Someone once told me of the hinderance her family is having with relation to having a “man of God” come to their family house at their village for a family prayer of liberation. According to her, putting together the money to be given to the “man of God” for the items that would be used for the prayer and for transporting the “man of God and his “team of prayer warriors” has not been easy.

As a minister of the gospel, I was worried by the recounted expérience of the lady and her family narrated succintly above. Is the gospel now for sale? Is the gospel now trade by barter? Is the gospel now food, drink and cloth? Is the gospel now vehicle or bank account? What is the gospel?

The gospel simply put is the “goodnews.” The goodnews of Jesus Christ which is salvation oriented not money, power or fame oriented. A true prophet of God, a true disciple of Christ called into the ministry of pastoring, will give freely always because he has recieved freely from Christ. On the contrary, a false prophet or disciple will demand pay in order to serve because he has not recieved freely.

Is it a crime to benefit from the gospel? Not at all if it is a benefit that God gives through the generousity of the people unto whom the pastor ministers. Never must the people be forced to give the pastor, never must the people be tricked and exploited to giving. Giving should be made to be a matter of faith and it should be cheerfully done.

What about the sales of religious articles? The intension of the minister with regards the sales of religious articles if necessary, must not be aimed at making money for himself at the expense of the people. The sale of such articles should commensurate with the common prize rate within the locality and the salvation of the people who use the religious articles should always be upmost in the minister’s mind not the proceeds from the sale.

Lay faithful who voluntarily work for God in churches using their God giving talents, should preoccupy with doing God’s work basically and not working for recognition or to making a living. How much did we pay to purchase the blood of the Lamb of God that was shed for us? We are called to preach the gospel not to trade the gospel.

Fr Augustine Abiagom, cm.