(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
According to the Rt. Rev. Chidi Oparaojiaku, Bishop of Ohaji/Egbema diocese, the church today is far behind on its major assignment and mandate of making disciples of every nation, because many churches not only focus on other secondary assignments, but most alarmingly are filled with people who do not consider themselves disciples or followers of Jesus Christ. He made this known while delivering his charge at the 3rd Session of the Third Synod held at St. Patrick’s Church Assa Ohaji in Imo State.
Speaking on the theme for the Synod, “Mission as never before”, the Diocesan said mission is the primary task of the Christian Church and the Church exists by mission.
Quoting Keith Giles, who described the American Church as “largely focused on providing goods and services, light Christian entertainment, inspirational sermons, emotionally – charged worship sets, and a variety of programs designed to keep families with teens and young children coming back week after week”, the Bishop said this is true for many Nigerian Churches.
He pointed out that the vision of God is global evangelization; explaining that it is the duty of disciples to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all creatures, first by making them believers, and next becoming disciples. According to him, many Christians forget that they are pilgrims on earth, hence they remain focused on earthly rewards and relaxed in their earthly status. He added that preachers who ought to remind believers of their pilgrim status or of eternity, shift their sermons away from topics on death, resurrection after death and eternal reward.
The Cleric said, “Preachers must present, not book reviews, politics, economics, current politics of the day, not a philosophy of life denying the bible and based upon improving theories of science, but the word. Not one’s own ideas, the ideas of other men, philosophy, psychology, self-image, self- righteousness, ego-boasters or man-made religion.”
Bishop Oparaojiaku explained that God’s call is for all believers to preach the word of God to the ends of the earth; in season and out of season, when convenient and when inconvenient and to every race, irrespective of social status or classification. He stressed that nothing should be a hindrance to the preaching of the word of God; adding that Christians should not wait for people to come to them before telling them about Jesus, but rather go out and preach to these people in their own environment.
He stated that it is the responsibility and assignment of every Christian to be faithful in preaching the word of God as it is written and as inspired by the Holy Spirit; because the word is sufficient to transform any individual, without the use of human strategies or manipulation.
The Bishop of Ohaji/Egbema explained that the Church in her mission is to serve human beings without distinction and whatever their need; bear witness to the truth as revealed in Jesus by preaching the authentic gospel and living as Christ did while on earth; promote the integrity of families and communal life style; defend the defenceless; and demonstrate the reality of God’s unmerited grace by practicing forgiveness, sharing of resources, eliminating injustice, and exercising power as servanthood, not as domination and control.
The Rt. Rev. Chidi Oparaojiaku concluded by debunking the misconception that evangelism is an expression of hatred to non-Christians; explaining that evangelism expresses the love of Christ, warns people of danger and offers them liberation from sin. He said mission is a collective mandate and commission to Christians all over the world and they should not fail God and the expecting world.