One of the reasons places like Nigeria remain terribly underdeveloped is that seeds are not being planted. Our seeds remain unplanted when our needs have not expanded beyond ourselves and our immediate families.
Yes, everyone and their cousins have a church or are about to start one, thanks to the fact that Nigerians are major givers in church but still, seeds abide alone. The fact that you give tithes and offerings in church does not mean you have planted any seed. Seed planting is not in the mere act of giving but in the spirit of love, that blessings may come to others, not so that blessings may come to you.
Our faith and attendant results are capped by how much we are willing to be a blessing not how much we desire to be blessed.
We have a culture that celebrates the lone beautiful, large castle on a hill surrounded by and perpetuating squalor. We seem to enjoy the contrast created by such sights which only fuel a robbery economy as a matter of course. If nothing is done to lift the whole community, the surrounding environment will do all it can to reduce that lone castle to the true spirit of the lone castle and state of the neighborhood – squalor.
A Christ-like approach is not just to take the money that would have been used to build such mansions and use it to build 10 smaller and simpler homes. That is still operating under a broken and non-generative system. A Christ-like approach elevates the whole neighborhood from squalor to true prosperity. It is enlarging the place of our tents and stretching forth the curtains of our habitations to include others, using the power that multiplies a seed into multiples of itself. This obviously operates outside the scope of finance, capitalism or any other ‘ism and is outside Mammon’s capabilities. It is true sowing and reaping and that is why it is elusive.
When you plant a seed, you do not reap a harvest that is quantitiatively
less than or equal to the original, if conditions are conducive to planting. You reap more. So if I plant the resources that should have built me a castle amidst squalor, it should elevate the whole community while still allowing me to build my castle if I choose to be gated, imprisoned and excluded from the community of human beings.
If I truly plant seeds for the benefit of others, my heart will be open to others and once my heart is open, my home will be open, not closed. Imprisoning myself from the rest of my neighborhood may be an indication of fear driven by the fact that the rest of my neighborhood is in relative squalor. We may call it prudence but Jesus was not prudent enough to exclude himself from the diseased, the broken, the suffering – he was the healer not just the healed and you cannot heal, the power to heal cannot flow through you if you are exclusive, sorry. His “followers” seem to be more prudent than him so they shy away from dirtiness and messiness.
An I better pass my neighbor spirit, a dominant spirit in Nigeria is one where I am the healed one and the one with a nice home and nice cars, sending my children to the ivy league elementary, secondary and tertiary institutions at home and abroad while my neighbor struggles. I will even testify about it in church. This only creates a vicious cycle of fear and ever increasing brokenness. An I better with my neighbor spirit seeks to be a healer and a cleaner, the one restoring the rest of my neighborhood, community and city. As we say in my “company”, Love is the all purpose cleaner. It cleans out fear and all its attendant evils. It causes a ripple effect in the community and is a better way to address security and safety.
Our safety lies not in burglary proofs and electric wire meshes but in a defencelessness that trusts in the One who is Love.
Fear cannot improve safety or anything else. Where there is fear, there can be no love and where there is no love, there can neither be multiplication nor individual and societal transformation à la Jesus. In an atmosphere of fear, there can never be development but perfect love casts out fear. Love rearranges and redesigns our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities and our economies.
When a Cleaner like Christ meets dis-ease, he or she becomes a healer, not just the healed. When a Christ-like one encounters dirtiness they become a cleaner and not just the clean, because the spirit of Christ is one that removes yokes and burdens and reveals beauty, potential, truth and sacredness in others. This is what the world craves. We have enough healed people and mercenary healers and not enough no-strings-attached healers. I don’t know how much filthy lucre Jesus needed or demanded to feed tens of thousands of people and to heal multitudes.
May Christ have more followers in Nigeria and on earth. May He have followers who go beyond enriching themselves and their families or even merely feeding the hungry to transforming individuals, neighborhoods, communities and cities with or without a responsible government.