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Spiritual poverty and spiritual blindness—The correlation


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

Spiritual blindness is a state of spiritual unconsciousness; a spiritual condition where one is not able to see himself as God sees him. Spiritual poverty is when someone is rich in money and material possessions, but not towards God.

The Church in Laodicea was rich but complacent in their self-satisfaction, they never realised that the presence of Christ was not with them anymore—the root cause of spiritual poverty. Rather, they got carried away, swallowed up and satisfied by the transient pleasures of this world, so much that they became indifferent to God’s offer of lasting pleasure and satisfaction. Therefore, in their service to God, they also became lukewarm. For them to be in such deep wretched spiritual state and not know or see it means they were also spiritually blind. It further underscores the fact that there is a correlation between spiritual poverty and spiritual blindness: when one is spiritually poor and do not realise it, it means he is equally spiritually blind.

The State Of The Church And World Today
Largely, the condition of the Laodicea Church adequately describes the state of the Church and world today. The technologically and scientifically advanced countries have come to think of riches only in terms of material possessions—money, goods, wealth and earthly treasures. They have completely lost sight of the in-depth meaning of poverty, as also any deficiency of desirable elements that constitute richness. They only think of poverty as having little or no possessions or money. Therefore, from the outset, their understanding of poverty is deficient and as such, is itself a kind of poverty. Just like Laodicea became so proud of its achievements, confident of its wealth and false spiritual status, so are these countries today. At that time, all manner of evil was creeping into the Church, but they were too blind to notice it, until the Spirit of God abandoned them. Today, all manner of evil has found its way into the Church, and the doctrines and practices are being corrupted.

Relativism has propelled the revisionists’ agenda against the foundational teachings of the Bible and the Church. Perversion in different forms—homosexuality, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and same-sex marriage, among others—has now gained doctrinal acceptance and institutional or legal status. In the face of these, the Church in many of such derailed countries have, like the Church in Laodicea, decided to adopt these aberrations and to canonise them. Persons actively and openly in such relationship are admitted into Holy Orders.

Then the other parts of the Church and world, which have said no to this new degradation of humanity, are castigated and seen only from the angle of material poverty. They have failed to realise their own spiritual poverty that has brought deep spiritual blindness upon them. Examples are The Episcopal Church (TEC) of America and some other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, among others. They are now like the Church in Laodicea, priding themselves and saying ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ Whereas God is saying ‘you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’

The cure for spiritual blindness and poverty is not in the new age philosophies, but in the inerrant word of God—the Bible. It says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he (will eat) with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). This gracious invitation conveys the offer of the risen Lord to share with any, who will open the door of fellowship, even in the commonest activities of life. To open up to Christ, is to open up to His word, through which spiritual blindness can be cured and spiritual poverty healed. The word of God is likened to a mirror (James 1:22-25). It shows us what we truly are before God and cures our spiritual blindness. When we go further to obey it, it heals our spiritual poverty.
(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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Nicholas Okoh
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