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Growing up in a Christian home, mum would always take us to a nearby Pentecostal Church for Sunday services whenever we didn’t beat the time to meet up with the 6am Mattin Service at the Anglican Church we belonged to then which was very far from our home. I grew up seeing the difference between the Pentecostal Church and the Anglican Church as just brand name and I also assumed the only difference between us and the Roman Catholic Church was the veneration of relics and all those stuffs.
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Growing up in a home where we had a wider acceptance of various denominations while showing our commitment to the Anglican Communion, I wouldn’t really say for sure I was holistic with professing Anglicanism; I was rather identifying myself as a Christian. As long as folks believed in Jesus as the Lord and Saviour, I had nothing to object.
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The difference came when we attended the Pentecostal Church again after a very long time of meeting up with the schedules of the Anglican Church we belonged to. One of our teachers in the Children Church had asked us why we had been missing services and we explained but she came to the congregation and announced “let’s welcome back the lost sheep.” I was enraged, like seriously? Lost sheep? Even at my little age then I knew I wasn’t a lost sheep. She had called us lost sheep because we were attending services elsewhere. I knew I belonged to the flock of Christ and it was an insult to my salvation to regard me and my siblings as lost sheep. We revolted, left the congregation and they never saw us again.
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Back in the school, I started emphasizing on how Anglican I was, I started being conscious of denominational divide and in fact I started noticing how the Pentecostal folks regard us as dead Church. I became more of a denominational advocate than I was a Christian. Talk against the Anglican Communion, if I could beat you, I will beat you! I was zealously trying to protect the “real Church”.
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As I continued to grow both in stature and in faith, I started understanding certain things, the scriptures were clearer to me and I began to retrace my steps. I didn’t have to read Paul alone, I also had to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James and the rest! While they were different authors, they all wrote about same God, opening up realities in progressive truth! At some points Barnabas and Paul had disagreements, they went their separate ways but they were united in purpose.
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As long as we are humans, there will always be flaws but we shouldn’t let those flaws separate us or come in the way of the real thing God wants from us. In Christianity, we are one, united in Christ and there is neither Anglican nor Pentecostal. In Christ, it doesn’t matter who your Pastor is or who you submit to, we ultimately submit to Christ. When someone you follow isn’t pointing you to Christ but to himself you have to look well because you are headed to disaster! Every man of God is a “man” before he is “of God” and we must always understand this and never allow ourselves to be deceived by their human flaws! If you think men of God don’t make mistakes, ask Apostle Peter why he was living in hypocrisy towards the Gentiles! A man of God operating in the apostolic office in the first class, one of the pillars of the Christian doctrine but not without human flaws! Would we now say that since it was Peter, it is a “holy hypocrisy?”
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Yet we see something very significant! While Paul rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy at Antioch (Galatians 2:11), Peter exalted Paul’s teachings in his writing (2 Peter 3:15) and called him “beloved brother”. Today, we always see a different case! I don’t understand why certain folks would see the rest of Christians who isn’t led by their Pastor as “second class believers,” maybe the problem lies on the weakness and immaturity of their Pastor who isn’t teaching them well. Many times it is insecurity that breeds a lot of this mess! While many were saying they were loyal to Paul and others said they were loyal to Apollos causing dissension among themselves in the same of allegiance to one Pastor or another, Paul rebuked them and said they were just being worldly! (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Certain leaders today would delight at such stupid loyalty, they would feel proud that they had been able to win the heart of men to themselves but that isn’t what Jesus has called us to do! Paul wrote in verse 5 saying “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, as the Lord has assigned to each his role. I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (BSB)
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I have seen Pastors who instruct their followers never to listen to any other preacher or teacher, never to attend any other service that isn’t in their denomination, never to use any other ministry material that isn’t from their own ministry and I wonder how we ever got here! Their reasons may be partially valid but they aren’t valid enough. You may not be able to plant seeds and water them at the same time, Paul planted, Apollos watered but God was in charge of its growth! Every minister of the gospel has been called for the planting and watering of seeds, none has been called for the growth of that seed! No one is responsible for the growth except God! In the Acts of Apostles, the bible says they walked in one accord but the bible made a wonderful remark about God adding to their numbers (Acts 2:47).
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Our little issues as denominations become very obvious because there is hatred everywhere! As the bible says in Proverbs 10:12 “hatred stirs up strife.” Every minister wants to pull the other to the ground so that only he would appear credible! Throughout the Bible, love has always been presented as something that covers multitude of sins! In Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 17:9, 1 Corinthians 13:4, James 5:20, 1 Peter 4:8 all presented love in this manner saying one thing about love covering multitude of sins. While our diverse congregations may have one disagreement or another, we cannot be exclusive to ourselves alone, we may feel we are achieving success that way but we would do just much more when we let love reign.
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This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful of false teachers and we shouldn’t expose them. The Bible says we should test every Spirit but who is responsible for testing every spirit? It is not the Pastor who actually test the spirit for his members, every believer should be able to test every Spirit as long as they are being fed with the truth of God’s word (1 John 4:1-3).
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We must learn to appreciate each and everyone’s gifting! There are men God has called as Pastors and another as Evangelists, another as Prophets and so on but most times we don’t allow people function in their offices around us because we feel insecure! Why should a pastor feel insecure? Is he feeling insecure over his people or God’s people? Isn’t it God who builds His church? Isn’t He the one who promised that the gates of hell will not stand against the Church? People are hungry and you alone cannot be enough for them! I say this authoritatively because one man has never been enough for you unless you aren’t passionate about growing. In my library I have several materials from several men of God; I don’t depend on just the writings of one man because I believe God waters me through them all! While Paul was planting, Apollos was watering… You see that?
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This is what we do when we preach and teach the word beyond our local assembly! When we write on our blogs, we are watering our readers. When we organise home bible studies for believers who belong to a local church, we aren’t stealing members, we are watering them! There were obviously people Paul watered whom he wouldn’t say he is responsible for their planting! What we do in ministry is to complement one another. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:11-12 “And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.”
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You see that? God has made every minister and has gifted them with necessary offices for the equipping of the Saints and to build up the body of Christ. We may not all have reach the unity in faith and in knowledge but that is what we are building towards! The more we mature, the more we reach this unity. No man builds a house alone, even when God wanted to make man who would be His temple, He said “let us make man” which means no building can be successfully built single handedly. When you understand this, you wouldn’t hinder your members and yourself from being watered! Any man who wants your perpetual submission to himself alone isn’t helping you; we are only pointers to Christ! We are of Christ, not of men. Our allegiance is to Christ, not to men. So we can support ministries that are watering us too, we can be partners with ministries that aren’t necessarily the local assembly we attend every week and we can be united for effectiveness. When we work in one accord, we give God the room to increase us. Church increase isn’t about the increase in your local assembly but increase in the body of Christ. If you are only concerned about increase in your local assembly and not increase in the body of Christ, you are just building a brand; you aren’t raising the banner of Christ. We must decrease that He might increase.
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God bless you
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#GracefulGeorge

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