For one year in 1998, I lived as a member of the National Youth Service Corp, in Potiskum, Yobe state, where I read the Quran and befriended many almajirinci. One of the major culture shocks I experienced is the vast knowledge that these itinerant scholars had about the Quran, the hadiths of the prophet and Islamic jurisprudence.
Now, I am not talking about adults. I am talking of young children, some of them no older than 7. Believe it or not, many of the almajiri in Northern Nigeria can recite the Quran by heart.
The degree of commitment to their religion that I saw amongst the almajirinci in Potiskum, and earlier in Sokoto and Birnin Kebbi, where my family was based, is to a large extent missing in modern day Christianity in much of the world.
Let us take Nigeria for example. Southern Nigerians are very keen on education and we are some of the most educated people in the planet. Yet, though we may have read the complete works of Shakespeare, and the Principia, by Isaac Newton, very few of us have read Scripture from beginning to end.
A typical Southern Nigerian Christian is very well versed in current affairs, intellectually sound, and thinks he or she knows all that is to be known. But ask them about their religion, and the exactitude they display when it comes to matters of academics and current affairs, gives way to vague notions. In truth, many Christians have not read their holy books and know only bits and pieces. Sadly, these bits and pieces tend to be the parts about miracles and financial breakthroughs, and on fiery prayers against our enemies.
I recently taught on #RenosNuggets, the importance of honouring your parents over everybody but God. And it was like I had unleashed a floodgate. Many outraged Christians came on my timeline talking about the need to honour God by giving to their pastors and the church, And they cited all types of Scripture.
I have read Scripture from the beginning to the end in multiple translations. Moreover, I have read Scripture in the original languages. The foundation of both Judaism and Christianity is the 10 Commandments. Though there are in fact about 400 Mosaic laws, the 10 Commandments are like a cornerstone for the Jewish faith, of which Christ Followership (erroneously called Christianity, which is a name given by unknown persons to the followers of Christ-Acts 11:26), is an offshoot.
During the lifetime of Christ and the disciples, Christianity was not seen as a different religion. Rather, it was seen as the fulfilment of Judaism.
I have heard Christians say that Christ came to change the law. That is in fact false. Christ Himself actually came to fulfil the law. He said so in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Many Christians point to Christ’s teaching of ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ as a New Testament law. But Christ was actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18.
Too many Christians have been taken captives by their pastors because they do not read the word of God. They rather read the word of men.
Going back to my #RenosNuggets teaching, many Christians told me that they preferred to honour God with their first salary of the year by sowing it to church or pastor. They said that by virtue of Romans 11:16, that means their whole salary for the year will be blessed. I laughed!
First of all, Paul was not talking about money or material things in Romans 16:17. He was talking about people. Read the two verses before that verse and the two verses after. In the New Testament, Christ is seen as the First Fruit. Which is why 1 Corinthians 15:20 says:
“Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
Be that as it may, the First Fruits originated in the Torah and Talmud of the Old Testament, and are strictly AGRICULTURAL, as were tithes. First fruits and tithes were NEVER to be converted into money and presented at the Temple.
In fact, the only time tithes were allowed to be monetised, is where the tither lived too far away from the Temple, in which case, such a person was to sell their tithes, and personally consume the proceeds by using it to buy wine:
“if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.”-Deuteronomy 14:26.
The idea that the only way to honour God is by giving to your pastor or church is not scripturally sound. It has been propagated by many mercantile men of God, who are taking advantage of the mass hypnosis currently afflicting Christians, which prevents them from reading Scripture, preferring instead to read church doctrines.
The Fountain of Origin of our faith goes back to the Law of Moses, who in Deuteronomy 18:15, became the first person to give a specific prophecy about the Messiah. That is why during the transfiguration, Moses appeared to our Lord and Saviour.
Go back and study the Ten Commandments. Only God and parents are mentioned in the 10 Commandments. Pastors are not mentioned. Honour your father and your mother is the fifth commandment.
When you honour your parents, you are automatically honouring God. They go hand in hand. No prayer on Earth is as potent as the prayer of a parent for their child. It is the reason Esau was so pained by Jacob’s deception in stealing his father’s blessing.
To show you how important this is, consider that one of the last acts of Christ was fo honour His mother by ensuring that Yohanna (wrongly called John) looked after her.
We, Southern Nigerian Christians, as with many other bodies of Christians, are to a large extent more beholden to our pastors, than we are to our God. Because we do not read Scripture, we are easily tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. We are so highly educated that we can use logic to justify whatever our pastors teach us, whether or not it is backed by Scripture.
And we want to look down on the illiterate almajiri in Northern Nigeria, who are fully literate on what they consider the most important book on Earth (from their perspective).
If you take a look at the Islam that is being practiced in many parts of the world and compare it with the Islam that prophet Mohammed propagated in the Quran, very little has changed. How they eat, drink, dress, pray, marry, divorce, and even go to the toilet and bathroom, is governed by what the Quran says.
Sadly though, if you take a look at many of the practices of modern day Christians and you compare it with Scripture, you may be forgiven if you think that we have upgraded from what God told us to do in His word.
The most important book in the world, bar none, is the Scriptures. Christ said “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”. Let me paraphrase that and say ‘what shall it profit a Christian if he shall read all the books on Earth and not the Scripture?’
It is best to read academic books and acquire knowledge in combination to reading the Scriptures. However, if I had to choose one or the other, I would prefer to be a Christian almajiri and have knowledge of the whole word of God, than to know only Western education and a little Scripture.
I urge you, if you follow Christ, then find time to read Scripture. Be like the Berean believers of whom it was said:
“The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”-Acts 17:11.