After reading Ese’s confession, I realized what she would have gone through, to make her do what she did, the way she did and its impact on the Christian community in Nigeria. Fundamentally, I believe that God permits every manifestation in nature and I am sure of his potency to handle whatsoever he permits.
Let me start this article by selling to you all my understanding of who a Christian is. When believers of Jesus Christ gathered in Antioch, scripture has it that people who watched those gathered from the outside were the “first” to call the gathering that of “Christians”, implying “followers of Christ”.
So the word “Christian” was coined from without the Church. I know that who so ever gives a child his/her name, apart from the father, makes that child a bastard. So, those who accept to be called Christians appear to me as spiritual bastards. This is despite the fact that this name finds acceptance also in scripture.
I have postulated before now that ALL Christians go to church, but not all Christians are believers of Jesus Christ. In fact I am even aware that in the church, some are called “church goers”, hmmm! Interesting, but the truth is; all who go to church, first and foremost, no matter the ranks, are “church goers”. So it is about everyone who left his house, moved a distance and is found in church. I wondered why some in the church would call others in the same church, “church goers”. It’s like the kettle calling the pot black.
I realized early in my desire to preach Christ, that I shouldn’t pastor a church in the sense of calling out followership to myself; claiming to instruct others on their “personal” relationship with God. It is indeed a gift for many men, God’s gift in nurturing and guidance. But I chose not to lead a physical congregation because of the discipline it will require. I realized I won’t be able to go bullying people. I won’t have that capacity. I discovered also that I had a shortfall in my morality with women who put themselves under my power.
This is where I am calling the world to cognizance please. Women in church put themselves under the power of men who claim to be representatives of God, and “ministers” of the “word”. They are entitled to their claims because I am incompetent to authenticate any or cast the stone, which I don’t even have.
My sister Ese did not come this far for nothing, she is, in my opinion the voice of a new beginning. She has brought an issue that has grown in pretension within the church for a long time. But I believe that if Pastor Biodun was not worth his salt and “onion”, people will not flock to him the way they do, not even sister Ese would, and so for all other pastors all over the world, who find followership among the wealthy, educated, influential, and the powerful.
As in the case of Ese Walter, I think women over reach the relevance they attach to pastors, the men follow suit only so as not to generate any controversy, because as a pastor, you are required to be very sensitive to most, or all of your members. The power of instruction is enormous, it is executive and these are men like other men, ordinary and vulnerable. The difference is that they have given themselves to learning and dedicated submission to their persuasion.
I say this with all sense of experience that as a church officer then, women have complained to me as sister Ese did to “Pastor Flo”. However, I am persuaded to fault sister Ese in her rating of Pastor Biodun. She clearly refused to accept the plain fact that Pastor Biodun is also a natural man who gave himself to spiritual self-development. I tell sister Ese plainly and truly that I can key into Pastor Biodun’s “another level of faith”.
In the end letters of Romans, scripture blesses the man “who condemns not himself in what he allows” or if you like, “permits”, and the mission of Christ is to free us from ANY and EVERY condemnation, including that of self. The early chapters of John gospel share these. This is a very deep depth of faith that gives a flow of grace that can also provide Pastor Biodun the means to move on, after this. God rejects no man because he has fallen; he rather helps the fallen man to arise from his fall. We must get this straight.
What sister Ese could not deal with, is what Pastor Biodun would have probably dealt with by now and may have move on. I am not justifying what Pastor Biodun did; others like him do it to. Like the eleven commandment in life, which says “don’t be found on the wrong side”; Pastor Biodun was only found on the wrong side. It doesn’t mean he cannot move again to the right side.
A pastor, once during a regional convention of the church he leads, in Port Harcourt, when talking about the grace over him said, if he needs one pair of shoes and he announces it to the congregation, he is sure to open a shoe shop with the response he would receive. Can you blame him for how people see him? I am told one is addressed according to how he/she dresses himself/herself. We look too much from the outside like the
“watchers” in Antioch.
It is a great privilege to be in affluence and great wealth. It conveys power; this was the reason sister Ese said she felt like a small girl whose mind stop thinking when her pastor asked her to sit on his lap. However, she had her opportunity to recover from this feeling when he volunteered alcohol and offered her a-free-as-air atmosphere. Pastor Biodun is a man of like passion like any of us. She could have resisted him, if she wasn’t also carried away by her choice to explore the opportunities her pastor provided.
We must know also that men who can resist the women who put themselves under their power are not ordinary men; there is something about them that is not known to the “outsider”, especially if they are flamboyant, wealthy and graceful. Many who do this willingly are undeniably in constant self-denial. They struggle with their
shortcomings and are in mind pains constantly.
God made pleasurable things for man’s enjoyment, but in the pursuit of this pleasure the ground norm must be a watch word: do to others as would that it be done to you. This is where blames can be apportioned but who has the power to discern the intent and motives of the heart of man? Surely it is not me. Sin is pictured in the reaction of Adam when he found out that he was naked. After all he has always been naked but his self-awareness changed with the eating of the forbidden fruit, and what this led him to, was the exploitation of other creatures.
It is recorded that he sewed leaves for clothing, when in the actual sense; he never needed a physical covering, because that wasn’t what was taken away. What he lost was the spiritual covering the 2nd Adam restored to mankind. Jesus provided for us the opportunity that Adam refused by his complaints and finger pointing.
I played this church thing innocently, decently, committedly and with humility. I had my struggles, my worries, and concerns, and I never spared my pastors my mind. I said it as I am persuaded. I handled the Sunday school and I gave myself to self-development. At the end, I realized how ungrateful church leadership can be. My pastors minded me, and they constantly sent their foot soldiers after me because I was bold to say my mind. My persuasion is that a minister of God MUST be humble and selfless. So I was forced out of the church I attended, and ultimately from church going in May 2005, for fear for my life, and from stigma.
I closed myself up in my bedroom for several weeks, reading nothing but the Bible and my making notes. I did this until I came into the reality of the scriptural passages jumping out at me and generated undeniable awareness of truth. I read the gospels until I found myself walking the street of Jerusalem in the company I read about, and hearing hidden wisdom that were not captured in what I read. Then I realized that the search for God’s relationship is a personal one. It is not sufficient to hear another person. It did not work for the Jews when they asked Moses to stand between them and God. Their life style led to the breaking up of the Law of God when Moses found them in Idol worship; and the one they finally got from God had the impute of man, because Moses prepared the stone for the 2nd tablet and made the Law, by his impute, imperfect. This law led Jesus to the Cross to abrogate it.
Sister Ese’s confession is profound, it is an epoch but let us not think that that can change anything in itself. The change the church needs is a turning around, a turning over inside out. This will not happen until every believer knows the truth and he or she is by it freed in conscience, nothing can happen. Only truth can heal the yearnings of the conscience.
What we see as churches and their leadership today is a replication of the temple services of the days of Jesus, and church leadership as the Council of the Sanhedrin, who sit in authority over others. But who is in the position to blame any pastor for how his congregants see him or her? I commend sister Ese for her courageous confession but I empathize with Pastor Biodun for this moment and I am sure he has the grace to weather the storm. I am not sure that if I insisted on pastoring a church that I won’t have found myself in the same predicament as Pastor Biodun or even worse, but I am grateful to a very loving God who allows us chose what we desire and constantly watches out for us.
The story of the prodigal son is clear on this fact: that no matter how rascally one thinks he is, he is safer been so in his father’s house. What made him prodigal was not his riotous living, what made him prodigal was his leaving his father’s house, until he came to his senses and returned. This is the undeniable privilege Jesus has given every believer who comes to him. It is an exercise to purge our conscience of the sin mentality; this is primarily the cause of sister Ese’s discomfort through the refining process she underwent. Her inability to release herself from the consciousness of sin ran her into confusion and anger.
I am not also bereft to reason the possibility that both sister Ese and Pastor Biodun may have had some irreconcilable differences that caused sister Ese to come this far, but this does not and cannot make Pastor Biodun any less a man of God than he ever was before now. What changes is how sister Ese and ALL in her category now see him.
My advice: let’s strive to surpass our pastors by availing ourselves to spiritual self-development and we will find out that we really only do need pastors to serve us and not to lead us because the duty to lead a Christian is the specific responsibility of the Holy Spirit of God, and no man is that Spirit.