By OGBENI LA

Today, I write about a certain man of God in one the Christian faith denomination around. I had a heated argument within me trying to determine whether I should reveal the identity of this particular church or not. My regular instinct does not even have the patience for such inner debate. But I desire not to heat up the already charged religious polity whereas my primary objective is to merely expose the questionable yardstick for our value system.

So a man whom for the purpose of this story we shall address as Bro Joe is a dedicated man of God by all Nigerian standard. He has served in the vineyard of the Lord for quite some years. Of course, this selfless service comes with perks especially the prospect of becoming an ordained pastor some day. I want to believe this is standard practice except God fancies you and ‘calls’ you himself. Therefore, it is only fair to put it that Bro Joe’s ambition was not inordinate. He was reasonable. But some day never came for Bro Joe after many years of ‘apprenticeship’. Something was apparently wrong for Bro Joe was an acclaimed devout even within the parish congregation. Younger brothers that joined the vineyard after him have all being posted to new parishes as pastors. God didn’t ‘promote’ Joe (at least that’s the impression the church hierarchy gave)

After Joe’s donkey years of service in the vineyard, God must have been telling the Church elders something inaudible to the rest of us sinners to warrant his stagnation in the ladder. But as it interestingly turned out and quite sadly too, God didn’t ‘call’ Bro Joe because he was not literate! Apparently, the ability to communicate in simple good English language does not qualify Bro Joe as a literate. God wanted his Bachelor’s Degree certificate too. As soon as Bro found this was what his ‘promotion’ delay was all about, he set out to right the wrong no matter what the price.

Bro Joe began a full time degree course at the Federal University of Technology, Akure in Ondo state. This was some distance from his church in Abeokuta, Ogun state where he remained as active as ever. The five years he spent to obtain the degree certificate was spent shuttling between the two states. He’d spend the first half of each week for the church in Ogun state and the other half for the school in Ondo state. I guess since it was God that wanted him to have it, the Almighty, as a matter of duty saw him through the program. We can not say otherwise for Bro Joe never missed a test or assignment during the five years. Not even a single carry over. He passed out in flying colours.

Everyone was happy for Bro Joe turned Pastor Joe. Everyone that is, except his friend whom we shall call Mr Killjoy. Not that Killjoy was unhappy per se. But he had the nerve to question God’s awesomeness and Bro Joe’s credibility. Mr Killjoy was the one that housed Bro Joe in that five years of studying in the University. According to him, he has never caught Bro Joe with a course note through out the latter’s stay with him in those five years and it beats him hollow how Joe made his Second Class Upper.

What ensued between Bro Joe who was unimpressed by the question mark put on his integrity by his friend, Mr Killjoy is another story for another lesson. But the lesson here is clear. You don’t need an ouija board to tell you that Pastor Joe must have been ‘generous’ to some lecturers during the span of his studies in the desperation to meet the value-system of his Christian faith denomination. Do you think such value-system is excusable if it breeds corrupt practices even among those who are supposed to be models to the pew? What moral justification would a Pastor Joe possess to preach ‘to reach out’ to the lady prostituting her body for marks from the lecturer?

I could reel out more scenarios Pastor Joe has no moral justification to poke his contaminated nose into. Something I can not comprehend is wrong with our value system. We put value on vanity. We succumb to undue pressure to impress people we do not care for. We use the money we don’t have to purchase the goods and services we don’t need. We wilfully make ourselves contestants in the rat race. Yet wining the rat race doesn’t mean you’re no longer a rat.

What exactly is the worth of the church’s value system?

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