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Dangers of equating material goods with spiritual blessing

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Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

One of the pitfalls of the Church in Laodicea is that they equated material blessings, wealth, money and possessions with spiritual blessing. They thought all those were evidences of God’s favour and acceptance.

But is this not indicative of the ‘modern Church’? Prosperity gospel has taken over the centre stage in the media and the pulpits, feeding this perverse generation with what it wants to hear.

Most modern day preachers are already in the same spirit as that Church in Laodicea, preaching financial prosperity over and above salvation, holiness, hope of eternity in heaven, etc.

They are busy using their pulpit to raise millionaires rather than saints. But Jesus warned us to “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Some believers falsely assume that numerous material possessions are a sign of God’s spiritual blessing. Laodicea was a wealthy city, and the Church was also wealthy. But what the Laodiceans could see and buy had become more valuable to them than what is unseen and eternal.

Wealth, luxury and ease can make people feel confident, satisfied and complacent. But no matter how much you possess or how much money you make, you have nothing if you don’t have a vital relationship with Christ.

How does your current level of wealth affect your spiritual desire?

The Church and Nation At The Brink Of Spiritual Death

The Church has very strong connection with the nation and whatever goes on in the nation, just like the Church in Laodicea with the city. It is the Church members that make up the state. Therefore, to a large extent, the life of the Church impacts the nation and vice versa.

The spiritual climate in the Church in Laodicea, which the Lord described as disgusting lukewarmness, was also a reflection of the city itself and the life therein. The city was rich as was the Church, but the poverty of their riches was very evident.

Yet, neither the Church nor the city realised their wretched condition: they still trusted in riches.

They had deficiency of elements or resources that are needed or desired; or that constitute richness such as poverty of love, kindness and integrity, among others. With such vices, being signs of the poverty of their riches, such society is bound to decay. The situation comes closer to hopeless because the Church that would have challenged the decay was herself half-dead.

It will be expedient at this point to compare and contrast our country, Nigeria, with the ancient Asian city of Laodicea. The Church in Nigeria cannot be successfully separated from the nation’s spiritual poverty.

The signs of the unhealthy spiritual life of the Church in Nigeria as evident in divisions, greed, spiritual short-sightedness and confidence in wealth, are not helping the situation—it is making the salt lose its saltiness.

Where spiritual blindness and poverty persist in a nation, it will eventually result in economic poverty, breakdown of social system and emergence of heartless people who will make the times perilous. When leaders lead without the counsel of God, they grope in darkness and will not see what makes them stumble.

(Culled from the opening address to the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria by His Grace, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD.; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria and Chairman, Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Primates’ Council).


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