When a Calling becomes an Art
by Ernest Armah
Many so-called Elijahs are being called in this era of Ahabs, Jezebels and idolatry. What used to be an intense spiritual appeal to mind and soul to reclaim people from the shackles of sin to righteousness has become a contest of the gabs. And most of us have fallen for this innovation of God’s calling.
The number of churches in Ghana grew to over 7,000 in 2010. The mushrooming of churches in our neighborhoods makes the statistics more real. For instance, chop bars, movie centers and pubs in my neighborhood has been turned into churches. One-man churches, to be specific. The man of God is not only a man of God. He is also a counsellor, intercessor, financial advisor, accountant, prophet, pastor, bishop, doctor and so on. Everything in the church revolves around him. And he has answers to everything.
What is also interesting is how this men of God confer all manner of titles upon themselves without any trace of affiliation to a theological institute or ecclesiastical council. Besides, most of them are not under the Christian Council of Ghana.
They have quite a following owing to their impeccable delivery of signs and wonders. Their ability to influence their congregants to move to their drumbeats underscore the power they wield. But these have come with casualties. People have been deceived and homes have been torn apart by the ‘activities of charlatans parading as pastors’. Calls by the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council for the regulation of independent pastors and churches have fallen on deaf ears.
In a highly religious country like Ghana, it is not farfetched to expect religious values and beliefs to affect conduct. This is not so, unfortunately. Perhaps Ghanaians are Christians by virtue of their socio-economic status. They are drawn to God by what they can get. They are not looking for a relationship but a transaction. And these self-called men of God are the perfect middlemen. But these transactions have become quite expensive for each one of us and society as a whole.
We see this in the greedy urge to steal and be corrupt. The costliness of this transaction even finds expression in how people can clothe acts of darkness with the ever fruitful grace of God. We don’t sin anymore. We make mistakes. For the reason that we are humans. Accountable to humans. Genuine remorse has become a thing of the past.
Christianity has become a business for humans, not God. It has become an innovative way of surviving in a country with a rising unemployment rate and rising cost of living. We have reduced it to chewing and pouring of God’s word on the plights and trials of our lives without any commitment to making responsible interpretations and positive impact. It is one of the social innovations of the 21st century. The fallibility in this transaction is beyond a negligible margin of error.
We have commercial TV programs which actually rewards children who can articulate God’s word flawlessly. We are subjected to a noise pollution of reckless interpretations of God’s word on a daily basis.
I can understand that God’s calling of persons doesn’t always make sense. But when a man of God claims God called him with a female name, you don’t need to be told twice that we’ve got issues in the Christian faith.