Passion For Humanity

what's new

Do not kneel before me, I am only a man myself

Do not kneel before me, I am only a man myself

 Today, Christmas Day, church sanctuaries across the land will be full of worshippers, gathered together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The clergy will be seated at the altars or other distinct places of honour. Front pews will be reserved for what the world calls VIPs - very important people. They will arrive in cars, some of them tax-payer funded vehicles. Many will be accompanied by armed bodyguards, some carrying submachine guns as though in a war zone. 


The rest of the worshippers, especially the peasants will be relegated to the back seats. Some will be made to yield their seats to VIPs who arrive late. 


In some churches, the clergy, not Christ, will be the focus of the message. Their arrival will trigger reverential standing, clapping, crying and other acts that belong at a pop music concert. Some in the congregation will bow or kneel before the clergy, not in worship of the Lord, but in veneration of fellow humans. 


Of course, the faithful will present their offerings, mostly cash - plenty of cash – and a few items that will be auctioned right there in the House of the Lord. Lucky is the church that the moneyed men and women attend. Its offertory bags and baskets will be heavy-laden with very generous gifts. Even offerings from men and women who have robbed the public treasury will be received with gratitude, the money’s criminal journey cleansed with holy prayer.  


The church depends on money from worshippers to operate its programs, including sustenance of its paid workers, and its building projects. The elite, many of them part of the machine that has hijacked the state, have plenty of this money. 


So, the pastors need to be on the right side of the elite. Many priests avoid preaching messages that might make the moneyed and powerful uncomfortable. Indeed, many of them are key players in the churches’ governance and fundraising efforts. 


Some Pentecostal churches have taken it further. They spiritually segregate worshippers according to the amounts they give. The more you give the more blessings, prayers and recognition you get from the pastor. I have witnessed this in some Kampala churches.


The critical observer will not miss the irony of the apartheid at play in the churches even as we worship a humble Man whose birth was first announced to lowly shepherds, one who consorted with “toll collectors and sinners.” 


One will also note the irony of clergy treated with a reverence that elevates them to demi-gods, even as they preach a message that was passed on to us by, among others, Simon Peter and Paul, two men who completely rejected self-exaltation. 


One of the greatest stories in the Bible is the encounter in Caesarea Maritima, narrated in Acts Chapter 10,  between Simon Peter, the Disciple of Jesus, and a man named Cornelius, a centurion (military officer) in the Roman Army. 


When Peter enters the centurion’s house, Cornelius falls at his feet in reverence.  But Peter makes him get up. “Stand up,” he says, “I am only a man myself.”


Peter, consecrated by the Lord Himself to be the Rock upon which He will build His church, has an unassailable resume. A vain man in his shoes would be walking and talking big. He would expect reverence from all who come before him. 


But not Peter! He completely rejects the self-exaltation that we see today among those who declare themselves to be “men of God”, and the secular rulers before whom subordinates and subjects kneel in idol worship. 


To paraphrase Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28,there is neither VIP nor peasant, neither reverend nor layman, nor is there rich and poor, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.


I end with the question to you and me: Why was Christ born? We know the answer. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 


Christ’s birth, life and death are about giving. Just as God gave Him to us as the greatest gift to humanity, so must we give back to God, not through offerings and tithes to churches; not through buying pastors the latest additions to their wardrobes and garages, but to the Lord Himself in accordance with the final message He taught us before His arrest and crucifixion. 


In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus taught us that we serve Him when we feed the hungry and thirsty, invite strangers into our homes, clothe the needy, look after the sick and visit prisoners. These are God’s children, just like you and me. They are the Church, not the magnificent buildings with great art and carpenters’ masterworks. 


To that end, I pray and urge you, my friend, to join me on a mission. For the month of January 2019, let us not give a single shilling to any church or Christian organization. Instead, let each Christian find a needy child or an orphan or an elderly person, or a sick and needy person and provide them with financial support. Do this without bragging or telling anyone. 


Do not go to church on Sunday. Instead go to a neighbour, one that is struggling, and share quality time with them. Use that visit to share the Gospel of Christ, to feed the hungry and thirsty, to clothe the poorly clothed or to assist the sick. 


Alternatively, if you are in Uganda, visit one of our country’s 54,000 prisoners incarcerated in an overcrowded prison system that was designed to hold 16,000 people. If you are in Kenya, do likewise, and visit at least one of your country’s 54,000 prisoners who are locked up in a system that was designed to hold 26,687 people. 


If you are “abroad”, fund the education of a child in your home district, and visit the needy in the community where you live.


Visit the single mothers, the prostitutes or street children and their parents. Give of your treasure, your time or your talent to the Lord Himself, not to the pastors, many of whom are just greedy charlatans. 


Let us seek the humility of Him whose birth we celebrate, the same humility manifest in Peter and Paul, so that we may break free from the chains that bind us and prevent us from fulfilling His commands. Let us proclaim Christ, not just with our words, but with our deeds and our lives. Let us focus on transforming the lives of God’s children, not on building big cathedrals and other sanctuaries that edify man, not God. 


Let us enter 2019 marvelling at what God has done for us, and asking what we must do for Him so that our neighbours of all social stations – all of them VIPs before the Lord - may know that Jesus is alive. 








Recent Posts

Popular Posts