The  Religious Mentality in Africa Specifically in Nigeria

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Christian perspective, so this might sound like gibberish to non-believers:

Is it safe to say that by “religious mentality,” you mean people being obsessed with going to church day and night in order to get blessed and be “delivered” or gullibly believing and doing things because their “Daddy in the Lord” said so? If this is correct, the cure that we need is a grace revolution and it is happening already. What many of the pastors here are teaching is not the gospel but something totally different that is driven by fear – fear of God’s judgment.

This preaching of a different gospel, powered by wicked or just plain ignorant church leaders, is the cause of the “religious mentality” of most churchgoers, and not just in Nigeria. Getting the message of Christ right is the cure. Right believing always produces right living.

Some answers have highlighted churchgoers’ laziness and total dependence on “manna from heaven” as the key factor in this equation; I beg to differ on this. Many pastors here, especially those operating megachurches, will never tell you to expect something from being lazy, eat grass or do anything as comical. Some have post-graduate degrees from STEM fields. Scientists. They preach strongly on “the one who does not work must not eat” alongside the value of a good education as a means of self-improvement. Their sheep believe strongly in this, to the extent of thinking that God will be angry with them if they do not “maximise every opportunity” to learn and earn, yet this “religious mentality” persists. My parents and I partook of the Kool Aid for a long, long time- it does not discriminate based on how industrious a person is or her level of education.

Herein lies the problem: people who believe in God are being deceived into having a wrong opinion of God. The preachers of this wrong opinion are very moral, preach strongly against sin, are all for righteousness and always seem like they just finished having lunch with Jesus. But their own method of attaining righteousness is not by what Christ has done but what you must do, a direct contradiction of God’s word. See Romans 5:19.

For instance, giving. The very popular situation where a preacher puts you on edge with “time-bound” donations, makes you feel like you lost something and are now prey to the devil because you missed a “special anointing service” or asks you to “sow a seed now” so that God can owe you a job or a house. People actually borrow money in order to comply with their timelines. With their bank details flashing on TV screens, such preachers usually say things like “There’s a special window open for anyone who gives or pledges such and such amount of money right now. Now. Right now. The window is about to close now so hurry. You don’t want to miss God’s goodness and mercy at this special time. Going, going, gone!” But wait a minute! The popular Psalms 23 says “…goodness and mercy shall pursue me…” when “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and not when we sow a seed! You who cannot pledge their very specific amounts feel like you have missed an opportunity for God to bless you. In essence, they lie that God blessing you depends on your own ability to give.

While this may apply to people that are under the law, it isn’t so for we who are in Christ (under the New Covenant of grace) where we receive all things FREELY from God (Romans 8:32.) Yet this does not foster laziness.

The give now, or else situation is akin to a parent letting her child spend the night alone in school and without care because the child was not in the place where they agreed for her to be picked up! If the mom cannot find her child, she will ransack the whole school in search of her until she finds her to take her home — goodness and mercy in pursuit of the lost! Her priority is her child’s well-being and happiness. Plus, the child’s ability to be at the right place and at the right time is dependent on the kind of training she is receiving from her parent. To us, Christ says “How much more your Father in heaven!”

Even parental love in its pure form does not breed laziness, waiting for handouts or trying to foist your parents on others as “the only good parent.” Neither does it breed hating others because they have refused to leave their own parents and beliefs for yours as many think believers are wont to do. A child that knows that she is loved will study hard to get good grades and do her best to come out tops in everything. Even employees that know that they are loved are likely to put in their best effort at all times.

But “Christians” with the wrong belief that God is a hard taskmaster that will punish them at every wrong turn and only blesses them because they sowed seed will put in less than the barest minimum and still expect to get paid for their actions; this is not Christianity. The early church were model citizens. Paul,who wrote two-thirds of the new testament, supported himself via Tentmaking while living and preaching in Corinth. Paul’s purpose in working was to set an example for the Christians, desiring that they not become idle in their expectation of the return of Christ, but that they would work to support themselves.

What did you do to make your own parents clothe and feed you with their very best? Would you really withhold care from your own child unless he first fasts for 70 days, even if he was nasty? You will train him up in the way that he should go…and with Christ, we have God who never fails as our Father and Trainer; we can’t but become like Christ. Laziness and “religious mentality” are not among His virtues.

The warped message that is being preached makes you believe that God will let the devil have a go at you when you sin and will not bless unless you “play your part.” This contradicts His word for those in Christ in Romans 8:32 and several other bible verses too.

In Christ, we are not under law but under grace. People are yet to realise that they and that Daddy in the Lord that controls their lives (with the fear of God’s judgment) are saved the same way – by grace through faith– and not because he has paid his dues by being more righteous or because he fasted more. See Eph. 2:8-9.

The cure for this “religious mentality” is right believing and many Nigerians’ hearts are being transformed by the Spirit already. No amount of human effort can do it. When the believing is right, right living will follow.

Toyin Olamide Obire

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