fellowship
In Fellowship, the tripartite nature of man must be involved – 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
- The first step towards Fellowship with God is ‘Repentance’ from Iniquities.
- The second step is Quite Time – Mark 1:35; Every Christian needs to know God personally – This is the act of Fellowship.
_ Prayer is a tool of Communication
– Word of God, 1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” Logos is the Word of God, and Rhema is the Living Word of God that jumps into your peculiar situation, and you can apply it to yourself to attune to the Will of God
The three essential things needed in fellowshipping with God are:
- Exposure – 1 Peter 1: 23-2:1: It is essential to be exposed to God through daily communion and Scripture reading.
- Passion – Desire for God – Matt. 7: 33-36, Jesus must become your rock, way, and Life.
- Experience with the Living God brings about miracles in your Life. Examples of Moses, Abraham – Gen. 24:12-15, Isaac – Gen. 26:2, Jacob – Gen. 32:30, Samuel – Jer. 15:1, David – Psalm 36: 5-9
Fellowship with God includes but is not limited to (1 John 1: 5-7)
- Hearing God’s Word
- Obeying God’s Word – James 1:22
- Staying or Abiding in God’s Word
Some tasks are involved in Fellowship with God:
- Singing of songs, hymns, and chanting Psalms
- Reading, Studying, and Meditating on the Scripture
- Applying the Word of Scripture to daily Life
- Prayer of Adoration, Confession & repentance, Thanksgiving, Supplication – intercessory, petition and warfare
- Preaching the Word (Gospel Sharing)
- Witnessing & Making Disciples for Christ
The Premise for Having Fellowship with God:
- God is Light – Ephesians 5:8-10
- In Him, there is no Darkness at All – 1 John 1:9
- Fellowship with God requires an Advocate – 1 John 2:1-2
Fellowship with God brings us to the same conclusion Apostle Paul reached when he wrote Romans 8:38-3: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us imbibe the Apostles and remain in Christ. Spiritual Growth can only occur as we learn to know Christ and make Jesus our Savior and the Lord of every part of our Life.
As we contemplate these words from Peter, let us commit ourselves to living with purpose and intentionality. The end times may be upon us, but we do not shrink back in fear. Instead, we press forward in faith, fueled by love, hospitality, and the use of our God-given gifts for His glory. May we be a community that embodies the transformative power of Christ’s love, drawing others into the Kingdom as we eagerly await His return.
Let’s pray, seeking God’s guidance and strength to live out these truths daily. Happy Sunday!
Philosophical Discourse on Christianity as a Catalyst to Socioeconomic & Political Development in Nigeria (Part Three)
The third and final series of a chapter published in Prof. Rotimi Omotoye’s 60th birthday Festschrift book is my writing and contribution as a chapter in the Festschrift. The Paper is re-adapted in American English.
Omotoye, Rotimi Williams is a professor of Christian Studies; his areas of specialization are Church History, African Christianity, Pentecostal Churches, Ecumenical Movement, and Inter-Religious Relations at the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He represents the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the University of Ilorin and the University of Georgia, Athens. He is the author of several books and has been published in many national and international scholarly journals.
Christianity as a Catalyst to Socioeconomic & Political Developments in Nigeria From Philosophy of Religion Perspective:
The philosophical study of religious beliefs and practices is evident in the earliest recorded philosophy, east and West. In the West, throughout Greco-Roman philosophy and the Medieval era, philosophical contemplation on God, gods, reason and faith, the soul, and the afterlife was not considered a branch called “philosophy of religion.” The philosophy of God was one component among many interwoven philosophical projects. Philosophical inquiry with religious themes and the broader enterprises of philosophy: political theory, epistemology, et al.) is apparent among early modern philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and George Berkeley. Only gradually do we find texts devoted exclusively to religious themes.
The first use of the term “Philosophy of Religion” in English occurs in the 17th-century work of Ralph Cudworth. Cudworth and his Cambridge University colleague Henry More produced philosophical work on religion. In that case, there are good reasons for claiming that it began (gradually) in the mid-17th century (Taliaferro 11). Much of the subject matter treated by Cudworth and More is continuous with the current philosophy of religion (arguments about God’s existence, the significance of religious pluralism, and the nature of good and evil about God. Many of the terms in current circulation originated in Cudworth’s and his colleagues’ work (they coined the terms theism, materialism, and consciousness).
Today, philosophy of religion is a robust, intensely active area of philosophy. Almost without exception, any introduction to philosophy text in the Anglophone world includes some philosophy of religion. The importance of the philosophy of religion is chiefly due to its subject matter: alternative beliefs about God (Theism/Atheism), the sacred, the varieties of religious experience, the interplay between science and religion, the challenge of non-religious philosophies, the nature and scope of good and evil, religious treatments of birth, history, and death, and other substantial terrains.
Christianity is one of the three Monotheistic Religions; the Others are Judaism & Islam. So, Christianity is an essential area of the Philosophy of Religion that addresses embedded social and personal practices. Therefore, the philosophy of religion is relevant to practical concerns, and its subject matter is not an all-abstract theory. Given the vast percentage of the world population that is either aligned with religion or affected by religion, the philosophy of religion has a secure role in addressing people’s actual values and commitments. A chief reference point in much religious philosophy is the shape and content of living traditions. In this way, the philosophy of religion may be informed by the other disciplines that study religious life.
Another reason behind the importance of the field is its breadth. A third reason is historical. One cannot undertake a credible history of philosophy without taking the philosophy of religion seriously. Theology also benefits from the philosophy of religion in at least two areas. Historically, theology has often drawn upon or been influenced by philosophy, and Platonism and Aristotelianism have significantly influenced the articulation of classical Christian doctrine. In the modern era, theologians have often drawn on work by philosophers (from Hegel to Heidegger and Derrida). Another benefit lies in philosophy’s clarifying, evaluating, and comparing religious beliefs.
Therefore, establishing Christianity as a catalyst for Nigeria’s socioeconomic & political development is vital to the Philosophy of Religion Perspective. Religion is a Phenomenon to an African believer. Philosophy of Religion enhances communication between traditions and between religions and secular institutions. When reflecting, one feels constrained to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; one deserves to be called a Theist, (Collins 99).” Francis Schaefer once said Christianity is not merely religious Truth; it is the Truth about reality. Politics tends to reflect Culture, not the other way around.
Most people think national politics is the only way to effect cultural change. Today, battle-weary political warriors have grown more realistic about the limits of that strategy. Politics is downstream from Culture, not the other way around. Real change has to start with the Culture. Getting involved in politics is not the fastest route to moral reform. The most effective work is done by ordinary Christians fulfilling God’s calling to reform Culture within their local spheres of influence: their families, churches, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, professional organizations, and civil institutions. To effect a lasting change, “we must develop a Christian worldview.” Christianity introduced the Christian worldview to the socioeconomic and political landscape.
The change in youths should start by training them to develop a biblical worldview instead of restricting Christianity to a specialized area of religious belief and personal devotion. The undertow of influential cultural trends pulls down young people. A “heart” religion will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need” brain” religion training in worldview and apologetics – to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they encounter when they leave home. Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment. The first step in forming a Christian worldview is to overcome the sharp divide between “heart” and “brain.” We must reject the division of life into a sacred realm limited to things like worship and personal morality over a secular realm that includes Science, Politics, Philosophy, Economics, and the rest of the public arena.
Pearcey says, “Modern Societies are sharply divided into Private and Public Spheres (Pearcey 20.)” The Private Sphere has personal preferences, and the Public Sphere contains scientific knowledge. She claims “values have been reduced to arbitrary, existential decisions: where values mean Individual Choice and Facts are binding on everyone.
The role of Christianity in the sustainable development of Nigeria is commendable. The Christian religion is a reliable institution providing stepping stones to sustainable socioeconomic and political development. According to Sanneh, “Although they were little prepared for it, the churches found themselves as the only viable structure remaining after the breakdown of state institutions, and as such had to shoulder a disproportionate burden of the problems of their societies (Sanneh 15).” According to (Mbiti 262), religion, more than anything else, colors the understanding of the universe and their empirical participation in it, making life a profoundly religious phenomenon.
To be is to be religious in a religious universe, and that is the philosophical understanding behind African myths, customs, traditions, beliefs, morals, actions, and social relationships. Africans eat, dance, trade, and organize their societies religiously, but this is done holistically, without any dichotomy of the material and the spiritual. Since Africans are “incurably religious, (Parrinder 27-28).” (Ogbonnaya 74) says, “From the days of the missionaries to the present, the church in Africa has focused its development strategy in two areas: education and healthcare.”
Christian faith-based organizations (FBOs), like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), contribute to the sustainable development of Nigeria in many ways (Odumosu et al.). In the face of the Nigerian state’s weakness and its institutions’ inefficiency in providing human goods to its citizens, faith-based organizations (FBOs) supplement and complement the government’s efforts toward improving the standard of living of Nigerians.
Of these FBOs in Nigeria, over 46,000 are involved in pro-poor, charitable works that alleviate poverty, promote progress, and serve as development agents. According to (Olarinmoye 15), “FBOs in Nigeria provide health and educational services through their hospitals, clinics and maternities, schools and colleges, vocational training centers, seminaries and universities. They own economic institutions like bookshops, hotels, banks, insurance, mass media, and ICT companies.
They are prominent real estate owners in the form of sacred cities and prayer camps covering thousands of hectares of land. The lands on which their hospitals, schools, and orphanages are also situated make up part of their real estate portfolio, (Olarinmoye 15).” The main Christian FBOs include Christian Rural and Urban Development of Nigeria (CRUDAN), the Justice and Peace Caritas Organization (JDPC), the Urban Ministry, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CHAN), and the People Oriented Development (POD) of ECWA, (Odumosu et al.,).”
JDPC, a Pontifical Council guided by the Church’s social teachings, helps Catholic dioceses in policy-making, specifically in areas of social development. It coordinates all programs relating to social welfare, rural, urban, and water development, animating integral development, et cetera (Odumosuet al.). It was established in all the Catholic dioceses of Nigeria, over 99 in number (according to Catholic Hierarchy), and with branches in the parishes and zonal levels (small Christian communities).
The Nigerian Tribune, March 15, 2012, reports that JDPC sinks boreholes for good drinking water for communities, promotes good governance in many ways, and partners with the government to monitor elections. The Punch Newspaper, June 17, 2012, further reports the training of police and prison officers, grants of small-scale loans to farmers and traders and providing housing, building hospitals, constructing and equipping schools, advocates for widows, women, unjustly imprisoned, et cetera.
Christianity has been intricately intertwined with the historical formation of Western society. Christianity, therefore, was a significant source of social services like education, healthcare, Art, Culture, and Philosophy and an influential player in politics. Christianity made an impactful impact in South Nigeria as a result of Western education. Western education gave the South a far range in terms of educational, & socioeconomic development.
The north was more Islamic and into Arabic studies. The Political Development of the northerners was not independent because the people could not make up their minds and choose political leaders like the western-educated South. Instead, the Emirs and the Elites dictated to innocent people of the north because they fed them regularly. Whereas in the western region, people could argue with their Obas, read political manifestoes & make an independent choice of parties and candidates. Religious beliefs matter for economic outcomes. Christian principles reinforce character traits such as hard work, honesty, thrift, and the value of time; the core teachings, dogma, & doctrines of Christianity strengthen individuals, families, communities, and society. The doctrines foreclose & discourage major social problems such as out-of-wedlock births, abortion, drug and alcohol addiction, and Abuse: Physical, Emotional, Sexual & Neglect. Research reveals that religiosity reduces suicide rates, alcoholism, and drug use (NAMI, Dec.21, 2016).
Afannamuefuna, A. You are the Problem of Nigeria, Port-Harcourt. Allwell Publishing Company, 2006.
Anjorin, A. O. “The Background to the Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 in ODU”, Ife Journal of African Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 1967, p.72.
Awolalu, J. O. and Dopamu, P.A. West African Traditional Religion. Ibadan Onibonoje Press and Book Industries (Nig) Ltd., 1979.
Bailey, S. H. and Gunn, M. J. Smith and Bailey on The Modern English Legal System. 2nd edition, London Sweet & Maxwell, 1991.
Ballard, J. A., “Administrative Origins of Nigerian Federalism” Journal of the Royal African Society, vol. 70, no. 279,1971, p.333.
Cf. Catholic Hierarchy, http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/dng.html
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Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Civil Government: An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government, from Two Treaties of Government (1690). PLaslelett, P., 2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 1967.
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NAMI, Dec.21, 2016 (National Alliance on Mental Illness for Nigeria), the Secular nature affects wholesome obedience to Christian doctrines.
Odumosu, Olakunle et al. Religions and Development Research Programme: Mapping the Activities of Faith-based Organizations in Development in Nigeria. Ibadan Nigeria Institute of Social and Economic Research, 2009.
Ogbonnaya, Joseph. “The Church in Africa: Salt of the Earth,” Stan Chu Ilo et. al., ed., The Church as Salt and Light: Path to an African Ecclesiology of Abundant Life. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2011.
Ojo, A. Constitutions and Constitutional changes since Independence. Atanda J. A and Aliyu A. Y.(ed.) Proceedings of the National Conference on Nigeria since Independence, (1984:346) cited in Bamgbose, J. Adele, Nigeria in West Africa: A Powerful, or Powerless State? In Asaju, D. F. Ekiyor, H. A. and Lawal, M. O. (eds) Studies in Nigerian Development. Lagos, Irede Printers, 2006.
Olarinmoye, Omobolaji, “Accountability in Faith-Based Development Organizations in Nigeria: Preliminary Explorations,” Global Economic Governance Programme. GEG Working Paper 2011/67, p.15.
Omoregbe, Joseph, Metaphysis Without Tears: A Systematic and Historical Study, Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Publishers Ltd., 2011
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St Augustine. The City of God, Book III, par. 28. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1998.
Punch Newspaper, June 17, 2012, reports, “JDPC trains police, prison officers.”
Sanneh, Lamin. Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West, Grand Rapids. Michigan William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.
Taliaferro, Charles. Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and Religion since the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge University Press, 2005.
The Tribune, a national daily newspaper in Nigeria, reports this headline in its March 12, 2012 edition, “JDPC commissions five boreholes in Irewole communities.” Nigerian Tribune, March 15, 2012,