“Thus says the lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place.” (Jeremiah 7:3)
The words of Jeremiah in today’s first reading apply directly even to the church in our day and time. Christianity today has become more of a “come-and-receive-your-blessing” phenomenon. As Jeremiah puts it: “Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”– only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10).
Helen Paul, a popular Nigerian comedian once said: “Ladies, listen to me when you are looking for a husband, it is very easy to get one. Just go to a church and join the choir. Ensure your dress is very tight and let it show your nice curves. When you are leading the song, raise your left hand so that men will notice that there is no ring. Then shake and turn your body around in the spirit so that they will see you are a complete package.”
Helen had just passed a message; attending Church no longer impacts the practical day-to-day morality of people. We steal, murder, commit adultery, and so on, then appear in the church to collect our blessing, destroy the demons responsible for our poverty and feel good about ourselves. We listen to motivational talks, entertain ourselves with good music, dance to our delight, and shout countless ‘Amen’ to impossible prayers.
In the novel, Americanah, Chimamanda wrote about Aunty Uju who was obviously going out with a General while Ifemelu’s mother described the “blessings” she was getting from the General as miracles. Is it a miracle that a single lady drives a big car or owns a big house after prostituting herself with a married man?
No doubt Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel passage is so true. There are weeds among the wheat. In any church be sure to find the good, the bad, the very bad, and the satanic. And just as you cannot easily distinguish the wheat from weeds, Christians are not easily distinguishable today. We all dress alike, talk alike and pretend very well but it is when we get to the privacy of our homes that our true religion plays out.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, help me to serve you in such a way that at the end of my life I may be counted among the wheat and not the weed. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Jer. 7:1-11, Ps. 84:3-6,8,11, Matthew 13:24-30).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu