There is elegance in simple but complex sentences. Take one: God works with us, not for us (Anon.). Many people fail in ventures including entire life’s journey when they fail to appreciate above simple statement. “If it is God’s wish,” “Let thy will be done o Lord,” “If it is the will of Allah,” and “If it pleases God” are some of the several phrases which imply resignation to fate rather than affirmation of God’s ability to determine outcomes. Several people belief it is God’s business as an omnipotent Father to provide all needs or make the impossible to be possible without effort beyond belief and the difficult concept of faith. Several people belief God can do everything more so the scripture posts several affirmations which wrongly interpreted may mean those who believe in God should do no work. (See for instance Philippians 4 verse 19 which says the Lord will provide all your needs …, Matthew 6 verse 25 which says don’t worry about food and drinks and clothes for the heavenly Father will provide, and Matthew 6 verse 34 with an emphatic, “Do not worry about tomorrow”).
But things don’t work that way especially in the context of “he that does not work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3 verse 10). This statement credited to Paul the Apostle must have inspired Vladimir Lenin of Russia who in 1917 used it almost verbatim as a central article in the communist manual of procedure.
Permit me to cite a live case in my high school days at Lutheran High School, Obot Idim Ibesikpo in Akwa Ibom State. The Civil War had just left the then South-eastern State of Nigeria. Schools reopened. In my school a young woman was notorious for partying, by then known as ball room dancing. Disco came later. She hardly attended classes or completed assignments and of course had no time to read. Just before WAEC commenced, she bought a biro pen and a pencil, took them to a prayer house and had them placed on the alter for prayers. I guess money changed hands too. The result should be guessed by anyone who knows the way God works.
Now let us get to two exciting cases in the Scripture. Peter and his team of fishermen had toiled all night but caught not a single fish. The authors of the Gospels leave readers to wonder whether the disappearance of the fishes all day was by divine command. However, at the appearance of Jesus and in line with His directive, Peter and co caught more fish than their net could manage (See Luke 5 verses 1-11). Same event, known as “Miracle of 153 fishes “, took place after the Resurrection in John 25 verse 11.
The principal issue is that the large haul of fishes became possible because a boat and a net were available on the two occasions along with people who had worked hard all night despite a seeming impossible situation.
The encounter of Jesus with men who turned out to be His first set of disciples about marked the beginning of His ministry with the use of signs and wonders applied till today. However, the issue in our context lies in the availability of resources which Jesus enriched. If Peter & co had lazed at the beach with palm wine (if it existed then) laced with bitter kola, Jesus would have had nothing to use to generate His first recorded miracle (turning water to wine was a pre-ministry activity which Jesus in fact complained about because the commencement date of His ministry had not reached).
May be ministers can see another perspective in this: what is the justification for keeping adults in the church on a workday for fasting and prayers when they should be working with their resources to generate income? I feel baffled each time I pass by a church during work/business hours and espy dozens of people singing and praying while their shops are closed or left to careless/thieving assistants or farms are filled with weeds. Imagine this: workers in public and private sectors abandon their offices and schedules to spend time in church premises all day. Bishop Kuka once lamented that when countries gain independence they resort to development of their farms and factories while after independence in Nigeria we resorted to fasting and prayer. The Christian Council of Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs appear to be silent about the quantum of time and other resources the average Nigerian puts into religious activities and observances (which do not actually amount to piety).
Those who do not work should not eat for they do not generate resources for Jesus to multiply. How they raise money for tithe and offering should be food for thought. To use little money generated to meet those expectations means poor growth. There is time for everything, says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1). And I guess the adage handed down by Greek philosophers applies here, to wit: “Ex nihilo nihil fit,” (nothing comes out of nothing).
The same resource enrichment process took place when the Ministry of Jesus had gathered steam. From miracles to attract audiences He settled into His real ministry – converting souls via evangelism. On one occasion the folks stayed beyond the time they should have departed to enable them buy food. Jesus in His usual compassionate approach had to act. In Luke 9 verse 16 Jesus enquired from His disciples what food (resource) was available. Five loaves of bread and two fishes, courtesy of the lunch pack of a child who had forward-looking and caring parents. Imagine a meal for just one selfless boy multiplied to feed five thousand men plus leftovers. It is necessary to speculate that given the way women were regarded then, the number of 5,000 did not include them along with children. And if we guess that as in Nigeria where women outnumber men three or more to one at religious and other public functions, the lunch basket must have fed between 15,000 to 20,000 people. What a level of resource enrichment!
The essence of above review is that it is futile if not stupid to fold one’s arms and wait for manna to drop from heaven. God uses existing resources to manifest His power and majesty.
So go ye therefore from this day, to prepare grounds for resource enrichment or multiplication by the Almighty Father.
I rest my case.