Those who wear designer clothes are now the pastors of our churches.
There is no question about it, Pastor Paul Adefarasin of House on the Rock, Lagos is a man of great charisma. When Hollywood was looking for someone to play the role of God in a major film production, they came all the way to Nigeria and chose him for the part.
But in a 2007 edition of This Day Style magazine, Pastor Paul is featured playing a curiously different role.
On the cover of the magazine, he is shown wearing an elegant pin-striped suit, a thick and expensive wristwatch and some gold and possibly emerald rings. In the centre-spread, the pastor is photographed in glory in an all-white outfit, sprawled resplendently on a tiled floor so well-polished; it gives a glowing reflection of his image.
Pastor Paul looked fantastic. There is only one problem; from the cover to the centre-spread; he is no different from a celebrity model or Hollywood film-star.
The interviewer, Azuka Ogujiuba, asks him a telling question: “Pastors are supposed to be simple and humble, but modern-day pastors are perceived as flashy and sometimes flamboyant which does not augur well with the orthodox religion. Does your style affect the way you want to be perceived?”
Pastor Paul does not take kindly to such criticism. His reply is emphatic: “It is strange when you consider most people do not think twice about, say, a banker or businessman wearing nice clothes and driving a nice car, yet place a pastor in the same clothes and car and he is called flashy or flamboyant.”
But the pastor seems to have missed Azuka’s point. Why would a fashion magazine do a special feature on a pastor? Surely there should be a fundamental difference between a worldly banker or businessman, and a spiritual pastor? The interviewer did not pretend to any religious distinctions. Nevertheless, she was being mischievous in the attempt to set up the pastor with a seemingly innocuous question.
In biblical days, prophets of God dressed modestly like one of the flock; in “sheep’s clothing.” The psalmist counsels: “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness” (Psalm 132:9). Jesus asked his Jewish audience why they went to see John the Baptist in the wilderness: “What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces” (Matthew 11:7-8). But today, those who wear designer clothes are now the pastors of our churches.
You cannot watch tapes of Bishop T.D. Jakes without noticing his many custom-made suits. And he never seems to wear the same suit twice. Then I read in a magazine that a group of men in his church make it their business to ensure that the bishop always has new suits. They do this notwithstanding the fact that T.D. Jakes is, by all accounts, a self-made multi-millionaire. Nevertheless, they consider it more important to clothe the rich bishop, instead of concentrating on the poor and the needy.
Garment of camel’s hair
A gentleman told me an illuminating story. Many years ago, he had a major crisis and was convinced it would be resolved if only he could get to see Pastor Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. But when he went to see him, he was ushered into the office of someone else; an ordinary-looking fellow in plain clothes and shirt-sleeves.
When he told him his problem, the man said he could not help him, but assured him he knew someone who would. At which point, he became excited thinking he would finally get to see Adeboye. But instead, he asked him to bow down his head in prayer, while he presented the matter before the Lord. He said the man prayed a two or three-sentence prayer, after which he was unceremoniously ushered out.
Back outside, he was dissatisfied; convinced his time had been wasted. Therefore, he went back in and insisted on seeing Adeboye himself. “I thought I just attended to you,” the church Secretary said. “What are you doing here again?” The man complained that, instead of seeing Adeboye, he had seen another man who had practically nothing to offer.
But the Secretary calmly reassured him that the man he saw was Adeboye. “You mean that was Adeboye?” the man asked with incredulity. “Yes, that was him,” the Secretary replied. At which point he asked if he could just see him again. “I did not know it was him,” he pleaded. The Secretary refused. “You have had your turn, sir; others are waiting to see him,” he maintained.
The man told me he went home despondent and full of regrets. Then he said: “But do you know what happened. In a matter of days, the problem was miraculously resolved.”