The Most Rev. Emmanuel A. S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja diocese and Archbishop of Lokoja province made this observation during the First Session of the Seventh Synod of the Lokoja Anglican diocese which took place at the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, Lokoja. He added that the Bible warns believers of a time such as this when they will be hated by all nations for Christ’s name sake, when many will fall away and betray one another, and when the love of many will grow cold because of increase in lawlessness. He however, pointed out that the one who endures to the end will be saved.
On the choice of the Synod theme, ‘He who has ears to hear let him hear’, the Archbishop said that his aim is primarily to caution against the increasingly flippant, casual and careless attitude to spiritual truths which heaven presents and takes seriously, with the expectation that Christians will do same. He lamented that today, Christianity is being redefined by those who should guard the divine truth in the Holy Bible adding that the concern is no longer, “What does the Scriptures say? But what Bishop A or Papa B, or Pastor C has said. Bishop Egbunu explained that people are not as careful to diligently search the Scriptures for themselves anymore hence their lifestyles are so inconsistent with the priorities of the Bible. “We ease people’s minds where the Lord calls for caution and self-examination, promising peace and safety even when judgment appears imminent; when on the other hand, in these days of post-modernity, pluralism and relativism, we need to encourage sincere seekers to hold on to the truth they have found”, he said.
Archbishop Egbunu pointed out that in all instances in the Bible, the phrase used as the Synod theme is credited exclusively to the Lord Jesus in both His earthly ministry and in His heavenly glory; hence, these words demand serious attention. The Cleric drew the attention of the people to the Scripture where Jesus mentioned that, that which prevents people from hearing and doing the will of God is unwillingness to obey and the reality of competing voices that pressurize them into compromise. He emphasized that Jesus pointed this out to warn believers to pay attention to God rather than to popular opinions that could be misleading adding that in certain parables of Jesus such as that of the Sower, much emphasis is placed on the responsibility of hearing. In other words, he said, individuals have a responsibility not just of what they hear, but how they hear.
According to the Archbishop, it is in remembering what has been heard that believers will not fall into error in the face of strange experiences. Therefore, he advised that a practical way is to memorize Scripture, meditate on the passages they have read, taking sermon notes and reviewing them. Also, he added that understanding comes from God alone hence Christians must seek the help of the Spirit of Christ to understand the Scriptures and apply them correctly. Bishop Egbunu stated that these are times when great Biblical truths are being made to look like fables stating that the ministers of the word must be held responsible for this great betrayal of heavenly trust. The Cleric explained that if a brief survey of the Bible is done, then one would easily discover that the great teachings or doctrines of God, Man, Salvation, Satan, Heaven and Hell have been compromised and the biblical emphasis watered down in a way such that people feel they possess the license to do as they please. Also, Holiness, Righteousness, Divorce and Remarriage, Restitution, and Forgiveness have suffered the same fate.
The Bishop of Lokoja said that the Church in Nigeria is greatly divided among many lines: ethnic, denominational, doctrinal etc. adding that a divided Church is its own worst enemy. He noted that people are picking and choosing which doctrine they prefer; but he called on believers to know that it is more important to be faithful than to be powerful. He continued that this poses a challenge to the budget priorities in the Church today, where whooping amounts of money is spent on things that are not heaven’s projects but mere frivolities. Archbishop Egbunu further stated that even the priests leave out vital aspect of the preparation done during Holy Eucharist, wedding services, baptism, etc. hence, these services have become meaningless to the members of the Church.
Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu concluded that the theme is by no means restricted to the Church only, for the Church is part of a larger society and cannot be detached from the yearnings and aspirations of society. He said that over time political leaders and public servants appear to have redefined their roles and concealed it from those whom they claim to serve. They speak with passion about potentials that could be harnessed to transform the squalor of the people’s slums into the paradise of their dreams, he said, yet when they get to office, the picture changes for them and the electorate. The Archbishop added that corruption has become the order of the day and with it, the recent attacks by the faceless Boko haram sect which he said was further complicated by the controversial state pardon granted to about nine Nigerians. The Cleric called all to note that the Bible is clear about God’s unchanging verdict on those who shed innocent blood from the time of Cain to this day stating that when there is no genuine repentance, the federal government’s amnesty can never amount to divine amnesty. He charged believers to choose to continue on the path of righteousness, lest they be swept away adding that the Lord is coming soon and he who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.
By Ngozi Maduoma