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How The Church Can Affect Amount Of Love In Society

14 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
Yesterday, February 14 was Valentine’s Day. It is a day lovers – whether married or unmarried–celebrate love every year. But the story of this event cannot be complete without mentioning the Christian Saints that started it all. Whether the day is celebrated rightly or wrongly is another matter entirely. But is there any other love…

Yesterday, February 14 was Valentine’s Day. It is a day lovers – whether married or unmarried–celebrate love every year. But the story of this event cannot be complete without mentioning the Christian Saints that started it all. Whether the day is celebrated rightly or wrongly is another matter entirely. But is there any other love that can be compared to the one demonstrated by the Lord, when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to show sinful mankind the way? Today, this all encompassing love demonstrated by God and which He commands every man and woman to extend to his or her neighbour is becoming so scarce, as men have become lovers of themselves. And this is the reason some leaders appropriate all the goodies meant for the populace thereby unleashing poverty and misery on the people. So, it becomes pertinent to ask: How can the church influence the society to imbibe the virtue and start demonstrating the kind of love willed by God? CHRIS IREKAMBA sought the views of some clerics on the issue. 

 ‘If You Remove Church And Prayer, Everybody Would Have Gone To Blazes’

(Rev. Fr. Ralph Okechukwu Madu, Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, Abuja)

THE church is already affecting the society through prayer and other things, because if you remove the church and prayer, everybody will go to blazes. I think you are talking about how it can affect the society more. Everything that concerns Nigeria with regards to our unity and morality is being upheld through the prayer of the church and of course, the morality that is being instilled in the people. But if it is the question of how the church can do more, then that is different. It’s not as if we are just starting to do something, as a lot has already been done. The more that can be done is in the area of conscientisation. 

  I believe that awareness grows and people get more committed in what they do. You know Nigerians have been rated as very prayerful people and I disagree with those who think that our morality or ethics is not growing with our prayer life. It’s just that when you live in a big society, evil things make the news. 

  There are many good things that Nigerians are doing. You are aware that some Nigerians have found and returned wallets and money to their owners. Those are moral principles they’ve imbibed. I think from the point of view of Valentine, if you go to Owerri or Aba, the Bishops there have tried to make the event more positive. 

  In Owerri, the day is marked with carols, singing and various activities that involve young boys and girls. All this is in an attempt to show them the Catholic or Christian way of celebrating Valentine. These things are already there, but they can be intensified. 

‘Everyday God Expects Us To Demonstrate His Love’

(Rev. Roselyn Oduyemi, General Overseer, Bethel Ministries Inc., Lekki Aja, Lagos)

THE Bible says, ‘the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; it’s new every morning; great is thy faithfulness O God.’ Every day, His love is being demonstrated. His love is sure, as it never stops or ceases. It is not the kind of love that you hear out there, when people say, ‘I love you’ and it is attached to a condition. But, the love of God I’m talking about is everyday and it is unconditional; the love of God that says ‘I love you’ even with your sins. It is the love that prompted God the Father to send His only Son Jesus Christ to die for mankind. That love is unconditional. Isn’t that what the world needs?

  There are things that we do here, apart from preaching the word of God. For instance, every month we give out food to widows. In the church, we have what is called ‘Benevolent’, a period that the church gives out things to people, irrespective of who they are. Every week, we organise a programme whereby we give out things to street urchins, those called Area boys and girls. We give them packages to keep body and soul together. Every year, just like last year, we had about 10, 000 children here and every child went home with something new. It is done in the demonstration of the love of Christ, which is not just giving but is about sharing, showing acts of kindness and mercy. You forgive those who hurt you. You can show love by smiling at somebody. Even the Bible commands us to give a cup of water to those we perceive as our enemies. So, it is not just a-one-day affair. His love is everyday, but not as the world gives or loves.

‘Everybody Must Forget Self And Think About Their Neighbour’

(Rev. (Dr.) Kayode Opadeji, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Ikeja, Lagos)

THE Bible says that ‘if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ The basic thing about love is what we call selflessness, which is all about giving consideration to others and if this is in place in our society, then everybody must forget about self and think about their neighbour. God will not support any society or human being, who claims to love Him that you cannot see physically and you ignore those around you that you can see. God won’t support that kind of preaching. He will not support that kind of attitude. Jesus Christ came to show us how to show and express true love to the others. The Bible says ‘beloved, let us love one another.’ The love is of God and any one that is called of God needs to love. We need to demonstrate it and put others first. I would want to encourage even those claiming to be church leaders to lead the way by first practising this. For instance, if a pastor knows that in his community, there are destitute and the less privileged, he should think first about such people and cater to their needs before going ahead to buy a private jet. There is nothing wrong in buying a jet, but that is not the primary need of a pastor. 

  In our church, we have what we call the food bank, where on Tuesdays, people from the community, whether you are a Christian or from other faith, gather and collect foodstuff. We also give them money. I also want to say that the church can also employ people that can be of help to them. That way, we are reducing unemployment in the country. 

‘We Preach Love And It Affects Every Facet Of Life’

(Pastor Johnson Funso Odesola, Member, Governing Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)

If you trace the story of Valentine, I’m sure it has something to do with Christianity because after God created man, what He created next was relationship. In fact, the church should be the centre, where people should come and learn about relationship. 

  I think if the church does not affect love and relationship, then there is no reason for it to exist, because even the church and the gospel we preach is the gospel of love and it must affect every facet of life. It must affect marriages; the way we deal with our country and the way we deal with others. So, the church has an important role to play because that is one of the reasons for its existence. That is the message of the church, that is the character of the church and that is the commandment of the Head of the Church to it.  

‘To Affect Society Is By Helping Those In Need’

(Pastor Peter Odogwu, Senior Pastor, Destiny Centre, Unveiling Chapel, Abuja)

True love is scarce and the only way to affect the society is through preaching of the word of God because He is love and the Author of love. If there is real teaching of the word of God and properly centred on love, it will affect the society positively, because the word of God is influential. You cannot actually have the true meaning of love, if you don’t understand God for He is love and I’m not talking about the superficial love. I’m talking about the ‘agape’ kind of love that transforms individuals, society and the world. If you look at God, you will see His love that made Him to conceive by Himself and give us Jesus Christ to this sinful world. That, to me, is love. It is from there that you begin to understand what the love of God is all about. Love doesn’t take, but gives. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, and it doesn’t hurt. Love is all about giving and receiving. And when you come to Him, He begins to teach you how to affect other people around you. True love of God will make you to relate better with other people.  

  There are so many ways we can express this love. For example, by assisting those we identify as having one need or the other such as the widows. On a quarterly basis, our team visits the Motherless Babies homes, and other less privileged in the society and whatever we have, we give to them.  

‘Love Is All That Is Required To Realign The Disorder’

(Rev. Eliashib Ime-James, Senior Pastor, The Gospel House, Ogba Lagos)

The reason the world seems to have turned upside down is rooted in hatred. A world without love is doomed. Even in the church, love has been redefined. If you are not financially solvent, the love you receive is gauged. Yet love is all that is required to realign the disorder that you see in the world.

  There is no middle of the road in life; to make it in life, you either serve God or the devil. You can’t serve God without love, not love as the world defines it, but as God does.

  1 Corinthians 13:1-4 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

  In other words, verse one is saying “you may speak the language of heaven, if you don’t show love to your fellow man, your prayer is like an irritating noise to God.”

  Verse two paraphrased says, “you may interpret the divine will of God, resolve all mysteries, heal all manner of sickness, but if you don’t love, you don’t exist before God.”

  Verse three says your giving is worthless before God, if you don’t have love.”

   So, you see that the church, which is the body of Christ, is called to a life of love. If the church will practise true love and not just mouth it, then the world would be a better place to live.

‘Church Should Encourage People To Embrace ‘Agape’ Love’

(Rev. Yomi Kasali, Senior Pastor, Foundation of Truth Assembly, Surulere, Lagos)

Love is the most abused word in the scriptures and also very misunderstood. There are different uses of the word love in the Bible, yet we so often interchangeably use them, albeit ignorantly. 

  February 14 is globally celebrated as St. Valentine Day of Love. It is the day set aside for lovers to celebrate themselves, share some love, renew their commitments to one another, express their affection towards one another through exchange of gifts and so on. Yet, there are so many kinds and manifestations of love mentioned in the Bible that should form the basis for sensual love.

  The Church should teach and encourage people to embrace ‘Agape’ love, which should be the foundation for expressing other kinds of love. This is God’s kind of love that is considered ‘perfect’ within theological settings. The bible says ‘God is Love’, (1 John 4:8); the Apostle Paul deeply shares his knowledge about this kind of love in 1 Cor. 13, where he revealed the qualities of this kind of love through the help of the Holy Spirit.

  In conclusion, I truly believe that sensual or marital love can truly be expressed from a heart full of Agape love. Anything outside that can only be superficial and will not last. 

‘Many Churches Are Supplying Food And Shelter To Displaced Persons’ 

(Rev. (Dr.) Musa Asake, National Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN)

THE church still remains the salt and light of the world and there should be no compromise, regardless of whatever any one may be doing. That is why we are praying and trusting God for free and fair election in this country. So, the church will continue to love and appreciate all the people just as the Bible says: “Love your neighbour as yourself”. We will continue to care and love one another. If we maintain that, then the problem of sowing falsehood in the name of religion will no longer be there. But let us love and care for one another. So, we should continue that love that is the word that the gospel carries. 

  There are many orphanages that are being headed by Christians, taking care of orphans. If you look at the issue of displaced people, you will see that there are many churches that are going about supplying food and giving them shelter. 

  Recently, the CAN president hosted some representatives at Achiboro here. He has been doing that a lot to even the displaced persons in Cameroon. So, there are many people like him in this country from the church that are doing such things. So, the church has continued to show love to the needy and care for them. 

‘We Are To Preach Love’

(Apostle A.T.B. Williams, General Overseer, Christ Faith Tabernacle Worldwide/Head of All Black Churches In London)

THE message and atmosphere of love is everywhere, but the true meaning of love is what is missing. Love can only be defined by the author of love, Who happens to be God. He is love. 

  In today’s world, love seems to be so far away and is very scarce. Crime rate is on the increase and there is more violence on our streets. Men have indeed become lovers of themselves, which is making them to be lovers of money, proud, abusive, lacking self-control and ungodly. It is one of the major reasons leaders take more than they deserve and thereby increase the index of poverty and misery. Armed robbery, kidnapping and such vices are also on the increase.

  Today, marriages are failing; divorce and separation are on the increase, even within the church. The family, which is supposed to be the foundation of every society, is crumbling. The society is always a reflection of the church and the family. If only the church can do and preach love, then the society will be a better place to live in.

  For the society to experience true love, the church, which happens to be God’s representatives here on earth, will have to return fully to God and carry out its instructions as given in His Holy Word – The Bible.

  In 1 Cor 1:1-13, the Bible gives us the true definition and meaning of love. For the purpose of this topic, I will sub-divide it into three parts. They are: the value of love, the test of love and the permanence of love.

  The value of love in (1 Cor13: 1-3), says ‘if you possess everything and you have no love, you have nothing. Your giving, your services and your intellect without love are nothing. While (1 Cor 13:4-7), says ‘Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, not proud, does not dishonour others, is not self-seeking, not easily angered, does not keep records of wrongs, does not delight in evil but always rejoices in the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. 

  Then, (1 Cor13: 8-13), says ‘Love never fails.’ On the stage of life, love is bound to win. All those who practise it will never be defeated. A time will come in your life, when everything you possess will fail but love will live on.

  Therefore, church leaders should take out time to reflect on the love of Christ, emulate and teach this God-kind of love that will lead to a better society.