BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Abuja has emphatically stated that the greatest wolf in the Church today is tribalism and ethnicity. This, he added, is also the case in Nigeria.
Primate Okoh made this known at the Diocesan valedictory service held in his honour at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life camp, Abuja.
The Diocesan opined that if the Church and the nation, Nigeria could overcome tribalism and ethnicity, then it would move forward. He read out the vision of the Diocese of Abuja, highlighting the aspects which state that the “Diocese shall be a place where all people from the East, West, North and South are comfortably at home”. He stressed that the tribe of heaven must supersede that which is here on earth and prayed that God would deliver His Church from ethnicity and tribalism.
Archbishop Okoh urged Christians to avoid factionalizing along carnal lines and do everything to promote peace in the Church of God. He said believers must do things for the glory of God and not for sectional interests.
Teaching on the topic, “Take heed unto yourselves and to the flock”, the head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria admonished Church leaders to equip the flock of Christ and guard them against wolves in sheep’s clothing. He decried the trend, where leaders in the Church have begun to promote doctrines and teachings that are not Biblical and lamented the loss of the fear of God in the Church. He said some shepherds have failed in their duties and have destroyed the Church of God to promote their own fantasies; adding that those who ought to correct ills in the Church, now recruit others to join them in their acts of evil and cause confusion in the Church. Therefore, he charged Christians and the Church to beware of persons who pervert the truth that is in the word of God.
According to him, “You cannot baptize sin; sin is sin and it is evil before God. Those who fail to repent will bear the consequences.”
Primate Okoh admonished leaders to first of all watch over their own lives, their words, thoughts and actions. This, he said, they must do, not in comparison with anybody, but in relationship with God who is the ultimate judge. He urged elders in the Church to ensure that they are blameless before God, not before themselves or others; adding that when Church leaders continue in the right teaching, they would save themselves from damnation and others who are following their example.
The cleric charged Christians not to be Biblical illiterates, so that they are not easily deceived with half-truths or heresies. He encouraged believers to be diligent and on guard as sheep in the midst of wolves; explaining that they are responsible for themselves and their destinies. He said the only defense mechanism is for the Church to promote the truth of the word of God and for Christians to know the truth.
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh concluded his message with a flashback of his journey in ministry, from as far back as when he was in the Nigerian army and thanked God who saw him and his family through all of lives’ challenges. He also appreciated individuals who supported his ministry and prayed extensively for the Diocese and her members.