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The poverty of riches: The Anglican voice – A word from Primate Nicholas Okoh – Part 3

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

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked,” (Rev. 3:17)

Spiritual Poverty and Its Impact
The poverty of riches or spiritual poverty has grievous impacts on individuals, families, churches and nations.

Individuals:
When a Christian is spiritually poor—without an active relationship with Jesus Christ, and without the Holy Spirit’s guide—he will be blinded and powerless over the influences of the flesh, the world and the devil; yet he will not realise it. In fact, he will misunderstand it to mean that God is at work in him. Such persons can occupy any position in the church, but they do the work of God in the flesh. Consequently, even when they are opposing God, they will not know, so they will do it with all their might.

Such individuals, in their spiritual blindness, come up with ideas and suggestions that are opposed to the Spirit, and insist that the Church must follow their way. They live in sin and detestable practices, but feel no shame; rather they are proud in evil, and are not teachable.

The Family:
A family may be financially well to do, able to provide for all their physical needs, but still in deep spiritual poverty. This shows in spiritual disconnect capable of making the children godless. Some Christian parents are unaware of this and so, wonder why a child well catered for can still misbehave, get involved in unwholesome activities like cultism. The reason is that they lack vital satisfying relationship with Christ, and so, seek fulfilment elsewhere. Christian fathers and mothers have the God-given responsibility of making their home the smallest unit of a living church, which God intends the home to be.

The Church:
Where the church is plagued with spiritual poverty, it is unable to stand for the Lord in anything opposed to the world. The flood of corruption in the society will submerge such a church. She will be at the receiving end from the society, as the society will be dictating for her. Having lost all spiritual sensitivity, lost touch with things of eternal value, the church will lack courage to face persecutions because she has been cut off from the source of divine strength. Churches have fallen into this spiritual bankruptcy and subsequent moral decay, that even when the state enacts obnoxious laws, the church will lack voice and courage to speak or resist. Rather, they look for a new theology and interpretation of the Bible to accommodate the views and practices of the world.

In a church plagued with spiritual blindness, the spirit of mission is dead. They will be glorying only in their achievements, in structures and monuments named after them.

Nations:
God is the Governor of all the nations on earth, but He has human representatives who sit over the affairs of people. However, where leaders are ignorant of the source of the lofty privilege they have received, and the trust with which God has charged them, they rule as though there is no God.

Such leaders are cut off from the life of God, and are in spiritual poverty and blindness. This is further reflected in their decrees and rule. Ungodly and unnatural laws are made to guide people’s lives. Perversion in different forms—homosexuality, lesbianism, bi-sexuality, same-sex marriage, adultery, etc.—has now gained doctrinal acceptance, legal and institutional status.

(Culled from the opening address to the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria by His Grace, The Most Revd. 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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Primate Nicholas Okoh
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