This is my 8th Sunday at home in over six decades, four of these due to COVID-19. A post just came in celebrating the success of Taiwan’s solo effort in the fight against the disease. Taiwan is very close to China geographically and in spite of the billions of people in China, the claim to Taiwan as part of China remains is that not greed?).
Taiwan did not lock down for one day; citizens use face mask; the country has lost only eight people and it now donates face masks to US whose leader withdrew his recognition of the small nation state as soon as he was elected in 2016. Taiwan has also shipped face masks to Italy and other countries all these without foreign assistance because many countries do not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. Let us therefore recognize the pidgin phrase “Small no be sick.” This should also remind us of the need to encourage micro and small enterprises, after all they form the bedrock of the economies of developed countries.
Talking about micro and small enterprises should remind us of a critical fact this Sunday: Jesus encouraged entrepreneurship. All Bible analysts appear to hold the opinion that the first miracle performed by Jesus was turning water to wine. I wholeheartedly disagree.
1st, this event is recorded in just one of the canonical gospels, the Book of John. Over centuries, Bible scholars have agreed that the Book of John is not in tune with the other three; Matthew, Mark, and Luke described as “synoptic gospels” excluding John which incidentally was the last of the four to be written.
Secondly, there is discrepancy in the history of the recruitment effort by Jesus. Only John says Peter was invited by his brother Andrew while Matthew’s gospel written by Matthew (although disputed), says Jesus recruited the two in person by the sea. Then the event in Cana followed.
Thirdly and very importantly, the wedding in Cana in Galilee had some disciples in attendance even in the John’s gospel. This implies that they had been recruited before the wedding.
My position therefore is that the act of Jesus in getting Peter and Andrew to harvest excess fish after an all-night zero catch llwas a miracle and this indeed was His first, more so He used free will rather than reacting to subtle coercion by His mother (mothers still do so today and who would not respond the way Jesus did? Whoever disobeys a good directive from mummy should be flocked. They deserve respect).
Back to entrepreneurship. If Jesus, based on above theory performed His first miracle in the business sector ( the second miracle at Cana was in the entertainment sector which is business), then all of us should encourage business development. Irrespective of religious affiliation, no one can deny that Christmas is the world’s biggest money spinner every year. In 2019, US sales topped $1 trillion! No person in the world is not touched directly or indirectly by Christmas buying and selling. Also, let us be reminded that the theology of Frenchman John Calvin brought about the birth of capitalism in the world. The Calvinist teachings of investments, profit making, frugal living, and reinvestment or ploughing back profit led to capitalism from the 16th century AD which even Communist China and all countries of whatever religious persuasion practice today. Capitalism is the basis of the stupendous economic growths around the world.
Therefore as we are locked down, let us engage the gear of our brains to think business. Pastor Taiwo Odukoya of The Fountain of Life Church is the one preacher who focuses on use of business principles even to run churches. He teaches his congregation to use best practices in business and to be business conscious. Other pastors are busy penalizing their members who don’t lock up their shops to be in church 7 days a week. Yet they ask for “fat offering” and tithe!(I think those Pastors lack self-confidence, are afraid of losing members, and should review their approach).
In conclusion, let’s not forget that when missionaries came, they had a Bible in one hand and a hoe in the other. This symbolized spirituality working hand in hand with commerce to bring about better worshippers. No hungry person absorbs a sermon except the person is fasting. And if the fasting is too long, one loses patience. Jesus did.
By the time the war against COVID-19 is over, all Nigerians should have at least a “Table Market” in front of their houses. Sell anything legal; don’t be a permanent buyer. No religious organization works without money. All church leaders need not be Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel with a networth of N54 billion. Just encourage the flock and the church will do well too, after all elders say when it is good for the stream, it is good for the estuary (though in Nigeria the stream is the Pastor while the estuary is the “body of church benchers” or ‘pewers.’