Avoid quarreling, going to court, Okoh urges church members
Says Lagos West Must Remain A Flowing River, A Movement And Not A Monument
Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh has appealed to members of his church, never to take their Bishops or any group or member of the church to court for any reason whatsoever.
He made the appeal last Wednesday in Lagos at the Thanksgiving Service to mark the 20th anniversary of the Diocese of Lagos West. Okoh, who came to Lagos with his wife, Nkasiobi and other church leaders from different dioceses, said going to court or fighting is tantamount to offending the Lord and humiliating the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Speaking on the theme: “God is our refuge and strength, ever-present in times of trouble,” the Bishop of Abuja Diocese commended the Diocese of Lagos West for being faithful and steadfast in the things of God, especially avoiding negative publicity. He said: “As a branch of the Church of Nigeria that has existed for 20 years, you have made the following achievements: no negative publicity has emanated from here. You have expanded the frontiers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You have maintained a healthy Christian community, because in the Lord’s Prayer and opening address is our Father. The Lord’s Prayer introduces you to the community of God’s people, not my father, not my God. It makes you to realize that you belong to a Christian community and you have brothers, sisters and neighbours of same Christian family. You have worked like that and the community of Lagos West is very strong.”
He said even when the Diocese changed leadership and enthroned another Bishop, there was no schism and members did not terrorise the church on account of that, but was able to increase the church’s social concerns and services by providing schools, hospitals and other care agencies.
The Primate also applauded the Diocese for maintaining the orthodox Anglican Christian faith without yielding to pressure. “You have contributed as a responsible member of the family of the Church of Nigeria. You have contributed money, materials and ideas, and because of all these, the Lord will continue to bless you,” he said.
Moving forward, Okoh advises members of the church to abide in Christ. He assured them that no demon or principality could destabilise the church of God, as the Lord will always be their refuge and strength. He recalled his experience with a man that wanted to initiate him into secret occult, when he was newly promoted primate and why abiding faith in God is very essential.
He recalled: “Somebody once came to my office and said ‘now that you have been elected primate, you need to protect it. It’s true you’ve been elected as the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, it is one thing to get the office and it is another thing to protect it. ‘I said what is the meaning of that?’ He said: ‘Well, there is no deep meaning into it only that you need to know certain things and do certain things.’ ‘I said it’s okay, let me hear from you.’ He said: “At midnight, I would want you to face the East and begin to say certain things and so on.’ ‘I said by so doing am I not conjuring certain things and if those things come out what will I say’? He said, ‘be a man’? ‘I said I’m already a man.’ He said ‘what I’m telling you now is that it’s one thing to have the office and it is another thing to protect it.’ I said ‘God Who gave the office has the capacity to protect it.’
“When I returned home, I told my wife, and she said they wanted to initiate me into something. Do you know that three months later, the man died? So, my wife said, ‘he probably wanted to exchange his life with your life or whatever.’ So, beware you have been granted to stay in the city of refuge and the strength of the Lord will continue to be your strength. Don’t wander away because if you do, the avenger of blood may catch up with you. And you may be destroyed. Stay where God says you should stay, don’t go elsewhere. Because this man wanted to finish me, he pretended to be helping me. Do not allow anybody to use your life in exchange of his own.
“Many of us today are augmenting Jesus with a practice of secretism, where you bring in African religion. You have something around your waist, you have something like bangle you wear and people think it is an ointment but you know what you are wearing. You can deceive people, but you cannot deceive God.
Therefore, cast away works of darkness that the grace of God may avail for you.” Warning the church to beware of false teaching as well as false teachers, whether they are from Nigeria or abroad, the cleric noted that in the next 20 years, false teachers would increase, including those who are breaking away from the Anglican Church in search of daily bread.
He said: “Remain as the remnant of the church and steadfast while teaching the truth of the gospel, and do not be afraid. Those who know the truth, the truth shall set them free. As a diocese, maintain a missionary drive.
“Christianity is a flowing river, not a stagnant pool. Christianity is a movement, not a monument, no matter how large the monument might be, it’s not Christianity. Water will ever remain fresh, and if it is fresh, it is drinkable. But if it is a stagnant pool, it smells and gathers all forms of debris from near and far.”
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